When I play basketball and post up against a particular opponent he always reaches around from behind me, under my arms and begins to curve around my torso with both arms in an attempt to swap away the ball when it's passed to me. Like a hug that is 80% completed with arms/hands pointed out straight. Aside from feeling very odd I've always wondered if it's legal.

When I am posting up - can an opponent almost completely wrap me up in the way described away in an effort to swat the ball away when it's passed to me?

If it is allowed:

  • How much contact can he make with my arms when the ball is passed to me and i'm trying to catch it?
  • Can I turn to the side and extend my arm with a 90% turn at the elbow (so my forearm is holding him back) in an effort to get some space from him?

1 Answer 1


The defensive player is committing a foul in the situation described. I am drawing here from the NBA rules, but high school and NCAA are essentially the same.

Section I—Types

A player shall not hold, push, charge into, impede the progress of an opponent by extending a hand, arm, leg or knee or by bending the body into a position that is not normal. Contact that results in the re-routing of an opponent is a foul which must be called immediately. Contact initiated by the defensive player guarding a player with the ball is not legal. This contact includes, but is not limited to, forearm, hands, or body check.

EXCEPTIONS: A defender may apply contact with a forearm to an offensive player with the ball who has his back to the basket below the free throw line extended outside the Lower Defensive Box. A defender may apply contact with a forearm and/or one hand with a bent elbow to an offensive player in a post-up position with the ball in the Lower Defensive Box. Incidental contact with the hand against an offensive player shall be ignored if it does not affect the player’s speed, quickness, balance and/or rhythm.

By this description, hugging is certainly a position which is not normal. This is confirmed by the listed exceptions; i.e. those times when a defender's arm is allowed to make contact with an offensive player. "Hugging" is not listed as an exception. The rule clearly establishes the offensive player's freedom of movement as defining the foul. "Hugging" or "enveloping" is, therefore, clearly a foul.


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