The High School Basketball Official's Pre-Game

Long Version Pre-Game From Officials Forum

This long version pregame was created with the input of many Official Forum members. I don't use the entire list. I pick and choose from the list depending on my partner's experience, the level of the game, early season versus late season, how often I work with a partner, etc. As long as this is, it's still shorter than the pregame card that we are given by IAABO every season. -- BillyMac, 11/02/06

I'm the one who originally posted the bulk of that pre-game. I don't say that as a poke at Bill. I say it only b/c it gives me the chance to say that I stole it lock, stock and barrel from Artie McDonald, a great official, who passed away suddenly from a heart attack last week. -- ChuckElias, 11/02/06


Court Coverage

Trail's Primary Responsibilities (2 person):
Sideline And Division Line
Last Second Shot
Drives Starting In Primary
Bring Subs In
Weak Side Rebound Coverage
Lead's Primary Responsibilities (2 person):
Endline And Sideline
Post Play
Illegal Screens At Elbows

Stay In Your Primary, It Must Be Obvious To Come Out Of Your Primary

Coaches And Captains

Players properly equipped.
Players wear uniforms properly.
Practice good sportsmanship.

Double Whistles

Let's both hold our preliminary signal and not give a block or player control signal.
Make eye contact with each other.
Give the call to whoever has the primary coverage, unless you definitely have something different that happened first.
Opposite signals: Assess both fouls. Count the basket if the ball was released before the contact. Resume with the Point of Interruption.

Pass And Crash

Let's have the Lead official follow the pass, stay with the ball.
The Trail will be responsible for the crash.

Out-Of-Bounds Help

If I have no idea and I look to you for help, just give a directional signal. No need to come to me. Just point.
If I signal but I get it wrong, then blow the whistle and come to me. Tell me what you saw and let me decide if I'm going to change it.

Press Coverage

Help each other. New Lead will wait at mid-court.

Technical Fouls

If I T a coach, get me away from the coach. The situation is heated and I don't want to whack the coach back-to-back. Let's move away from the benches. Non calling official should inform the coach that the coaching box privilege has been lost.
Let's get together and make sure we administer the penalty or penalties correctly and in the correct order and at the correct basket.
If one official issues a warning to somebody (player or coach), make sure the other official knows. If I've already warned the coach, the coach shouldn't get a free shot at you.

Two-Point / Three-Point Shot

If one official incorrectly signals the number of points, the other official will simply blow the whistle immediately, discuss the play with our partner, come to a decision, signal the correct number of points to the table, and resume the game. We will only correct if we are 100% sure.

Goaltending And Basket Interference

99% of the time, the Trail will be responsible for the call.
Lead can help out on a quick shot in transition, when Trail hasn't made it into the frontcourt yet.
Let's remember that it's never basket interference or goaltending to slap the backboard. Coaches and fans always want it, but we can't award the points.

Last Shot

99% of the time, the Trail will be responsible for the call.
Let's both have an opinion, in case Trail's not sure.
How will we handle a full-court pass when the Trail is stuck in the backcourt?

Foul Mechanics

Preliminary signal given at spot of foul for all common fouls.
Calling official must designate throwin spot or number of shots.
Non-calling official, get the shooter. If the ball enters the basket, inform partner that ball went in.

Throw Ins

Ten players, eye contact, check table, check clock.

Timeout Mechanics

When the ball is dead, we must be alive.
Team calling timeout must have player dribbling or holding the ball.
Both officials must know the game situation when play resumes following a timeout (team, direction, spot or run baseline, shooter, number of shots).
One official at spot of throwin or free throw line with ball facing direction in which it will be put into play.
Other official at division line, quarter for 30 second and three quarters for 60 second.

Post Play

Let's not allow a defender to use a leg or knee to move a player off the block.
Let's make sure the offensive player isn't holding off the defender, or holding him with his off-hand.
As Lead, let's find the post match-up as soon as possible so that we get the first foul.
Remember the RIDD's. Don't let players: Redirect, Impede, Displace, or Dislodge.

Ball-Handler / Hand-Checking

Two hands on the ball-handler is a foul. Automatic.
One hand that stays on the dribbler is a foul.
Let's not let a defender ride the dribbler as the ball is coming from backcourt to frontcourt.
Remember SBQ. If the dribbler's Speed, Balance, or Quickness are affected, we should have a hand-checking, push or block foul.


We must work hard off the ball.
In the first half especially, let's clean up the screening action. The screening action will be right in front of the defensive coach in the first half, so if the coach sees an illegal screen, we should too.
In the second half, with the defensive coach 60 feet away, let's be aware of the screening, but we don't need to focus quite as hard on it. If there's an obvious call to be made, let's absolutely make it; but we won't make it our point of emphasis in the second half.


Let's see if we can call the same game. Be consistent with each other.
Let's try to remember what we've called earlier in the game, and what we haven't called. Be consistent with what has already happened in the game.
If I have a very close block/charge play and I call a blocking foul, then the next time you have a similar block/charge play, you should have a blocking foul.

Game Situation Awareness

One of us should quickly check the clock after every whistle to make sure the clock stops properly.
One of us should check the clock every time it should start to make sure it does so.
Let's try to be aware of the foul count during the game. We don't want to be surprised when it's time to shoot the bonus. If we know that the next foul will result in bonus free throws, we'll be more likely to remember our shooter.

Last Two Minutes

We're not calling anything in the last two minutes if we haven't already called it earlier in the game, unless it's so blatant that it can't be ignored. We don't want our first illegal screen to be called with 30 seconds left in the game; but if the illegal screen puts a player into the first row of the bleachers, then we have to call it.
Let's not put the whistles away in the last two minutes: That wouldn't be consistent with the way we've been calling the game. If the game dictates it, let the players win or lose the game at the line. We don't want to be the ones who decide the game by ignoring obvious fouls just to get the game over.
End of game strategic fouls: If the winning team is just holding the ball and is willing to take the free throws,then let's call the foul immediately, so the ball handler doesn't get hit harder to draw a whistle. Let's make sure there is a play on the ball by the defense. If there's no play on the ball, if the defense grabs the jersey from behind, or if the ball handler receives a bear hug, we should consider an intentional foul. These are not basketball plays and should be penalized as intentional.

2006-07 Rule Changes:

Changed the guidelines for headbands and sweatbands.
Added that a school logo/mascot is also permitted on the pants, compression shorts, sweatbands and headbands.
The exact time observed by the official may be placed on the clock when a timer's mistake has occurred.
A fourth delay situation was added for water on the court following any time-out.
Changed the procedure for delay warnings to only one warning for any of four delay situations (previously three).
Established a new signal for a team-control foul. The arm is extended and the fist is punched.
Clarified that a player who has any amount of blood on his/her uniform shall be directed to leave the game until the situation is corrected.
Clarified that a closely guarded count is terminated when an offensive player in control of the ball gets his/her head and shoulders past a defensive player.
Clarified that an unsporting foul can be a non-contact technical foul which involves behavior not in accordance with the spirit of fair play.
Clarified that a player is one of five team members who are legally in the game at any given time except intermission and that during an intermission, all team members are bench personnel.
Clarified that during a 30-second time-out, no on-court entertainment should occur.

2006-07 Points Of Emphasis:

Intentional Fouls
Rule Enforcement/Proper Signal Use