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Verticality Rule 4-45

Fans love to yell this phrase – they have no clue as to what it defines.  We as officials though do.  No where in the rule book will you find anything that talks about "over the back."  But you will find rules covering both legal and illegal guarding position, verticality, and illegal contact.


From a previous veteran tip on Legal Guarding Position, verticality takes this one step farther:

  • Legal guarding is required initially – from this position, the defender can rise or jump vertically and own the space from ground to ceiling in their vertical plane.

  • The defender can raise their hands within their vertical space


We hear “Over the Back” during rebound situations – remember:

  • A defender can jump vertically:

    • without displacing or pushing an opponent

    • while not extending knees, elbows, hips, shoulders or arms into an opponent to gain a position

    • while not holding an opponent

    • without violating any other player right to verticality from floor to ceiling



  • If an offensive or defensive player pushes in under an opponent before he/she jumps for a rebound – blocking foul

  • If  an offensive or defensive player pushes an opponent as they reach up for a rebound - pushing foul

  • If an offensive or defensive player makes contact through the vertical plane of their opponent and displaces or pushes them as they reach for a rebound - pushing foul

  • If a defender has established legal guarding and jumps within their plane and an offensive player creates contact with the defender – player control foul.

  • If a defender establishes their legal guarding position, but as a ball handler approaches them the defender jumps toward them and creates contact – defensive blocking foul

  • If a defender established legal guarding position on a ball handler who is driving to the hoop, and the defender gives ground by moving laterally and obliquely to defend the ball handler, but at the last minute moves forward with their feet, even if their hands are above their head, and contacts the ball handler with their hips as the defender is moving forward – blocking foul on defender.  The only thing in this instance that the defender cannot do is move forward toward the ball handler.  They can maintain legal guarding outlined here and in the Week 1 message, they can jump straight up in their vertical plane – but they cannot move forward.

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