Having officiated more than 5,000 basketball games at all levels from elementary school to Division III college games, I find there are still important rules that coaches, players and fans do not know and cause them to get upset.
They yell out what they think is the so-called rule.
The first one is the three-second rule.
When an offensive player or players continually get offensive rebounds and shoot putbacks while staying in the three-second free throw lane area, some want a three-second call, but the rule states that the three-second count is off every time a shot is taken.
Some also think three seconds shouldn't be called when a dribbler in the frontcourt fumbles the ball and it is rolling or bouncing on the floor and the official calls a three-second violation because an offensive player is in the lane for three seconds or more. The call is correct because when a team either has team or player control, then the three-second rule is in effect. Team control is when the ball is being held or dribbled by a player, or the ball is being passed to teammates in the frontcourt.
The call that attracts the most attention during games is the block/charge call. The player with the ball is responsible for any forward contact with the defensive player who has established LGP (Legal Guarding Position), which is having both feet on the ground and facing the offensive player. After establishing LGP the defender may move sideways and backwards and any contact is on the offensive player with the ball, which is a player-control foul. When the offensive player gets his/her head and shoulders by the defender, then it is a defensive block.
Once the shooter with the ball is airborne and the defender has established LGP, the defender may not move sideways, this is a block, but the defender may turn their back for protection and it is still a player-control foul. A player is no longer an airborne shooter once one foot touches the floor and then the player-control foul would be called. If the player does not have the ball, then it would be a team control foul, which is called a charge.
When an offensive player with the ball runs over a defensive player near the sideline and the defender has one foot on the out-of-bounds line, the official will call a block. The defensive team’s crowd will then get upset, but it is a block because the defender cannot be in their LGP with a foot touching the out-of-bounds line.
Other calls that some may question:
— A player is called for a violation if he punches the ball with with a closed fist.
— Team A shoots the ball, it bounces (off the rim or backboard) back toward midcourt, a player from team A touches the ball and the ball goes into backcourt. The player from team A gets the ball and many yell for the backcourt call, but it is not a violation because once an offensive player shoots the ball there is no longer offensive team control.
A coach should know the rules and make sure the players know these rules, then they wouldn't get upset during games. For fans, officials are only half right most of the time we blow the whistle — that comes with the territory.
When I was coaching, even though I was an official, I always brought in an official at the beginning of each season to go over new rules and to reinforce what I had told my players about the rules of the game.
Bob Cimbollek is a retired high school basketball coach and is a basketball official.