I'm 6"4' 250 lbs and while that's certainly not "big/tall" for NBA, I'm usually the tallest/heaviest (or at the very least, amongst one of the) when playing with people in my community.

Oftentimes, I find myself playing the post position (5/center) and I'm boxing out on defense, making room for another teammate to go to the basket without the opposing center playing being in the way, or a potential bucket myself.

More often than not, the opposing team becomes frustrated with the way I box out and eventually tells me that "arms are not allowed when boxing out" and "I can only my back/butt/shoulders" to box out. Personally, I am not sure if I am indeed committing a foul - or if the opposing team is trying to put a handicap on me. For context, I get this when playing pickup games at the community park or with coworkers.

The way I box out is:

  • If I'm in front of my opponent (i.e I am between the opponent and the basket), I use my butt/back to constantly push back (sometimes with a decent amount of force) and use one arm in one of the following positions a.) slightly bent or extended but below 90 degrees (player 02 in red's left arm to the blue player to his left).
  • If I'm behind my opponent (i.e opponent is between me and basket), I usually place one knee between the opponent leg and using my arm like so. (For this one, I'm not placing force on my elbow - more so on my arm itself)

If this is indeed illegal in basketball, I would happily only use my butt/back/chest to box out but the reason I suspect opponent often times say this is because either a.) Perhaps street-ball has different rules than NBA/high-school basketball? (I used this boxout method in high-school games on the school team and no one said anything about it) or b.) I'm usually able to box out really effectively due to my height, weight, and arm-technique and the opposing team could get frustrated with this.

Now, I'm guessing arms extending out 90 degrees, wrapping them around the opponent obviously is a foul - so my question is just how much arm can one use when boxing out? Is it a gray area where it's up to interpretation (hopefully, it's not this), or is there a clear line (e.g arms extending around the player are illegal but rest are okay, etc.) to define this?

(The reason why I'm curious as to exactly what is a foul and what isn't - is because I'm wondering if I am allowed to do "more" (utilize different ways of boxing out) than I currently am.)

  • Uh oh - another basketball question not in the rulebook. Get ready for a bunch of annotated answers that don't answer the question but have lots of documentation.., I can give you an answer that is backed up by 20+ years of college basketball refereeing but it will just get downvoted for lack of votes. What a site this is! – Coach-D Jan 15 at 6:16

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