Charles in Charge: Over and Back

Posted by Charles in Charles in Charge, Hoops |

In this week’s installment of ‘Charles in Charge’, we discuss the rules concerning over-and-back violations. As everyone knows, the basic rule involved is that once the offense has established possession of the basketball in the front court, they cannot let the ball regain back court status and then be the first ones to touch the ball. If a defender knocks the ball loose and it goes into the back court, any player on the offense is allowed to get the ball with no violation being called. However if the ballhandler loses a dribble, or throws a bad pass, or for whatever other reason causes the ball to go into the back court, no player on the offense may touch the ball until after a defender contacts the ball, doing otherwise results in a violation.

In the case where the player in control of the ball starts in the back court, the ball has back court status until both of the ballhandler’s feet and the ball itself are in the front court. If the ballhandler is dribbling near the division line and has at least one foot in the back court, he/she can dribble the ball on either side of the division line and allow the other foot to freely step in either the front or back court all he/she wants. However once both feet and the ball are in the front court, the ball has front court status and the over and back rule applies.

Things get more interesting on plays where the ball is in-bounded. The first rule to consider in these cases is that when the ball is in the hands of the in-bounder, it does not have either front or back court status. Thus no matter where the in-bounder is standing, the ball may be legally thrown in bounds to a defender standing in the back court. Now lets consider some more complex in-bounding scenarios.

Scenario 1: Player A1 is set to in-bound the ball. He throws it to player A2 who is standing in the front court but who then jumps, catches the in-bound pass while he is still in the air and then lands in the back court. This seems like an easy call, there is no violation since the ball was never in the front court, right? As Lee Corso would say “Not so fast my friend!” The rules of basketball state that a player who is in the air, maintains the same status relative to the court as they had when their feet last touched the ground. In this case that means that player A2 had front court status until his feet touched in the back court. Thus when A2 caught the ball in the air, he was still considered to be in the front court. Ok, that still does not seem to really complicate things, the ball was caught in the “front” court and then taken into the back court, over and back violation, case close. But Lee Corso makes another appearance here with one of the less commonly known rules in basketball. There is an exception to the over and back rule that allows the first player to touch the ball during an in-bound play to jump from the front court, catch the ball in the air, and land in the back court. Essentially this exception was written solely for the purpose of this scenario and our play is legal.

Wow, that was a long explanation for a simple little scenario. I actually thought that the previous scenario was more widely known but discussing it with some friends this week I realized that was not the case. But that is okay as that is the point of this series of articles, to discuss unknown rules.

This now brings us to the scenario that I proposed at the end of last week’s column, which Eric, one of our friends from The Buckeye Battle Cry, made the correct call on. Here is the scenario again to refresh your memory: Team A is in-bounding the ball in the front court with player A1 standing out-of-bounds with the ball. Player A1 passes the ball to A2 who jumps from the front court, catches the ball, and before returning to the floor, passes the ball to A3 who is standing in the back court. Is this a violation?

Based on scenario 1, the easy answer would seem to be that this play is legal for the same reason the previous play was legal. However that is not the case, the exception to the front court status rule only applied to the first player to touch the ball on the in-bound play. Thus when player A2 caught the ball while in the air, and then passed it to A3 while still in the air, the ball gained and kept it’s front court status. Thus when player A3, who was in the back court, caught the ball, he committed an over and back violation.

We close this week’s column with a trivia question that will tie this week’s topic in with next week’s.  Player A1 is dribbling in the front court.  He loses control of the dribble and the ball bounces over the division line where it hits an official standing in the back court.  The ball does not touch the floor in the back court but instead rebounds off of the official back into the front court where it hits the floor and then is picked up by player A2.  What is the proper call in this scenario?  Post your answers in the comments section and let’s see how many people get the call correct.


Written by: Charles Kuehn | full bio

Charles is the Endowed Professor of Women's Basketball Coverage and general Buckeye blogger who tries to avoid the roving bands of Wolverines while living in Michigan.


2 Responses to “Charles in Charge: Over and Back”

  1. 1 Kevin Patana

    A ball touching a player or official is the same as a ball touching the floor at that location, since Team A caused the ball to be brought into the backcourt, Team A cannot be the first to obtain team control. This would be a backcourt violation

  2. 2 Tbrayman

    If player A1 takes the ball out of bounds in the front court, say under their basketball and passes to the ball to player on his team A2. A2 touches the ball in the front court but does not establish control of the ball and the ball travels into the back court. Player A2 is the first person to touch the ball in the back court and gains possession of the ball in the back court. Is this a back court violation?

    It would seem to me that this is not an over and back violation since Team A never gained possession of the ball in front court and since possession is not established on the out of bounds play even though team A touched the ball in the front court prior to gaining possession in the back court.

    I’ve seen this called as an violation in High School basketball several times this year.

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