Bad throw-in

Parents commonly see a bad-looking throw-in and wonder why refs don’t call it. Some kids’ throws just sputter. Other kids twist at the last minute. Can’t the refs see?

A throw-in requires: Coming from both hands behind and over the head, with the player facing field with both feet on ground. If the requirements are met, the throw-in is legal.

A throw-in is supposed to be a quick and fairly non-advantageous way of restarting the game after the ball went out. The requirements prevent (most) throwers from very long throws, or very precise throws to a teammate.

Commonly a kid makes a throw-in that looks bad. The ball flops onto the field. Or the player sees an open player and twists at the last second. But the law doesn’t require that throw-ins look great; a bad-looking throw-in can still be legal.

What does make a bad throw-in? Common problems include:

  • Throwing from the side of the head, or with mostly one hand, or with one foot off the ground. Those enable farther throws, so aren’t allowed. (Note: The foot can come up after the ball is released, or before; only the moment of release matters).
  • Throwing from in front of the head rather than from behind. That enables a precise placement of the ball at a teammate’s feet, so isn’t allowed.

A wise ref won’t call every bad throw-in: If a 9-year-old’s foot was a little up, so what? Letting the kids play may be more fun, and refs aim for “safe, fair, and fun”. Instead, the ref may talk to players, and only make a call after repeated violations or for blatantly-bad throw-ins.

By the way, (unlike in basketball) a player’s feet may be on the line — even on the field of play, as long as neither foot is entirely on the field of play.

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