What is a Carry in Basketball?

A “carry” is known as having a hand over the ball and then “palming the ball” or “turning the ball over.” It’s also a violation in basketball when the ball handler scoops their hand underneath the ball or places their hand on the lower half of the ball during dribbling — which causes the ball to come to a brief rest. If the ball handler then starts to dribble (or moves their feet), then this becomes a moving violation.

A carry also in basketball  terminology, is when a player steps out of bounds with the ball without an opposing player touching them. Carrying the ball can result in either a violation turnover or just having to replay possession if the other team did not have clear possession.

Rules of a Carry in Basketball:

The following are some rules that govern what counts as a carry:

Ball Must Be In the Player’s Hand

In the game of basketball, the ball must be in a player’s hand. If the ball hits the ground, then it is not a carry since the player lost possession of it.

If a player is jumping, they cannot step out of bounds without another player touching them until after they have landed and established themselves with both feet on the ground.

Throwing Ball and Touching the Floor

If a player throws (pitches) the ball to another teammate, they cannot touch the floor without another player touching them until after it has been touched by their teammate. If they do, it is a carry and possession reverts to the other team.

Players Cannot Take More Than Four Steps

Players cannot take more than four steps after being pushed by an opposing player. Moreover, players cannot take more than three steps after ‘gaining control of the ball’ (e.g. receiving a pass).

Keeping One Foot in Bounds

It will not be a carry if the out of bounds line cuts through one or both of their feet while they are holding the ball. This means it is possible for a player to have one foot out of bounds while the other is in bounds.

Touching the Line

A carry if the ball touches the line before coming into view between their legs.

Coming Into Contact With an Opposing Team Member

-It will not be a carry if the player does not come into contact with an opposing team member after going out of bounds.

Violation of Rules

-If a player violates any rule while carrying the ball, it will result in a violation turnover.

Making a Goal

-If there is a carry by the opposing team and results in a goal, it is a goal for them.


Do NBA players get away with a carry in a game?



A carry in basketball is a violation that results in a possession that reverts to the other team. A player can commit one or more consecutive carries during a play — and it will count as one penalty.