Today, the great challenge of basketball officiating falls somewhere between the two statements below.  The first statement comes from the 2013 points of emphasis and concerns illegal contact.


. Guidelines to Enforce Illegal Contact. “When contact occurs that affects the rhythm, speed, quickness and balance of the player, illegal contact has occurred. When illegal contact occurs, fouls must be called. Officials must not refrain from calling these type of actions that create an advantage for the opponent. Illegal contact must be called regardless of time and score.”

This statement may be looked at as a “landmark” inclusion of officiating philosophy into the rules.  While the rule book has never been big on officiating philosophy, and in fact some folks claim there is no place for philosophy in basketball officiating, the 2013 points of emphasis includes guidelines or “buzz words” or as Dave Hall likes to call them “processing points. Dave Hall has been teaching RSBQA at his summer officiating camps since 2004. It has just taken the NFHS ten years to catch up.

These “processing points” rhythm, speed, balance and quickness are nothing more than philosophical guidelines to help officials enforce illegal contact more effectively.  Dave Hall adds an A for agility as well.

These illegal contact situations may be caused from illegal use of the hands, forearms, belly, knees, elbows, butts or any other parts of the body.  The illegal contact may be by either the defense or the offense.  All of this contact falls under the umbrella of Freedom of Movement.

Then in Rule 4 Article 27 we find the definition of “incidental contact.”

It states:

“Contact which does not hinder the opponent from ­participating in normal defensive or offensive movements should be considered ­incidental.”

So, if the contact does not affect the opponent’s rhythm or balance, does not slow him/her down nor negate their quickness and their agility is still to the level that they can complete their movement, the contact should be called, by rule, “incidental.”

When contact occurs in a basketball games the officials are charged with ruling it as either “incidental” or illegal.  That is your great challenge.  That is the bottom line.

If the contact is illegal, you fill up your whistle.  If the contact is incidental, you do nothing.  It is “play on.”

You are either a bad, mediocre or good play caller.  If you are bad, you rule incidental contact a foul, or you rule illegal contact as being incidental.

If you are a mediocre or average play caller you get most of these plays right, most of the time.

If you are a great play caller or “thin slicer” you get even the most difficult plays correct a huge percentage of the time.

And now the rule book or at least the 2013 points of emphasis has given you some philosophical guidelines or “processing points” to help you become a great play caller.  Think about them, talk about them and use them and they will be of great aide in your officiating quest to be a great play caller.





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