What is a Carry in Basketball? [NBA Carrying Rule Explained]

Ever heard the word “carry” in basketball? Well a majority of us are unaware of this word and its definition. The concept is so diminished that we never even hear it in modern basketball games.

Even so, we often see a bunch of NBA players do it here and there. But we never realize it as it is an underrated topic. Although it cannot be ignored.

So, here’s the real question, “what is a carry in basketball?”

According to the definition, “when you place your hand underneath the basketball during a dribbling motion and when you grip the ball with your dribbling hand to impede the dribbling motion” is known as a carry violation.

As you can tell that a carry in basketball is a violation and the player can face a penalty for it.

But several players do it anyways and get away with it without receiving the penalty as they are not called very often in modern-day matches and college-level basketball.

But that is a separate discussion. The real question still exists and that is what exactly a carry is in basketball?

So, let’s jump into the debate:

How to Define a Carry in Basketball?

To put it in simple words, scooping your hands underneath the ball in order to rest the ball while dribbling is defined as a carry in basketball.

Let’s compare this statement to the official rules of NBA.

According to the carry rule of NBA, “a player who is dribbling may not put his hand under the ball and carry it from one point to another or bring it to a pause and continue dribbling again”.

But it’s not that simple. Some other factors come into play as well.

A carry in basketball can be called for various other reasons and such as when dribbling the ball high if the motion of the ball is stopped to control its height then it’s also called a carry.

Let us discuss some basic definitions and misconceptions of a carry in basketball:

Is Traveling and Carrying the Same Thing?

No, there is a clear difference between these two violations.

Carry is known as when a player puts their hand under the ball while dribbling to put the ball to rest for a moment.

Now, if we look at the definition of traveling in basketball, it states that “when a player takes more than two allotted steps while gathering the ball then it is called a traveling violation.

So the main difference between these two violations is the motion of the player. If the player is at rest while carrying the ball, then it’s simply a carry but if the player travels more than two steps while carrying then it’s a travel violation.

What is the Difference between a Carry and a Double Dribble?

Well, both of these violations are pretty similar just like the violations mentioned above. But there is a logical difference between them that separates both of them.

When a player resumes their dribbling after a sudden stop in their dribbling by one or both hands and then continues another dribble sequence then it’s called a double dribble violation.

in a carry, we already know that the violation occurs when the hand goes under the ball and the ball comes to rest for a moment.

One thing that is similar between these two violations is the resting of the ball for a short amount of time.

The difference is that the hand of the player goes under the ball in a carry violation and in a double dribble violation the hand under the ball does not matter unless the ball is rested for a short period.

Some other basketball moves can be observed as a carry.

Some of these moves are known as a crossover, hesitation dribble, shot fakes, etc.

But if you don’t perform these moves carefully then you can end up having a carry penalty. Also, all of the fouls made in these moves have one thing in common and that is to resting the ball for a moment to gain more control over it.

After all this, there arises another question, and that is, how do referees catch players doing a carry violation and what penalty do they give for it?

How do Referees Catch the Carry Violation and What is the Penalty for it?

Although it’s pretty simple, yet let me explain the whole process.

Sometimes it is really difficult for the referee to catch a player while carrying the ball because usually a lot of players are simply too good at doing it.

The referees usually keep an eye on the hand movement of the player. If for a sudden the hand goes under the ball and the motion of the ball is stopped for an instant, then the referee raises his arm and faces his palm toward the sky to indicate a carry violation.

Moreover, a turnover is given to the other team. The basketball will be given to the opponent team at the point where the violation occurred.

But we rarely see it happening in modern basketball games. Even though a lot of well-known NBA players tend to do it without facing the penalty?

Well, let’s discuss this topic in a detailed manner:

Do NBA Players Carry? If Yes, then Why do They Get Away With It?

In the modern game, we see plenty of players adapting to their unique skill sets and moves. Well, some of these moves become controversial and mostly argued by other teams.

Allen Iverson, a well-known, hall of Famer player was usually accused of carrying the ball by the opponents. His crossover dribble was his signature move. He was mostly accused of the carry violation in the process of this same move.

Another renowned player, Isaiah Thomas was normally seen carrying a lot. This was usually observed when he performed his half-spin move and his hands would get under the ball.

Furthermore, a lot of other famous NBA players such as Harden, Westbrook, Lebron James, Siakam, etc. are seen carrying the ball. However, they are not given any penalties.

Why do the Players Get Away With Carrying the Ball?

The most obvious answer to this question is that referees don’t call a carry in basketball because it would simply slow down the game. Most of the time players carry the ball a lot but it is ignored by the referees for the sake of a smooth game.

Another answer for this question is that it is usually hard for the referee to catch a player carrying. And the fact that most of the players atop of their game are very good at syncing the violation along with them outclass moves and gameplay.

Thus, even when a carry violation is detected by the referee, he or she ignores it for the sake of uninterrupted gameplay and under the influence of famous players. Hence, usually, no one gets a penalty for carrying in a modern-day game.

Furthermore, there are some frequently asked questions by people regarding the topic. Although there are plenty of answers too, let me answer the best within my knowledge and hours of research.

Frequently Asked Question – FAQ’s

Is a carry considered a travel in basketball?

To answer this question let’s understand what a travel is.

“When a player takes more than two allotted steps while gathering the ball then it is called a traveling violation”.

In the light of this explanation, a carry is not considered a travel in basketball, because you can carry the ball without even moving. Although a carry could lead to a travel that entirely depends upon the player and its movement.

Basketball players are seen carrying the ball but why don’t referees call it?

Usually, two main reasons come into play during this scenario.

The first reason is that it is quite difficult for the referees to catch a carry violation. Oftentimes, referees do not have a good viewing angle that leads to this result.

The second and the most appropriate reason is that referees simply ignore the violation for the sake of smooth and uninterrupted gameplay. Modern-day basketball games are fast-paced, thus stopping the gameplay at a crucial moment can ruin the game for both sides.

How can I stop carrying the ball?

To avoid doing a carry in basketball, one should first learn what a carry is.

“When you place your hand underneath the basketball during a dribbling motion and when you grip the ball with your dribbling hand to impede the dribbling motion” is known as a carry.

Now, to avoid carrying in basketball, one should avoid getting his or her hands under the basketball during dribbling. Also, avoid resting the ball even for a moment while dribbling.

Final thoughts: What is a Carry in Basketball?

A carry in basketball is a violation that occurs when you place your hand under the basketball while dribbling and the ball comes to rest for a moment so then you can impede the dribbling motion” This is known as a carry.

Although, a carry is a foul under the laws and rules of the NBA we hardly see any penalty given for it.

However, it is a game violation that should be avoided by every player at every level to ensure clean and fair gameplay for everyone.

So, that’s all from me. Share with us your thoughts about a carry in basketball, is it fair or not? Let us know in the comments below.

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