The trail official should be behind the play in the backcourt during transition to the frontcourt, and, as soon as the ball has been moved to the frontcourt, shift and take a position just above the continuation of the free-throw line.
The best position of the trail official is the best offensive player’s position. The trail must see the offensive and defensive players, their feet, the ball, and keep in view the ring, the game clock and the shot clock, and the other referees.
The best position of the lead official is the best defensive player’s position, i.e. the lead must take the position so as: to be able to see the offensive player and be in front of him; to know where the ball and the ring are; to anticipate the development of the play as if being a defensive player.
The lead official must control the top and the bottom of a play by their side, i.e. their look should go bottom-up or top-down whenever the ball is in their coverage area. In such a situation the viewing angle should not be horizontal (widewise), but vertical (heightwise). If the lead controls a play without the ball, then the viewing angle should be wide, i.e. from left to right, horizontal. It is undesirable to be near the baseline or directly under the basket.
Errors of the lead official: being in a “closed to the game” position; being too close to the baseline; rotating too rapidly; rotating during a fast break; staying too long under the ring.
The trail and center officials should look wide horizontally controlling their coverage areas on the court.
The trail official must constantly monitor players entering the restricted (three-second) area and crossing the 3-point line during the last or only free throw.
The center official must be active all the time. He must constantly move from side to side, forward and backward in order to select the best position. Just as the trail official, he must also control the game clock and the shot clock.
During a fast-break and the first long pass, the game should remain under control of the center official. The lead does not always have time to take the best position while the play has already gone away from the trail. It is easier for the center to see the beginning of the play and its progress.
When an offensive player receives the ball and is closely guarded by a defensive player, it is necessary to monitor the ball, the pivot foot of the offensive player and feet of the defensive player.
The rule of “Two Steps”. The referee should always be in such a position so that he is able to take the optimal position for making the only correct decision just in two steps.
The referee who monitors players without the ball should have the widest view possible.
It is necessary for the referee to try and determine their future position depending on the stance of the defender. If the defender is trying to make the guarded player with the ball go left that is to say to the weak side, the offensive player will be looking for an opportunity to go to the other, stronger side (to the right). The referee, therefore, must be prepared to take a position to the right from the players, as the play will most likely develop in this direction.
The defensive player hits the ball top-down but the referee does not see the moment of the blow. The flight trajectory of the knocked out ball can give some information. If the ball goes straight down then the foul is unlikely because there was a contact with the ball, if the ball goes sideways, it is likely that there was a contact with a hand or hands of the offensive player. The ball’s flight path is one of the decision factors. When in doubt, do not guess and rather leave the play without a call.
The three main aspects to control in the game are: the game without the ball; setting screens (over 30 different ways); actions of the center players.
The referee should avoid standing behind the shooting or dribbling player (because in that case everything happens in one line).
When calling a foul, never make a call “to the back”. Always look for the “cut”, the space between the players. A call made when the referee is in one line with the offensive player and the defender is often a guessing call. You will never be confidence in its objectivity.
One should also take into account players’ ruse, when after a shot made, players of the offensive team intentionally touch the ball or take it in their hands or slightly, as if by accident, throw or hit the ball towards the endline. In this case the referee needs to see and evaluate the intention of the players who did this, since it is oftentimes that the players beat off the ball in the wrong direction, a little bit to the side, in order to win time to return to defense and prevent a fast throw-in and, consequently, a possible fast break of the opponents. It is necessary to be aware of these tricks and be prepared to react to such actions.
During a throw-in it is not advisable to come close to the player taking the throw-in, there is no need to pass the ball from hand to hand. As an alternative, the referee can stay 2-3 meters away from the player taking the throw- in and bounce the ball to the player. From this position, the eyes have a better perspective to control not only the player with the ball out-of-bounds, but the whole game situation (struggle for the ball). Thus, the referee will have the optimum position with an open view and game control.
Video analysis («video intelligence») of the opposing teams is the key to good work, a kind of introduction into officiating the upcoming game.
A pre-game discussion is necessary for developing common interpretation criteria of both, simple and complex, controversial game situations for the whole crew of officials, including the commissioner and the table officials.
A pre-game discussion is a way of establishing the rapport between the crew members not only in the lexicon (words), but also in images (pictures, diagrams).
Officiating is a mental process of quick reading, analyzing, and promptly finding solutions to the many, constantly changing game situations inside a “psychological wrap”.
Experienced referees know when and where it is better to make a call, use words without interrupting the game, and where just a gesture is enough. The ability to competently interact with other game participants reduces excessive emotions. Referees should not instigate emotions, but should play a role of “firefighters” and calm them down. There should be no aggression or dictation on the court. There is no need to be liked by everyone, but it is of paramount importance to be open and understandable to everyone.
Referees should be aware of interests pursued by all the participants on the court. They should be able to perceive the game system, movement of players, and to control the game. A proper, timely decision is the most important thing in officiating. Experienced referees have a good sense of the game: being in the right place at the right time, making the right call appropriate for the situation is what distinguishes a professional official.
Before the beginning of the game you must choose methods of communication with the table officials and the commissioner. This includes gestures as well as voice communication, which gives confidence that your information will be understood and properly received at the scorer’s table. After showing a foul wait for the scorer’s feedback (a nod, a thumb up, a look, the number of personal fouls raised) and make the necessary rotation.
In the game, a referee is sometimes too close to the game situation and the decision they make is not completely true, and in some cases is a flagrant mistake. Being too close to the center of struggle, to the game itself means that the referee has not chosen the optimal position. For comparison, one may use the example of the subway: when you are in a car and try to read the name of a station on the run of the train, the inscription is right before your eyes, but is very difficult to read. However if at this moment you turn your head and look across the station hall, you will be able to read the name easily. Selecting the location and distance for game situation control is one of the key factors in mechanics. «You cannot see the face, looking right into the eyes!»
You should be able to focus on what is happening now and be able to forget about some unpleasant moments which have happened earlier in the game.
When playing defense players often use their hands incorrectly, even though they clearly see the offensive player in front of them. In many cases, this has to be interpreted as gaining unfair advantage because the defender hinders free movement of the attacking player. Constant repetition of such contact may cause the offensive player’s response, a harder contact (an arm block, etc.). The referee has to see such instances, to warn with words or gestures, and, if necessary, punish with a personal foul. It is important to be consistent and constant in the decision-making criteria, so that everyone understands your officiating (that has to be based on the rules of the game) from beginning to end.
In each game, the referee must choose a «corridor» of allowable contact. The main thing is to stay within this corridor, otherwise it can result in rough play. It is imperative to identify and show your intentions and criteria from the very beginning and keep them constant throughout the game. If necessary, you should make violation calls at the beginning, so as not to escalate the situation. It sometimes happens that novice referees let the teams play without perceiving the situation and the game itself. The players confront each other with increasing rudeness, which later on leads to unsportsmanlike and disqualifying fouls, unnecessary interruptions of the game. It is crucial to recognize, anticipate the further game development and be ready for it.
If the referee has doubts when evaluating a situation: “two points made or not”, “the player in the act of shooting or not”, then he should always take a positive decision: “two points made» and “the player in the act of shooting”. This is certainly a risk, but if the referee controlled the situation, in most cases the decision will be the right one. Highly qualified officials always take this risk. The risk is always justified.
When a rough foul occurs, and there is doubt whether it was a personal foul or an unsportsmanlike foul – always call a personal foul.
If there is any hesitation when blocking or a collision occur whether there was a foul or not, and the contact was to the body, then it is always an offensive foul.
Criteria for calling illegal contact: change of the movement rhythm and direction, loss of body balance and coordination, decrease in speed and jump height, etc.
During the last minutes of the game the referee should be ready to give a time-out or a make signal for substitution, because the requests for them are not always clearly seen by the scorer. The referee has to anticipate these instances. It is necessary to talk them over in the pre-game discussion and during the last timeouts with the other referees and the table officials.
During the game ending, it is recommended by the FIBA Official Rules Interpretations not to rely on the principle of “advantage / disadvantage”, but immediately call a foul.
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