Timely rotations are at the core of our front court officiating strategy. “Timely” means that the crew does not want to rotate too early and certainly doesn’t want to rotate too late. We all know that we rotate to put our officiating crew in the best possible position to officiate the play at hand. This concept depends on the rotation being on time, not getting to the station after the train has already departed, and not being there too early only to eventually find that the train never comes.
The key to a timely rotation is to get “closed down” when the ball location no longer dominates the strong side coverage. Lead officials want a wider look when the ball is on the strong side, especially when the ball is located where it can be entered to the post or passed or dribbled to the strong side deep corner.
However, when the ball is located up on top or has crossed the basket line the lead must get closed down to be in a position to initiate a timely rotation. The lead wants to be ball side before the ball is entered to the post if at all possible, and this depends on being at the “launching pad” at the appropriate time.
During a film review, I often see lead officials who have the appropriate wide position when the ball is strong side stay in that position when the ball leaves the strong side to the top of the key or even to the weak side. These officials then have way too far to rotate and as a result, they are late getting to the train station.
Similarly, I often see lead officials who continue to go ball side initiating a rotation when the ball changes location or status during the rotation. I urge you to not complete the rotation if a shot goes up. Simply abort the rotation and back out.
Don’t complete a rotation if during the process the ball changes location by going back to the point or by being “skipped” back across the court. Simply back out of the rotation. To continue the rotation in these situations puts your crew in a worse position to officiate than a better position.
Here are a couple of other situations that call for backing out or suspending the rotation rather than completing it. It seems uncanny to me how many turnovers that occur right smack dab in the middle of a rotation by the lead. If this happens to you as the lead, quickly back out of the rotation and let the old trail become the new lead rather than making the old center kill him/herself trying to beat the ball down the floor. Talk about the possibility of this situation happening and how you are going to handle it in your pregame.
Finally, if there is a drive to the hole from the “C” side and the lead has started a rotation it may be best to suspend that rotation and find the secondary defender that will inevitably appear to help the primary defender. In this situation, the lead may not want to back out of the rotation but to stop in the “pinched” position and be ready to help rule on any contact that should occur.