In this day and age of basketball officiating it is no longer enough just to get the play right. Officials must now make believers out of coaches, players and the fan base in attendance.

Getting all involved to “believe your act” is an ongoing game and season-long process. If officials want those watching the game to believe in them, to have confidence in them and to “buy their act” they have to do the things well that will lead to that outcome. Fortunately, the are not hard to accomplish and don’t take a lot of skill to implement them.

First, be decisive. That means a good strong timely whistle, not too quick and not too late,

Follow this whistle with a good strong foul signal and hold that signal for two or three seconds at least.

Stand still holding the foul signal if the action you are sounding the whistle for is close to you. Close down holding the foul signal about a third of the way if the action is farther away from you or is going away from you when you sounded the whistle.

Closing down doesn’t necessarily mean running down to the play. It is usually walking three or four steps toward the location of the foul. If the action is in transition and quickly going away from you then you may need to run toward the foul while holding the foul signal.

Once you have sounded a decisive whistle, displayed and held a strong foul signal, use your voice and “do the paperwork.” The paperwork is how play will be resumed. Every time we sound the whistle we need to follow it with our voice which will include who fouled, who shoots or who is putting the ball in play by a throw-in where.

“25 that is yours. Blue ball baseline.” That is paperwork. That is managing the game. That will make coaches, players and fans have confidence in you over a period of time and they will believe your act and come to realize you are managing the game and you are the lead official.

This standing still and/or closing down makes you appear connected to the play. It gives people watching the game time to find the whistle and subconsciously make a judgment about how well you saw the play. If every time you sound the whistle their subconscious self, tells them that you were connected to the play, over a period of time they will become believers.

Compare standing still or closing down toward the action to the official who as he/she sounds the whistle is off and walking toward the scorer’s table looking back over his/her shoulder trying to find a number of the player who fouled. They never do any paperwork and often all involved must wait until they report to find out how play is to be resumed Their subconscious vibrations will not translate to being connected to the play

So, in summary:

Decisive whistle

Close appropriately holding the foul signal.

Use your voice doing the paperwork—who fouled and who shoots or if there are no shots awarded who throws the ball in where

Good reporting mechanics to the table

In the video below the lead probably gets the call right but is off and running with the whistle, shoddy foul signal, looking over his shoulder trying to get a number, no paperwork and all in all not making us feel confident in his decision.

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