The trail is the official on the ball. The trail should be covering the ball handler a huge percentage of the time. Therefore it is the trail who gets straight lined the most. The ball moves so quickly sometimes that an official can be straight lined momentarily at the blink of an eye. It happens and often cannot be avoided.

If the trail official is looking at numbers and butts of a stationary ball handler, he/she is probably in trouble. This is a closed or invalid look. Move to improve that look.

If you find yourself straight lined behind stationary players simply move one direction or the other, whichever makes the most sense and get a better look. Basketball officials as a whole, in my view, find ourselves straight lined on three point shots way too often. It then becomes difficult to rule on the three point line and whether or not the on charging defender got “all ball” or fouled the shooter.

The open look, the valid look is the look that is between two competitors. If the two opponents are standing still it is pretty easy to adjust your look to get the “see through” angle that is desired.

It is when the opponents are moving that it often becomes a challenge to gain and maintain the open look. Dave Hall teaches the “two step rule.” When a contested ball handler dribbles by your nose going from your left to your right, the “two step rule” simply tells you to move a step or two to the left or opposite the direction the ball handler is going to obtain and maintain an open look.

If the ball handler goes by you from the right to your left simply take a step or two opposite the direction the ball is going, in this case, step to the right and you get the open look.

If the ball goes by you and you move in the same direction as the ball you will continue to straight line yourself. Go opposite.

The two step rule works well for the lead official on the baseline as well. When the ball is in the deep corner and the ball handler drives the baseline and goes past your nose you, simply step in the opposite direction a step or two and you can get a pretty good open look. Plus you can see if a secondary defender supplies “help” defense on the ball handler.

In the video clip below, the trail official recognizes that he is about to be straight lined and makes a quick position adjustment using the “two step” rule and gains and maintains the open look. Really good work.

ray lutz

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