Slow Down

Almost all high school basketball officials could benefit by slowing down after they put air in the whistle. So many of us, especially when working lead or trail, want to take off for the scorer’s table immediately after filling up the fox that we actually lose credibility and we lose a great opportunity to instill confidence in those watching us officiate.

Sound the whistle with confidence and display a strong authoritative foul signal. (I like the ice pick technique.) Hold this foul signal three or four seconds and close down on the scene of the crime. If the foul happen right in front of you, then just hold your position for a period of time. If the foul occurred fifteen or twenty feet away close toward the scene with three or four quick steps.

The trail may rule a foul on a dribble drive to the rack that occurred 12 feet from him or her, but by the time the whistle is sounded and eyes go to the official, the players may now be twenty five feet away from the calling official. If that official stands flatfooted and does not close on the play it will appear to all concerned like a long distance AT&T call. The call becomes less believable.

When officials sound the whistle and immediately take off for the table they short change themselves by not appearing connected to the play that they just ruled on. It takes an instant or two for players, coaches and fans to focus on the calling official.. If by the time they find that official, he or she is on a dead run toward the table they give the impression that they were not connected or even in position to rule on the play correctly. It is a subconscious thing.

Another problem that occasionally arises when officials are in a hurry to leave the scene of the crime is that words can be exchanged between the player who fouled and the player who was fouled. This may be more true if the foul was “hard” or if the player who was fouled was airborne and ended up on the floor. Call the foul and close a step or three and make sure everything is copacetic at the spot of the foul before leaving to go report. Non calling trail and center officials should be quick to respond as well and should close to the action when a player is fouled and goes to the floor.

For some reason many officials are in a big hurry to give a pre-signal almost immediately after sounding the whistle. They barely show their foul signal before they are going to a hand check signal.
The foul signal is authoritative! It exudes confidence and strength. It is the icon for decisiveness.

Sound the whistle, give a good fouls signal, hold it, and close a step or two toward the foul. Then give your hand check or block signal. Slow down and show your confidence

While holding the foul signal, do the paper work. There is always paperwork with any crime. The calling official’s paperwork consists of making sure the player who fouled knows as much, and letting all involved know how and where play is to resume.

Use your “voice of authority.” “25, That’s yours! Blue ball baseline. That is all there is to the paperwork. So easy but so important. It may be the most important administrative job officials do. If the paperwork is done in a timely manner ten players and two officials know what they need to do next and where they need to go.

The video clip below shows a top flight officials who could instill even more confidence in players and coaches when it comes to his whistles ,if he would just close two or three strides toward the foul, hold his signal three or four seconds as he used his “voice of authority” doing the paperwork.

In the video clip below we see a melee that might have been averted had the calling official slowed down and closed on the foul. As it was he was in a hurry to give an intentional foul signal and can be seen walking to the table when the trouble starts. Additionally the center official might have been a little quicker closing on the play when the shooter went to the floor.

The clip below shows the Colorado Official known as “The Wizard of OZ” closing down with some urgency on a foul that was some distance away. By closing down rather than standing still he looks more connected to the play and the call becomes much more believable.

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