Can you catch your own airball

Can You Catch Your Own Airball? (Explained)

Imagine you’re on the basketball court, attempting a shot with all your might. The ball leaves your hand, but something goes awry. It’s not even close to the hoop; it’s an airball. 

Now, a question might arise: Can you catch your own airball? 

Well, basketball has lots of rules, but some are more puzzling than others. The rule about catching your own airball might leave you scratching your head. 

So, let’s unravel the mystery of whether it’s okay for the shooter to grab their own ball. Is there more to it? Let’s find out.  

Understanding Airball

Understanding an airball in basketball is like unraveling a common misstep in the game. So, what exactly is an airball? 

What is basketball airball?

Well, in simple terms,  it’s when a player takes a shot and that shot misses everything—no rim, no backboard, and no net. 

It’s like trying to hit the bullseye and completely missing the target. Airballs can happen in various situations, from a regular 5-on-5 game to free throws.

Now, let’s break down why airballs may happen:

Poor Techniques

Sometimes, players just mess up the shot. Maybe they release the ball at the wrong angle, don’t apply the right amount of power, or use inconsistent hand placement. 


When players are tired, their muscles lack the strength needed for an accurate shot, often resulting in airballs. 


Under high-pressure situations, like critical game moments, players may feel the stress, impacting their shooting accuracy and causing airballs. 

3 Confusions About Catching Airball

Alright, catching your own airball in basketball can be a bit puzzling. Let’s break it down:

1. Catching Your Own Airball

If you’re the one who made that not-so-great shot, you’re allowed to catch it, except in the NBA (we’ll get to that later). This means you get a second chance to make the shot. 

2. Opposing Team’s Reaction

Here’s where it can get a little tricky. The other team might not be thrilled about this, right? They could argue that you traveled (moved without dribbling) or committed a foul (broke a rule). So, you shouldn’t get a chance to score after your own airball. 

3. Fun and Teasing

Fans can be a playful bunch, and they love to have a good time. When a player misses a shot so badly that it’s almost comical, you might hear them chant “airball” just to have some fun at the player’s expense. 

Different Rules About Catching Airball

Catching your own airball in basketball is a topic that piques curiosity and leads to debates across different levels of play. The rules surrounding this act can vary depending on whether you’re in high school, the NBA, or other basketball leagues. Let’s explore these:

Can You Catch Your Own Airball in High School?

In high school basketball, it’s allowed to catch your own airball. The National Federation of High Schools rulebook clarifies that a player who recovers their own airball isn’t committing a violation.

So, if you shoot and the ball misses everything—the hoop, the backboard—you can grab it before anyone else or it hits the ground. 

There’s a catch: You have to actually aim for the hoop when you shoot it. If it seems like you are passing to yourself, the referee’s whistle will blow, calling it traveling.

Can You Catch Your Own Air Ball in the NBA?

Now, let’s shift the focus to the NBA when things take a different turn. In the NBA, catching your own airball is a big “no.”

Yes, in the NBA, if you throw up an airball, you can’t be the first to touch it again unless it bounces off something like the backboard, rim, or another play. 

This rule aims to keep the game fair and balanced by preventing players from scoring an easy basket by catching their own misses.

In simple words, the NBA wants everyone to focus on shooting and passing, making the game more fun to watch and play.

Explore some fun facts about basketball as a game.

What Happens if You Don’t Catch Your Own Airball? 

What Happens If Don’t Catch Your Own Airball? 

So, what happens if you don’t manage to catch your own airball in basketball? Well, it leads to a few possible outcomes:

1. Out of Bounds 

If you’re unable to catch your airball and it doesn’t touch any player to the rim, the ball goes out of bounds. This results in a change of possession, and the opposing team gains control of the ball. 

2. TeamMate’s Rebound 

Sometimes, your teammate might be in a position to grab the airball before it goes out of bounds. In this case, your team retains possession, and you get another chance to score. 

3. The opposing team’s Rebound 

On other occasions, a player from the opposing team could take the opportunity to rebound the airball. This is often seen as a mistake or a lost opportunity, as it hands the ball over to the opposition. 

What Are the Rules of Catching an Airball?

Understanding the rules for catching an airball in basketball is essential. So, let’s break it down:

NBA Rules:

  • In the NBA, catching your own airball is a no-go. It’s considered traveling, which is a violation. 
  • You’re only allowed to grab your own airball if another player touches it before you do. 

High School, NCAA, and FIBA Rules:

  • In other leagues, you can catch your own airball. But it’s allowed as long as your shot was intentional. 

Pickup Games 

  • In pickup games, things can get a bit confusing. Players often decide what rules to follow before the game starts. 
  • The majority’s preference and the league they’re emulating can influence the choice. 
  • Pickup games are typically more relaxed about basketball rules. They’re all about having fun and practicing with friends. 

4 Techniques To Improve The Shot 

Improving your basketball shooting is all about getting the basics right and practicing them. Let’s talk about the tips that can help you become a better shooter:

1. Balance and Stance 

Your feet and how you stand matter a ton. Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart and give your news a slight bend. Keep your weight on the balls of your feet and try not to lean forward or backward. This stance sets you up for success. 

2. Focus on The Target 

When you’re taking a shot, keep your eyes on the rim. It might sound basic, right? But it’s crucial. This focus helps you aim accurately and consistently. 

3. The Right Grip 

Your grip on the ball is a big deal. Spread your fingers out and let the ball sit on the pads of your fingers, not your palms. This grip gives you control and accuracy. 

4. Gradual Practice 

Start with the easy shots close to the basket and gradually work your way to more challenging ones. Pay close attention to your shooting form and make sure you follow through on every shot. 

Few Amazing Airball Catches

Let’s talk about some pretty amazing moments in basketball when players managed to catch airballs and turn them into something special. These catches are like little gems on the court:

1. Julian Wright (2008) 

Back in 2008, Julian Wright wowed the crowd with his leaping ability. He caught an airball and didn’t just grab it, he threw it down with a powerful shot. It was a fantastic display of athleticism and quick thinking. 

2. Demarcus Holland (2015)

In 2015, Demarcus Holland pulled off a remarkable move. He caught his airball and smoothly converted it into an easy layup before the opposing team’s defenders could even react. 

It left everyone, from the opposing coach to the commentators, in awe. Some even called for a traveling violation, but the referees let the basket stand.

Final Thoughts on Basketball Airball Rules

In the world of basketball, the rules surrounding catching your airball can be a fascinating puzzle. From high school to the NBA, the rules transform. 

Certainly, catching their airball is a hidden opportunity, where players can turn an embarrassing moment into a brilliant play. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Can You Pass The Ball To Yourself In Basketball?

In Basketball, you can’t pass the ball to yourself as it’s considered a violation. The ball must be passed to a teammate following the rules of the game.

Is It a Steal to Catch an Airball?

No, catching an airball is not considered a steal in basketball. A steal is when a defensive player legally takes the ball away from an offensive player who has possession.

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Behind Best Darn Product is Kevin Pena, a passionate blogger and e-commerce enthusiast based in Atlanta, Georgia. With his finger on the pulse of the ever-growing online marketplace, Kevin is dedicated to sharing his extensive knowledge and genuine enthusiasm for the products and services that shape our modern lives.

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