BUILDING BETTER BASKETBALL
How to be in the Right Position to Make the Correct Call:
This referees series has been written by Bill Mildenhall, Manager, National Referees Development of Basketball Australia. Bill has been a leading referee in the NBL for the past 16 years, and has been awarded the NBL Referee of the Year 14 times
Position, Position, Position:
You may have associated these words when considering buying or selling real estate. In fact these words have equal significance for a Basketball Official. To get the best possible result you need to be in the best possible position. The mechanics of officiating is a system intended to help obtain the best possible position, enabling decisions concerning infractions of the rules to be made correctly.
Ninety percent of the perceived referee errors occur because of poor position. How can we achieve the best position to observe the play?
Incorporated in the Basketball Australia publication of the Official Basketball Rules is a specific section titled “Referee Manual.”. The manual aims to provide an insight into modern mechanics and officiating techniques, in an endeavour to obtain uniformity and consistency. Referee Mechanics are the technical aspects of officiating, the basic fundamentals that referees need to learn and develop. One major aspect of officiating mechanics is court coverage or positioning.
Contrary to a number of beliefs there are no magic spots a referee must get to on a court. However, there are some basic principles that one can follow, that have been proven to be the most beneficial over the years. These positions for two person officiating are diagrammatically explained in the manual. The correct positioning of the two officials while the game is in motion, is a vital element in the ability of the referees to make the foul and violation judgement decisions. Positioning to gain the best vantage point to see the game is undoubtedly the most important of all the mechanics for a referee to learn.
In theory, the referees are expected to be in the best possible positions to allow the game to progress naturally and to take the necessary action in judging the various infractions and violations of the rules when they occur. Under the two person system, close cooperation between officials is vital to provide the best possible coverage of the play. The mechanics of coverage help both officials to know where their primary vision areas of responsibility are while at the same time giving them assurance as to where their partner will be looking. This dividing of play into areas of responsibility is not to be taken as a rigid guideline as to which referee is allowed to make calls where; for both referees have the duty and the right to make decisions anywhere on the court when they think it is necessary. Rather the areas of responsibility are to assure that all aspects of play are being watched and policed. Spectators tend to watch the ball, good officials have to see both the movement of the ball and the actions of other players.
Helpful Hints to Get the Right Position:
• Basketball officiating is always about angles.
• Officials should be striving to get a good angle on the play. Once this good angle is achieved, stop and take a look at the action, don’t leave it.
• When the players move, the referee must move as now the good angle has gone.
• Moving, does not necessarily mean running. Moving is stepping rapidly, moving one step to the right or to the left, finding the angle.
• Do not confuse moving, as just moving the head or shoulders. This will promote leaning, which is not an acceptable way to make judgements.
• It is essential that both officials stay on their toes and keep moving constantly to avoid getting straight lined (ie. viewing angles blocked by bodies of players, being in a straight linewith the players)
• The aim is to look for the gaps, look between the players.
• Move with authority, but move under control and with your eyes on your primary area of responsibility. eg. if moving along the baseline in the lead position, keep your head andshoulders turned towards the players in the key, as they are in your primary area.
• Hustle to get on top of things and to reach the right place at the right time.
• Try to be stationery when making a decision, as often judgements can be distorted when an official is still moving.
• Try to observe the whole play from the beginning to the end by getting the correct position right from the start.
• To be in the best spot to make correct calls referees need to identify what teams are trying to do and how they are trying to play.
Look for specific keys that may require adjustments to your court positioning.