What is a Carry in Basketball? – Rules and Implications

Last Updated on: 3rd October 2023, 07:48 pm

Basketball is a fast-paced game requiring players to have skills such as dribbling, passing, shooting, attacking, defending, etc… And ball handling is one of the game’s most challenging and fundamental aspects! That is controlling the ball while moving in the court. It may seem simple, but remember, pros make it look easier. What is a Carry in basketball?

Understanding the Carry Basketball Rule and Implications

If you do not regularly attend youth basketball leagues or watch high school games, you may have never heard of a carry in basketball. The violation is not commonly called in professional or college basketball games. Referees tend to overlook it as the players at this level are highly skilled and are given less importance than other game rules. As a result, people who casually follow basketball may need to be made aware of what carrying is and how it affects the game.

Even though carrying violations are not frequently called, it does not mean that they do not occur during games. In the past, the rules regarding carrying were strictly enforced, but nowadays, referees may be more relaxed with the call. This can sometimes lead to controversy during games, and fans who are passionate about the sport may feel that the referees are not being fair. Therefore, it is important to understand the concept of a carry in basketball and its rules to understand the game completely.

Rules of the Carry in Basketball (What is a Carry in Basketball)

Rules of the Carry in Basketball

While the rule of carrying has been around in basketball for a long time, some players and fans still have difficulties understanding what it means. Back when basketball was first invented, players didn’t even dribble during the game. But as the sport evolved, so did the rules, which led to the creation of many different regulations.

Although carrying is an important rule in basketball, it can be quite simple to understand. It’s a bit like understanding a field goal, which is one of the most basic concepts in basketball. However, because this type of fault is not called very often in the big leagues like NBA, WNBA, or even in European pro leagues, and there are so many other rules to remember, it can be tough for some people to understand what it means fully.

Short answer: in basketball, carrying is considered a traveling offense, which happens when a player holds or palms the ball for an extended period without dribbling. To be called, the player’s palm must be positioned underneath the ball’s plane when changing its course or in a way that disrupts the dribbling motion. Or, in simpler terms, let’s say a play having the ball in both hands or one hand can give 2 steps without dribbling the ball and without being called a fault. If he takes 3 steps without dribbling between each step, that’s called carrying/traveling, and the fault is called.

Also Read: What is Rim Rest Basketball?

Implications of Committing a Carry Violation

A carry in basketball can have severe implications for the team that committed it. The first consequence is that it results in a turnover, which means the opposing team gains possession of the ball. This can be a huge problem, especially if the carry occurs during a critical moment in the game, like during a fast break or a scoring opportunity.

Moreover, the referees may call a foul if a player commits multiple carry violations during the game. Also, This can lead to the opposing team getting free throws, giving them a significant advantage. Therefore, players must avoid committing a carry violation, as it can lead to a loss of possession and result in the opposing team scoring more points. But this is highly unlikely since, for example, in an NBA game, maybe there are 2/3 carry’s called during the entire match.

How to Avoid Carry in Basketball?

Players wise: To prevent committing a carry violation while playing basketball, you should actively work on improving your dribbling skills through consistent practice. Practicing your dribbling repeatedly will improve your ability to handle the ball. So, take charge of your basketball training and try to perfect your dribbling technique to avoid committing a carry violation during games.

Teachers wise: To help your basketball players avoid carrying the ball and keep possession of it, it’s important to teach them the rule and consequences of carrying. Once players understand the “penalties” of this fault, they can actively work to try not to do it and improve their game at best!

Coaches can help in this learning process by implementing regular drills and exercises that help the players improve their skills in handling the ball. Also, a great way to help them, especially young ones, is through encouragement and positive reinforcement to the successful players. By being an active coach, you can help them become more skilled at the game and develop their abilities to their fullest potential. Ultimately, if players and coaches follow these guidelines more honestly, it will make the game of basketball more exciting and enjoyable for everyone involved, players and fans!


To become a skilled basketball player, one must master ball-handling techniques such as crossovers, hesitation moves, and shot fakes to avoid committing a carry violation and the resulting embarrassment of the referee’s call. In today’s game, the decision to call a carry is often subjective and depends on the referee’s judgment.

While palming violations do frequently occur in professional leagues, referees may choose to overlook these basketball rules to avoid prolonging the game. However, it’s important to note that carry violations can still occur, albeit less frequently. As a player, it’s essential to be confident in trying new moves but also to keep the carry rules in mind to avoid violations.

In conclusion, becoming a successful basketball player requires mastering ball-handling skills while being aware of the rules and regulations of the game. While carrying violations may not be called frequently, it’s crucial to remain cautious and follow the rules to prevent any negative impact on the game. By practicing and developing strong ball-handling abilities, players can avoid carrying violations while showcasing their talent on the court.