What is Basketball Reach in Foul?

Sometimes, basketball rules can be drastically confusing, especially if you’re a newcomer in the sport. Because the game is driven so quickly that one can hardly understand its foul rules separately.

It is sometimes an amusing moment when we enjoy our favorite player’s performances on the court, and he is suddenly called for a foul. We look to the referee with wonder about how and when the player has committed the foul.

Anyhow, a reach-in is one of the fouls in basketball, which could be a bit confusing for some spectators. Because many people get muddled with the name ‘reach-in.’ Yet, this rule is sometimes legal, sometimes not. So, what exactly is a reach-in foul, and how it occurs on the court.

I have covered all questions regarding reach-in foul to eliminate your misunderstanding.

Reach-In Foul

A reach-in is a term used by the basketball leagues and teams to define the defensive player trying to reach in and snatch or push the ball from the ball-handler.

While struggling for this attempt, the defender makes contact with the offender either with his arms or blocks his way to reach the basket. In this situation, a foul would occur, and the player would be called for a reach-in foul.

Examples of Reach-In Foul

One most famous example of a reach-in foul is when a point guard player is on the top of the three-point line and waits for the offensive player to move and make an offense.

Then the ball handler protects the ball and understands that the point guard won’t move for a few seconds, but he would make his move to steal the ball from the offender.

Hence, when he moves to steal the ball from the ball-handler and protects it from him, he is called for the reach-in foul.

A further example of the reach-in foul is when the ball-handler dribbles the ball on the court, and the player intersects the defensive player while dribbling the ball from his right hand to left one.

However, in this circumstance, the defender expects the crossover and tries to snatch the ball. Right at this moment, he would be called for a reach-in foul.

Besides, when the ball-handler is in a triple-threat position and is seeing to make his next move. The defensive player, at this point, may try to poke the ball from the hands of the player, and the referee would point him out for the reach-in foul.

Reach-in Foul Contact

Most people get confused with this rule because of its name. Thus reach-in doesn’t mean to reach into or through the player’s body.

However, this foul occurs when the defensive player hits the offensive player or the ball handler. In simple terms, it happens when even a slight contact happens between two opposing players.

I can tell you an example of this situation when a player is holding a ball at a three-point position. Just before he starts dribbling the ball, the defensive player attempts to steal or poke the ball, and his hands make contact with the ballhandler’s arms; he would be a call for a reach-in foul.

But it does not mean that the defender cannot put his hand on the opposing player; instead, he can use his forearm to get in a stance while in the post and can swipe as well.

Penalties for Reach-in Foul

If a legal contact happens with the offender’s hand, the offensive player would be called for the reach-in foul, which would be considered a personal foul.

However, if an illegal contact occurred by the defender’s hands, the offensive team would be called for a team foul. On the other hand, if the foul occurs against the offender or a solo team member of each team called for a personal foul, no team foul would be called.

Once the reach-in foul is called, the offended team is generally provided the ball-out-of-bound. Yet, it depends upon the situation; it is also possible that the team would be awarded three free-throws. 

Reach-in Foul in NBA Rulebook

In the NBA rulebook, an illegal contact is defined in rule 12B as a personal foul. Point A of this rule defines that pushing, preventing, charging in, or holding the opposite player’s improvement by extending the arm, hand, knee, or leg or bending the body into an abnormal posture is not legal.

Besides, the defender who is defending the ball-handler is not permissible to make contact with him. Moreover, touching the opponent with hands, forearms, or any body part is not legal. 

Then, point B of the same rule states some exceptions to point A. For instance, unintentional contact with the opponent does not count as a reach-in foul unless it affects the player’s execution.

Further, in point C, it is also described that if the player’s movement against the opposing player makes illegal contact with the opponent, he would be charged to make a personal foul.

Eventually, point E of the same rule states that if an offender touches his hands while possessing the ball, it would be legal. And this is the situation when most of the reach-in fouls occurred.

At last, in the comments of this rule, it is mentioned that the hand is considered as a part of the ball when it contacts the ball. However, contact with that part of the hand is measured as legal.


People typically get confused with this foul because they think that the foul is all about actually reaching into the opponent’s way, but it is not! Even a slight touch in an illegal manner to steal the ball is considered the reach-in foul.

I hope your confusion has been cleared. Now you would not miss any moment when the player makes illegal contact with another player, and he would be called for a reach-in foul.