It’s one of the most difficult rules to understand and officiate: free space to goal, more commonly known as shooting space. As a defender, you should try to avoid a shooting-space violation in the critical scoring area, which gives a free-position shot to the offense.

Picture an ice cream cone, with the goal-circle serving as the sweet stuff and the attacking player with the ball as the point of the cone. The area covered in between is shooting space. In this area, a defender covering the ball carrier with the opportunity to shoot must be within a stick’s length of the attacker. Any farther, and she will be whistled for a violation for denying the shooter a chance to shoot safely.

The space changes shape as the attacking player moves around, like a hurricane prediction model. The edges go from the point of the cone to each side of the goal circle where it connects with goal line extended. A defender can hold her stick in shooting space, as long as her body is out, and can stick with off-ball players in the area and still be legal. But in a one-on-one situation, either play defense like glue or get out of the way.

Watch the 10-minute video below to gain a better understanding of this commonly misunderstood foul.


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