HANDCHECKING

John Basorist
NCAA Division One Official in Michigan

Hand checking is defined as illegal contact by a defensive player, which impedes the forward and/or lateral movement of the offensive player. Hand checking should be dealt with early in the game, with particular attention being paid during perimeter play and drives to the basket. Hand checking is NOT allowed on the ball handler. Referees have the misconception that "I'll call it if it impedes the ball handler". That is not the direction referees are being encouraged to follow. ONE warning is given to the player, and if there is another infraction, then the foul should be called. The following are hand checking guidelines for all referees:
 
It is a foul If;

Incidental contact with the hand(s) that does not impede the progress of an opponent is NOT illegal. The defensive player's action of feeling for a screen that may be set to the side or to the rear is NOT illegal.

If an offensive player slaps at the defensive player's hand or arm, which is on his person, this should be an indicator to the referee that such contact is impedinghis progress. Preventative refereeing can avoid fouls on both defensive and offensive players.

A stern vocal warning to defensive players early in the game will allow players to adjust to the desired level and type of contact allowed. This warning CANNOT continue throughout the entire game. Co-officials should be made aware that the warning has been given so that two or three separate warnings are avoided.

ALL PLAYERS WILL DO WHAT REFEREES ALLOW THEM TO DO. STOP THE HANDCHECKING EARLY BY CALLING THE FOUL AND YOUR PROBLEMS WILL BE MINIMAL AS THE GAME ADJUSTS AND PROGRESSES.

Warn the players ONCE and then call the foul! This also applies to illegal arm bars placed outside of a defensive player's cylinder. An arm bar may be used when defending in post play but it is NOT allowed when FACE to FACE with an opponent or a guard is defending the ball handler.