“Trust of officials by coaches is built on consistently.”
John Wooden

If all officials had a similar understanding of the critical “processing points” used to adjudicate plays and always had the same open look at each play they would probably be seen as being much more consistent in their approach to calling plays.

But, as we know humans did not come out of the same mold and are not very consistent in any aspects of their life. The only completely consistent folks I know are dead. However, consistency within the approach to calling similar plays the same way is paramount to having a successful outing.. The mantra is “Call similar plays the same on each end.” This is easier said than done.

The first problem is seeing similar plays the same way. That means having the same look at the play. Maybe, the first similar play was called by the Center official and the second similar play, which might come several minutes later by the way, is ruled on by the Lead. They each had a different perspective on a similar play, but that perspective may have caused them to rule differently.

It also means having the same fundamental understanding of the processing points or officiating guidelines for the type of play at hand. We are speaking about RSBQ, “time and distance,” “verticality” “rerouting,” “chucking,” “dislodge,” displace” and the like. If one official has a deeper and clearer understanding of verticality than another he/she may possibly rule differently on similar situations.

Also, the patience displayed in sounding the whistle by one official may result in passing on a call where a less patient official might blow on a very similar play. Seeing the play begin¸ unfold and finish is an important skill for officials to develop.

Then, how similar do plays have to be, to be ruled the same way? Do they have to be identical? Are all drives to the hole similar? It certainly take a lot of experience to slice the different layers of a particular type of play and rule them similar.

Finally, officials have to be aware of what their partners have call on particular plays and be ready to “match” those calls if a similar play arises on the other end of the floor. Officials cannot work in a vacuum. They must be aware of how their partners are ruling on different types of plays all over the court.

It is obviously a really big challenge for an officiating crew to be as consistent as they can possibly be. The pre-game conference may be an ideal place to try and consolidate different points of views on different types of basketball plays in an attempt to be as consistent as possible.

I encourage officiating crews to get together for a few moments during every full timeout and point out to each other particular plays they may want to try and match if at all possible and which plays maybe we kicked and certainly don’t want to match.

There are several responses to coaches that might be used when they complain that we didn’t call that play the same on the other end of the court. The best and most honest retort may well be to say, “We didn’t see it as the same play.”
In the clip below we see two similar, but not identical, plays that occur within seconds of each other on different ends of the court. The coach doesn’t miss a beat in beginning to advocate for his team. The trail official, who was lead on the first drive to the bucket and trail on the second play, does a good job listening to the coach and responding to him that they were not the same play. The coach doesn’t agree and continues to make his case and the official continues to listen and restates that the plays were different.

I agree with the officials on this one. While they are both drives to the basket, the first drive looks like it is forced and there is not a whole lot of contact. On the second drive the ball handler has a clear path to the bucket when he is bumped. Two no whistles on the first play and two whistles on the last play all by the same officials

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