Below are some thoughts about officiating held balls.

Check the arrow after the initial jump ball to make sure that the arrow got set and got set correctly. It is amazing how many times scorers forget to set the arrow after the opening tip.

Know who’s ball it is going to be before you have a held ball. That arrow is sitting right there on the table. Look at it momentarily every time you go up or down the floor. Know before you blow. If you know without straining your neck to look at the table you will look quite competent.

Do not close down on a loose ball scramble that may result in a held ball until you sound the whistle. If you close down before the whistle you may find yourself in the middle of the action when you least expect it. It is good to adjust your position to get a better look at the action, but do not close down until you have sounded the whistle.

When the ball is loose on the floor some officials seem to referee this play like a fumble in football. Don’t let a player dive on the back of a player who has beaten him/her to the ball. It is a foul if A1 dives on the back of B2. If all players involved in gaining possession of the loose ball are side by side or coming from different directions, then there can be some incidental contact. But, jumping on the back of an opponent who got there first and then bear hugging him/her in an attempt to tie the ball up is not legal. Often times we adjudicate these plays like they are wrestling matches and should award points for near falls.

Apply the two “tug” rule. When two players both have a hold of the ball, some officials call a “held ball” immediately and when the air hasn’t even finished coming out of the Fox yet, one player ends up with the ball. That makes the officials look incompetent. Yet other officials wait while the two players involved pull each other to the floor in a scenario that often looks like rough play. That makes the officials look incompetent. Two tugs” of the ball will usually assure you that both players have enough control of the ball that it would take “undue roughness” for one of them to get possession. Two tugs will do it.

A “held ball” ruling is a “win-win” scenario compared to a reach in “holding” foul. In the held ball situation the possession arrow takes the ball from one team and gives it to the other, not the officials. Go with a held ball if at all possible. Many experienced officials will only call a reach in foul in this situation if there is a good “rip” by the offense that clearly illustrates the hold.

Beware the “mini blarge.” A BLARGE is when one official calls a block and another rules a charge on the same play. Block-Charge = BLARGE. Very embarrassing for the officiating crew and by rule results in a double foul. A “mini blarge” is when one official rules a held ball and another official calls a foul. There is no way out of a “mini blarge” that is win-win like the double foul in a blarge. A few years ago in Colorado we had a girl’s championship game decided by a mini blarge. With 1.5 seconds left on the clock and the game tied there was a loose ball and two opponents gave up their life to gain possession. One official ruled a held ball while another closed in with a foul signal. The two officials were standing not three feet apart one giving the held ball signal and the other a strong foul signal. After a long conference they went with the foul. The free throws were converted and that team won. The crew probably should have gone with a held ball and hoped that the game would go to overtime.

If the ball becomes loose on the floor and is eventually tied up and you want to rule a held ball, sound your whistle, use your voice and close down on the players involved, but don’t immediately give a held ball signal. After a second or two look around and if there is no partner showing a foul signal, then give the held ball signal. If a partner does have a foul, then that is the only signal that was given and we don’t get into the mini blarge situation.

In the play before the hustling officials closes on the action before there is a held ball and before he sounds the whistle and just about gets run over and finds himself retreating for dear life and in no position to officiate.

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