Referee Tips

Referee Tips


Below is a list of referee tips and key focus areas based on learnings from the referee clinics and feedback from coaches.  


Be the expert - Read the rules several times throughout the season so you know them well.

Short, sharp and loud - Make sure to blow your whistle short, sharp and loud. Make sure everyone hears it. 

Avoid four eyes on the ball - Officiating requires two referees to work together - one is responsible for on-the-ball coverage and the other for off-the-ball coverage. Imagine each half of the playing court is divided into rectangles with three along the baseline and three along the half-court line. The lead referee covers the rectangle area under the hoop and either the rectangle area to the left or right of the hoop. The trail referee covers the remaining four rectangles. This avoids both referees watching the ball and missing off-the-ball coverage.

See space, see space, see space - Position yourself to see space between the offensive and defensive player. This will put you in a better position to make a good call.

Rotate positions - Referees should rotate positions regularly after each foul is called. If no foul has been called for a while, take the opportunity to rotate when the play has stopped to avoid one referee making all the calls at one end of the court.

Time out is max one minute - Time outs are a maximum one minute. At 50 seconds, approach the player's bench to get players back on the court ready to play. If a coach calls a timeout, referees are responsible to ensure it is a maximum one minute. Get the games started again quickly as games are non-stop time.

Moving picks - Setting a screen (or pick) is allowed in our league, although Basketball BC doesn't recommend this concept be introduced until players are at least 12 years or older. When a screen is set, the player setting a screen must be stationary with both feet on the floor when contact occurs. If the player setting the screen is moving, it is a violation.

Over and back Over and back is called when both the player's feet AND the Ball cross the centre line and then the player returns to the back court. If only one foot and/or the ball crosses, it is not over and back. Note: When playing two games concurrently at Andre Piolat or other smaller gyms, please be lenient with the over-and-back rule (courts are smaller).       

Color, Number, Violation, Consequence - The best referees are loud, clear and assertive. Make your calls loud so that old lady in the back row can hear you. Remember: Call color and number of the player followed by the violation and consequence.  "RED 10, TRAVELLING, WHITE BALL."

When is possession arrow turned? - Possession arrow is changed after the tip-off and only during held balls. At the start of the second half, the team who has the possession arrow in their favour, receives the ball (it is not who lost the tip ball at the start of the game). The possession arrow does not change if there is a foul. Possession is awarded to the team that was fouled.

How long for a held ball? - A held ball occurs when one or more players of each opposing team have one or both hands firmly on the ball so that neither player can gain control without undue roughness. Please ere on the side of caution and make the call quickly (about 1 to 3 seconds) to avoid injury.

Getting up from knees - If a player gets up from their knees or from a lying position without dribbling, it is travelling. FIBA rules say, "It is legal when a player falls and slides on the floor while holding the ball or, while lying or sitting on the floor, gains control of the ball. It is a violation if the player then rolls or attempts to stand up while holding the ball."

Time keeps ticking - Games are non-stop time so ensure you keep the games moving quickly. Report calls to the scorekeepers desk quickly and encourage players to substitute quickly. Fewer explanations of calls are likely needed as we progress through the season.

No referee check-in required after basket scored - If team A scores, the referee does not need to check the ball to team B before the inbound. Team B player is allowed to move the length of the baseline to make the inbound pass after the basket is scored. If there is a whistle at anytime (foul, timeout, violation), the referee checks the ball to the team who receives possession. 

Fouls - Read pages 33 to 43 of the FIBA rules on fouls. It describes an imaginary cylinder occupied by a player on the floor including the space above the player. During the game, each player has the right to occupy any position (cylinder) not already occupied by an opponent. The legal guarding position extends vertically above the player (cylinder) from the floor to the ceiling. The player may raise his arms and hands above his head or jump vertically but he must maintain them in a vertical position inside the imaginary cylinder.  Some highlights:

    • Defensive player must establish an initial legal guarding position by facing the player with the ball and having both feet on the floor
    • Defensive player may remain stationary, jump vertically, move laterally or backwards in order to maintain the initial legal guarding position
    • When moving to maintain the inital legal guarding position, one foot of both feet may be off the floor for an instant, as long as the movement is lateral or backwards, but not towards the player with the ball

Introduce yourself to coaches - Please introduce yourself to both team coaches before the game. Our coaches have many years experience and their goal is to develop players so they may remind you about rules that they feel are important to developing players such as focussing on calling double teaming, reaching, blocking or shooting fouls. Coaches are asked not to challenge referee calls during the game, but may discuss their concerns or provide comments with referees at half time or at the end of the game. If coaches are “chirping” at you about calls, talk to both team coaches at half time so they can voice their concerns.

Man-to-man defence - Players must play man-to-man defence and be within arm's reach of their check when their check is within three feet of the key. Post players may not stand in the key unless their check is within arm’s reach. Help defence is allowed and encouraged but not at the expense of man-to-man play. Man-to-man defence is a fundamental skill that players need to learn, it ensures players keep an eye on both their check and the ball and allows the offence team to drive to the basket rather than being forced to take an outside shot.

No double teaming - If a player is stationary, they may only be checked by one player. If a player is dribbling, another player may help if they are within reach of the player, but they may not leave their own check in order to do so. If a player is picked up by a different check, their original check may not continue to cover that player as well.

For Grade 2/3 and 4/5 division - No stealing the ball from a stationary player. This encourages players with the ball to look up rather than turtle with their backs to the basket. They will still have to pivot to create passing lanes, but they will have the time and the opportunity to do so (lunging for a ball in the hands of a stationary player is a poor defensive technique at the older levels anyway). To discourage kids from holding the ball in the forbidden zone, defensive player could be allowed to place their hand on the ball (to prevent a shot) but not allow them to grab the ball away.

Legal guarding position - A defensive legal guarding position is when the player has both feet on the ground and the player is facing the offensive player. In a legal guarding position, the defending player can move laterally and back without fouling.

Calling zone defence is difficult - Players must play man-to-man defence and be within arm's reach of their check when their check is within three feet of the key. It can be difficult for referees to identify that a zone defence is being played. One indicator of a zone defence is when the offensive player moves but the defensive check remains stationary. Referees may want to talk to both team coaches at half time if concerns are raised about zone defence.

Whistle should be in mouth - Referees can make quicker calls when the whistle is ready to blow in the mouth. The only time the whistle should be removed from the mouth is during the jump ball as it may cause injury if players knock the referee during the jump.

Foot foul - A player shall not deliberately kick or block the ball with any part of the leg, however, to accidentally come into contact with or touch the ball with any part of the leg is not a violation. 

Jump ball - The jump ball is only used to start the game. The referee shall toss the ball vertically upwards between the two opponents, higher than either of them can reach by jumping.

Shooting foul shots - There are allowed to be five rebounders. The first two rebounding spots are above the block on either side and are reserved for the defensive players. The next two positions are reserved for the offence. The next position is reserved for the defenders with their choice of one side of the key or the other. If the defender takes the spot, the other spot cannot be occupied by anyone. Players are not required to occupy any spaces if they choose not to. If this occurs, then the spot shall remain empty. Rebounders can enter as soon as the ball is released by the free throw shooter. The shooter can enter after the shot strikes the rim. Players not in the lane space, must remain outside the three-point line and the free throw line extended and cannot move inside the three-point line until the ball strikes the rim.