Loose-ball situations are not “free-for-alls.”

There are too many players leaping on top of the opponent on the floor who has already secured the ball. The player jumping in typically uses his or her body to leverage for the ball, securing an advantage, but eventually tying it up for a held ball. That type of contact is a foul. Officials should look more closely at that play, and rule a foul rather than taking the easy (and wrong) way out by giving a quick held-ball signal.

Get close to the action on shoves, holds and piling on.

Don’t hesitate to call a foul when someone comes flying into the fray. Look for the shove, hold or just plain “piling on.” Establish good leadership with your partners by discussing those potential situations before the game. Then you’ll be ready for the next “kamikaze dive.”

Do not whistle a held ball as quickly as possible.

That is a common mistake; premature calling of a held ball should be avoided. Three key situations come to mind: (a) While A1 is holding the ball, B1 reaches in and merely touches the ball for a moment or two; (b) During a loose-ball situation, several opponents dive after the ball in an attempt to gain control. In the process, there is some incidental contact and it doesn’t look too good; (c) During a field-goal attempt, B1 blocks the ball after it has traveled only a couple of inches from the shooter’s hand and the ball is then caught by the shooter, who returns to the floor. In all of those cases, nothing has occurred to cause a held ball. The main criterion that applies is that opponents did not have their hands so firmly on the ball that control could not be obtained without undue roughness. Moral: Don’t call a held ball just because “it looks bad” or to avoid trouble.

During loose-ball plays, watch arms, body and ball.

When two players are going for a ball, chances are there will be some contact. Not all contact is a foul. But just because the ball is loose doesn’t mean players can do whatever they want to each other. The rules for guarding remain the same whether the ball is loose or in the hands of a player.

· Arms: When players are going for the ball, arms will fly. Make sure the players aren’t making illegal contact as they are running toward the ball.

· Body: When a player feels that an opponent has gained an advantage, his or her tendency is to lean. In the process, the player is often displacing his or her opponent. Be ready for it.

· Ball: If a foul is called, the status of the ball is important. Player control? Team control? Know where the ball is in order to properly administer the play.





· Give a slight pause before blowing your whistle.

· Another asset in the official’s arsenal is a patient whistle. A split-second of reflection provides the opportunity to see the result of the play before ruling on it, and thus determine whether the contact was a foul or incidental.


· Know if the foul during a rebound situation has possession consequence implications. If it doesn’t, it may be best to pass. If it does, it is likely a foul.

· Before you whistle a foul during a rebounding situation, wait an extra second to be sure the players involved haven’t “cleaned off” each other, in which case you could have a no-call situation. Too often officials have tendencies to react spontaneously to rebounding contact before judging whether it had any real impact on the play.

· That can be prevented by allowing the play to fully develop, or by seeing that the contact precluded it from developing, before making a judgment on the contact. It’s a terrible feeling to immediately react to a slight rebounding bump by blowing your whistle, and then a second later seeing that those two players “cleaned off” each other and there’s a foot or more space between them.

· To judge whether contact results in a foul, see it in the context of an entire play sequence. Give yourself a tad more time to view the entire play. It will make the difference between making good and not-so-good calls.

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