Prep for Bang-Bang Plays

By Referee

Crashes should not catch basketball officials by surprise. There are many considerations to prepare for a bang-bang play that turns into a block or charge ruling. Preparation helps you get it right.

If you don’t know where the defender is, you can’t make the correct ruling.

If there is a sudden crash in a block-charge situation that one of his officials misses,What were you officiating prior to the situation? Were you ball watching? You need to anticipate the action, but not what the decision will be.

Because today’s players are faster, there’s an ever-increasing need to stay focused on the court. Pick up the defender and be aware of what the offense is trying to do and get in the best position.

The play that sends observers up a tree is when the defender has established legal guarding position and stays put, and the offensive player moves into the defender. If one of the officials gets that ruling wrong, What were you looking at before the play? I do note ‘WDSDW? — What did he/she (the player) do wrong?’ — to find out what the official was thinking on the play.

Establishing Legality

The first step to prepping for a potential block-charge ruling is establishing legal guarding position for the defender. Think about it: If he/she has never established legal guarding position, it can never be a charge. To establish a legal guarding position, the defender must have two feet on the playing floor and torso facing the offensive player.

There is no minimum or maximum distance or time needed to get into a legal guarding position when the opponent has the ball.

The defender can move backward or maintain distance relative to her opponent.

When the legal guarding conditions are met, it is up to the offensive player to avoid contact.

See the play from beginning to end. Get in position to make the correct call. Otherwise nine out of 10 times you’re guessing, Mechanically, see through the play and “situate yourself to see both players” in a block-charge situation.

Double-Teaming and Traps

When a teammate comes over to help a primary defender, the block-charge scenario gets a bit more complicated. But the concept is the same: Legal guarding position must be established facing the offensive player. You may see two players assume legal guarding position in a trapping situation. When the offensive player leans in and makes significant enough contact, that’s a charge. Traps are no free rein to bowl the defender over.

If there are two defenders, reasonable space for the offensive player must be allowed for him or her to continue on her path without the second defender squeezing into his or her space.

If the offensive player beats his or her primary, that is the more typical scenario where a secondary defender comes into play. Once the offensive player’s head and shoulders are past the defender, the secondary defender must then assume legal guarding position to draw a charge. The second defender has an obligation to establish a legal guarding position or be called for blocking.

When an offensive player is “using body parts he or she shouldn’t be using or forcing his or her way through a legally established defender,it’s clearly a foul on the offensive player.

We don’t want the offensive player using his or her torso to get around the defender and gaining an advantage. No hooks or elbows are allowed by the offensive player. If the offensive player’s torso is past the defender, then the responsibility for contact is on the defender.

The Shooter

Sometimes basketball officials get excited when a shot goes up. They follow the ball rather than the play. Then they don’t see the shooter come down, where the potential for a block-charge exists.

If you are the official on the shooter, see the shooter go up and back down. Make sure the defender has not squeezed into the shooter’s vertical space.

In this situation, whether the center or trail official has the shooter, the official must stay with the shooter while the other official follows the ball. Prepare for this in your pregame.

Correctly officiating the block-charge rule is tough. It’s frequently raised as one of the most difficult decisions for basketball officials. But if you keep the core principles of legal guarding position in mind, you’ll raise your call accuracy.

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