College Basketball: Over And Back

Simply stated, “Ball And Body” must be completely over the mid-court line before an Over And Back violation can occur.  A player must have both feet and the entire ball completely across the mid-court line before this violation is even possible.



NCAA Men’s Basketball 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 Rule 9, Section 13 discusses the Over and Back (“OAB”) violation at Pages 86-87/140.



Rule 9, Section 13, Article 4 states that an OAB violation occurs when a player–whose team has established ball control in the front court–touches the ball in the back court with any part of his or her body (voluntarily or involuntarily) and that player’s team was the last to touch the ball before it went into the back court.



First, let us define the terms “front court” and “back court”.

Rule 9, Section 13, Articles 1 and 2 states:

A team’s front court shall consist of that part of the playing court between its end line and the nearer edge of the division line, including its basket and the inbounds part of its backboard.

A team’s back court consists of the rest of the playing court, including its opponent’s basket and inbounds part of the backboard and the division line, excluding the mathematical edge nearest the team’s basket.

Next, consider how a team establishes itself in the front court or the back court.

Rule 9, Section 13, Article 3 states:

A live ball is in the front court or back court of the team in control as follows:
a. A ball that is in contact with a player or with the playing court shall be in the back court when either the ball or the player (either player when the ball is touching more than one) is touching the back court. It shall be in the front court when neither the ball nor the player is touching the back court.
b. A ball that is not in contact with a player or the playing court retains the same status as when it was last in contact with a player or the playing court.
c. During a dribble from back court to front court, the ball shall be in the front court when both feet of the dribbler and the ball touch the playing court entirely in the front court.

Note well that Article 3(a) defines being in the front court as neither the ball nor the player touching the back court.  Article 3(c) reiterates this point.

The remainder of Rule 9, Section 13 clarifies various issues:

Article 5 states that either team may recover a ball in the back court if the defensive team deflects the ball from the front court into the back court.

Article 6 states that an out-of-bounds throw-in from any point on the court may go into the back court without a violation.

Article 7 appears to apply to a throw-in situation where an inbounds player in the front court tips the ball into the back without ever controlling the ball.  No OAB violation occurs.

Articles 8, 9, and 10 separate good officials from great ones, because these arcane rules come into play relatively rarely.  But when they do, an entire game can turn on the decision.  Read them if you wish.


So how does this apply strategically?

Here is one way:  A defensive team may use this rule to its advantage to–in a sense–double the number of defenders it has in one area of the court.

Suppose an offensive player dribbles across the mid-court line near the sideline when suddenly two defenders “trap” him against the sideline and mid-court line (which the offensive player cannot cross back over without an OAB violation occurring).  Now the defensive team has, in a sense, four defenders–two players, one sideline, and one mid-court line.  Watch for this tactic.

If you observe the game carefully, you will see an OAB call occasionally–and often at an important time of the game–when the defensive team applies this strategy.

Or when a player simply forgets where he is on the court.


2 Comments on “College Basketball: Over And Back”

  1. Very informative article! I think “over and back” rule is the most misunderstood rule in basketball game. I don’t think it should be misunderstood as a rule is a rule and this rule implies violation of basketball floor.

    • The DA Blog says:

      Thanks. I agree that over and back is misunderstood. It also can be very difficult for game officials to see and, as noted, often occurs at critical times during a game. Officiating is a tricky and relatively thankless job.

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