Why is knowing when a ball is at the “disposal” of a player important to understand?
There are two major reasons. Times out and types of fouls.
Here is where disposal and times out come into play. Once the ball is at the disposal of a player only that player’s team may call time out. This rule applies to both free throws and to throw-ins.
Here is an example. The official has bounced the ball to a free thrower for the first free throw of two awarded to her. After the ball has bounced on the floor but before the shooter has it in her hands either team may call time out. However, once the shooter has the ball in her hands, only she or her team may call time out. The opponents are out of luck, time out wise, that is. The same kind of example could be applied to a throw-in as well.
Once the ball is at the disposal of the free thrower or the player making the throw-in the ball becomes “live.” Not alive, but “live.” All contact fouls during a live ball are “personal fouls.” They may be intentional or flagrant even, but they are “personal” just the same.
Contact fouls that occur during dead ball period, which are ruled a foul are “technical fouls.” By rule all dead ball contact is ignored unless it is deemed intentional or technical. See 4-19-1 Note
Take this example. As the official is bouncing the ball to thrower A1 during a throw-in administration, B1 shoves A3. The official rules B1’s shove intentional and charges B1 with a technical foul because thrower A1 did not yet have the ball at her disposal.
The important difference in the two classifications of fouls discussed above is how play will be resumed.
4-47 details the four ways the ball becomes “at the disposal” of a player.
• Handed to a thrower or free thrower
• Caught by a player after it is bounced to her/him
• Placed on the floor at the spot
• Available to a player after a goal and the official has begun the throw-in count
Now you have all this information at your disposal.