I saw it again tonight. A player was called for double dribble when by rule I don’t think he should have been.

The key point to understand about the dribble rule is when a dribble begins. Rule 4-15 states that a player must have control of the ball to begin a dribble. A player is in control when he or she is holding the ball.

Here is what I saw this evening. A1 launches a three-point shot that is errant. Several players go airborne in an attempt to gain control of the carom. A3 is not able to catch the ball but is able to tap the ball towards the deep corner. A3 hustles to the corner and gains control of the ball and then begins a dribble. The covering official sounds his whistle and ruled a double dribble.

In effect, the official was ruling that when A3 tapped the ball toward the corner during the rebound skirmish he was beginning a dribble, then ended the dribble when he ran to the corner and grabbed the ball. So, when A3 started what he thought was his dribble the official ruled that he was starting a second dribble and ruled accordingly.

The kicker to me in this situation is that A3 tapped the ball during the rebound activity. He didn’t catch it and throw it toward the corner. He was not in control when he tapped the ball, so he didn’t by rule start a dribble.
Below are other situations that I thought were incorrectly called a double dribble violation.

A1 throws the ball toward A2. The throw is high and outside. A2 jumps and is able to touch the ball but not catch it and it rolls toward the sideline. A2 runs after the ball, catches it and begins a dribble. Again, the covering official rules a double dribble.

Here is a situation that a long time official and a good friend argued with me about. A1 throw the ball to A2. A2 catches the ball and holds it. Subsequently, A2 fumbles the ball moves to recover it and a few seconds later begins a dribble. The official ruled a double dribble. Remember, fumble, dribble, and a  fumble is legal.

Here is another that I saw the first night of the season. A1 is throwing a pass towards A2 when B1 deflects the pass. B1 then hustles and retrieves the ball. B1 then begins a dribble and the official rules a double dribble has been committed. Wrong!

A1 is dribbling up the court when B1 comes from behind and bats the ball away from A1. B1 scurries quickly retrieves the ball and then begins a dribble. And once again the official rules double dribble.

Review the comment from the Case Book that speaks to these situations. It is pretty clear.

It is not possible for a player to travel during a dribble. A player is not dribbling while slapping the ball during a jump when a pass rebounds from his/her hand when he/she fumbles, or when he/she bats a rebound or pass away from other players who are attempting to get it. The player is not in control under these conditions. It is a dribble when a player stands still and bounces the ball. It is not a dribble when a player stands still and holds the ball and touches it to the floor once or more than once.

In the first video clip below a player in white bats a long rebound, then immediately retrieves the ball and begins a dribble. This is a tough play because it happens so quickly.

The second clip is an equally difficult play because the player fumbles the ball twice before starting a dribble.

A good rule of thumb may be that if a player thinks that he/she has not yet dribbled, then let the play continue.

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