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NFHS Basketball new rules and points of emphasis 2018-19.

NFHS Basketball new rules and points of emphasis 2018-19.

NFHS Basketball new rules and points of emphasis 2018-19.

When new points of emphasis are released we need to embrace what the NFHS is trying to accomplish. We also need to incorporate what’s appropriate into our game and improve our officiating along the way. when we’re looking at points of emphasis from the National Federation of high school it’s important to remember these points of emphasis are communication to all the stakeholders in the game: school administrators athletic department administrators coaches players officials officials associations etc. They are for all stakeholders. Some of them are focused on non-officials.


Here is our video (long) on new rules and Points of Emphasis 2018-19.

Play examples and breakdown start at about the 18:00 mark.

Concussion recognition and risk minimization

this year there’s a focus on concussion recognition and risk minimization. This is focused on coaches and ADs in handling, properly, the safety of their players. it’s not a reflection necessarily on officials. We have a responsibility to alert coaches when we feel it’s possible that a player has suffered a possible concussion. hitting their head hard on the floor. hitting their head on another player’s knee or elbow. etc. We need to alert the coaches so that their training can come into play if we a see any exhibition of concussion-like symptoms from any players on the court again we need to alert coaches if we have concussion-like symptoms. we are to direct the player to leave the game, passing the responsibility for properly handling the player’s safety from there. we need those coaches to properly handle the players. that’s a point of emphasis for coaches and administrators proper handling of their players with possible concussions.

Skin infections and communicable diseases

Obviously this belongs in the purview of administrators, athletic directors, coaches. the way their players handle their hygiene etc again it’s not a factor for us officials.

Point of emphasis (coaches) responsibility for proper uniform and apparel

Coaches are now responsible to know and enforce proper uniform and equipment. this is directed not at us as basketball officials. we already know the rules. we’re already handling them. this is an emphasis to shift responsibility for understanding proper uniform and equipment rules on to the coach and have them embrace their role in the process. let’s be clear the existing rule code adequately addresses the requirements but must be understood by coaches and players and properly applied by contest officials. We need to do our job consistently but coaches and players are responsible now for understanding those rules and restrictions on their uniform and equipment.

“It is the coach’s role to know the rules allowances and restrictions.” This POE shifts it onto them and not necessarily just on to us to be the Fashion Police. it is the officials role to monitor the players and the uniform. this would obviously begins in pregame warmups. we want to take care of as much as we can pre-game. warmup shirts come off and now there’s new evidence that we have to explore. substitutes are coming into the game — we need to evaluate prior to their entry into the game whether they are legal etc. we do that already.

Let’s understand that there are no new rules regarding uniforms and equipment. “if that isn’t possible then proper penalties must be levied whether it be against the player or the coach dependent upon the rule.” If it is an illegal uniform, and a uniform is clearly defined by rule, that’s a direct technical foul on the head coach. there is no penalty on anybody for illegal equipment. if a player is illegally equipped with mis-colored arm sleeve, mis-colored headband, improper t-shirt, wearing jewelry, etc, that player shall be directed to leave the game. They can repair their situation and then they are eligible to play. there is no penalty by rule that we can enforce on those players or that coach for equipment violations. 

New rules for 2018

congratulations! there are no new rules for 2018.

it’s important to keep that in mind what do we have: new ball regulations for 2019. deeply pebbled, channels etc. that take effect in 2019, so are there are no new regulations on the for 2018.

there is a clarification about an erroneous backcourt rules interpretation from 2007. we get documentation that looks like a new backcourt rule! there’s rules book language about backcourt plays. understand that it is specifically addressing one erroneous rules to interpretation from 2007 there are no new rules regarding backcourt violations. everything’s the same. Don’t get caught up and rethink and your understanding of backcourt.

We will cover this play specifically so we understand what this verbiage is about one single play. there are no new rules regarding backcourt violations.

Clarification about screeners needing to be in order to be legal must be established their screen on the court. if they have a foot on the line out-of-bounds they are by rule not in a legal screening position. This is a simple clarification. There are no new rules regarding screening.

POE for Officials: Traveling, Loose Ball Rough Play, Guarding/Verticality, & Professionalism

Points of emphasis for officials 2018. traveling is a point of emphasis. rough play during loose ball. understanding loose ball scenarios  and enforcing penalties for illegal contact. guarding principles and verticality. this is an essential part of what we do as basketball officials. we have to understand guarding principles and verticality. that’s step one in the whole process. NFHS says let’s review let’s get better. Finally, professionalism. the language that we use. the way that we communicate with all the stakeholders in the game.

POE: Traveling

The problem is there are too many inaccurate rulings. more emphasis is needed in finding the pivot foot. officials need to know understand fully the rules and restrictions about traveling. here’s the heart of the matter. “with the advent of popular moves such as the Euro step officials at times appear to call infractions that are not violations because they look funny but at the same time we miss violations that should be called they the player did travel” 

The accuracy of callis is the problem. Too often travelling is called when it’s legal and is not called when it’s illegal. After coming to a stop and establishing a pivot foot, a pivot foot may be lifted but not returned to the floor before the ball is released on the pass or try for goal. if the player jumps neither foot may be returned to the floor before the ball is released on a pass or try for goal. here’s a quick tidbit knowing the rules were better allow officials to administer the rules related to traveling. that is a true statement!

POE: Guarding and Verticality

Understanding what legal guarding position is absolutely essential and understanding the principle of verticality. This is the bread and butter of what we do as basketball officials: officiate whether a player is legal when they guard or not.

POE: rough play on loose balls

Concussions are a focus for NFHS they want to reduce injuries in the game of basketball. they want to reduce injuries by reducing rough play that leads to injuries. addressing rough play involves properly penalizing illegal contact in loose ball situations. that’s our point of emphasis. the committee feels that with these reminders excessive physical contact while recovering a loose ball can be properly administered and prevent situations from escalating into more egregious acts. The rules about recovery of the ball require constant review to ensure that acts are not deemed as violations that are in fact legal such as sliding with the ball. we’re concentrating on possession of the ball players being hindered or obstructed from a legal path to the ball. if a loose ball is possessed simultaneously by opponents blow the whistle immediately.  if a player is impeded by an opponent rule a foul immediately.

POE: Professionalism

We want to examine, individually, all of our interaction with game stakeholders. we arrive at a venue. the athletic director lets us into the coach’s room or our changing area. our interactions with that person professionalism at all times. game administration. we come out onto the floor. we identify our game administrator. we’re gonna ask them where they’ll be during the game so that we can come to them with any issues with the crowd. we don’t want to interact directly with the crowd or any issues around the court that can be handled by the game administrator. that’s their role. We’ll introduce ourselves to them. we’ll alert our partners to who they are where they’ll be etc.  our interactions with them are professional. table personnel are part of our crew. we need to be professional with them. there can be frustrations related to their competence sometimes but again we remain professional. we elevate the game.

With coaches, we just want to take the high road and be professional. we’re professional with our language.  an emphasis on rules book language with our communications, so that again, we can achieve a level of consistency as a group of officials. how we present information to the stakeholders in the game. we want to have a rules book emphasis on our language scoring the goal as opposed to counting the basket end line is that a baseline division line instead of midcourt line etc,  just basics.

Player equipment review.

Understand the different sets (classifications) of equipment. Undershirt. the player is wearing an undershirt. undershirt is an extension of the jersey. I’m wearing a red jersey I must wear a red undershirt. that’s the color restriction. red undershirt red jersey. I’m wearing a white jersey, undershirt must be white. black jersey, undershirt must be black. simple. predominant color of the Jersey, undershirt the same.

Headbands, Wristbands, Sleeves & Tights

This equipment is all in the same ‘package’ . National Federation of high school: all must be the same color. Consider all of this equipment to be in a ‘package’. everything in that package must be the same color. those colors may be: black, white or beige plus the predominant color of the jersey. very straightforward. we need to be consistent about this. headband wristband sleeves sleeves on the leg tights. that’s all part of the package. all has to be the same color for both the player and all the team members who participate in the game. everybody’s got to be the same color.


in addition we have braces. I’m wearing a knee brace a knee support brace if it’s a brace by rule there’s no color restriction. it’s not part of the package. Braces by rule — not part of the package; no color restriction.


what’s left headgear. I’m wearing one of those soft padded things on my head. I’m wearing some sort of protective thing. I’m wearing a religious headgear or cultural headgear. a turban or a head wrap of some sort. these are not part of the package. they do not have color restriction depending on your local regulatory body they have been approved not approved etc. but they are not part of the package!

what’s in the package? let’s review: headband, wrist band, arm sleeve, leg sleeve, tights. all part of the package. same color for each player same color for each team member who participates. simple. we need to be consistent on that.

The take away again for proper uniform and apparel: this is now the coach’s responsibility. they need to embrace that role. “the committee’s left to him couldn’t conclude that the existing rule code adequately addresses the requirements.” there are no rules changes.  “but must be understood by coaches and players and properly applied by contest officials.” now that we’re shifting the responsibility for understanding onto the coach, we need to as in our role help both coaches understand the rules and restrictions. Be accurate, but also by being very consistent. this crew comes in. next night there’s another crew. next night there’s another crew and they were all consistent in their interpretation of the rules about uniform and equipment.

Play Breakdown

Rules clarification: one solitary backcourt play.

The rules clarification for this year about backcourt involves involves one single play that was improperly interpreted by the committee in 2007 as being a violation we’re gonna look at that play this play is now by rule legal so the NFHS said you know what we have this interpretation it was wrong we’re gonna fix it by including an exception into the rule but recognize that the rules have not changed here’s our play this is a legal play in 2007 NFHS said this play is illegal and this is a backcourt violation on red let’s look at the play. When we look at backcourt plays let’s go through our process our checklist we have team control by red they are holding or dribbling the ball in the backcourt the ball is passed and contacted by a player with frontcourt status white this means the ball now has frontcourt status by rule again these are the basics the red player with backcourt status jumps and catches the ball in the air now giving it backward status in 2007 NFHS had an interpretation this play is now illegal we’re gonna rule that this player was both the last to touch in the frontcourt and the first to touch in the backcourt simultaneously by catching the ball it was convoluted logic and has been corrected. this play is now legal critical component to understand is even though there’s language being expressed by NFHS about back court rules and restrictions this is the only play that is being addressed this one play this play is legal there are no rules changes regarding backcourt violations don’t get hung up and thinking that there are.

Loose Ball Situations — Rough Play

ball is loose black player lands on top of the white player that’s a play we need to address. players are allowed to equally pursue the ball but if they’re with their body they are playing the other player and have rough play and sue that needs to be addressed that plays pretty subtle this one’s more obvious so loose ball team control white the white player plays the red player going after the red player with illegal contact that’s what we needs to be addressed. so in this situation we have white with team control this would be a treat team control foul on white.

Verticality plays — 5 example plays

Play 1

White 24 has a spot on the floor jumps straight up is actually yielding just a little bit contact occurs this is a legal play now white turned her body allowed by rule this is a legal play.

Play 2

the principle of verticality applies. legal. white defending watch the feet has a spot on the floor 34 goes up legal. white is strong. red runs into a brick wall watch the feet that’s his spot legal.

Play 3

straight up. yielding. the displacement is ruled as incidental legal.

Play 4

We’ve had three legal plays now we have a foul. what’s the difference? note the defensive player goes from a single spot on the floor from A to B causing contact. moving towards the opponent. illegal contact. foul.

Play 5

we’ve all seen this play. you got the illegal Chuck and then reflexively the hands up coach I was legal I was legal

Guarding: Block/Charge — 6 plays

Evaluating the legality of guarding is our bread-and-butter. when we look at block charge plays or guarding plays obviously the first thing we need to do is establish whether a player had legal guarding position. legal guarding position is clearly defined by rule as a player with two feet on the floor torso facing their opponent. so we’re gonna look at that they’ve obtained legal guarding position they can maintain legal guarding position by moving laterally obliquely or back legal.

An opponent’s defensive position must be established prior to the player going airborne. Our basic framework for a legal guarding position

Play 1

step number one in the process is the player legal does he have two feet on the floor torso facing the opponent yes. this player has legal guarding position. “But his feet are wide!” Are feet part of the definition of legal guarding position? No! torso contact on this play. a block is ruled upon reflection looks like a charge.

Play 2

Before we see this play let’s just remember NFHS wants to reduce injuries reduce concussions reduce rough play. let’s see if this play needs a whistle yes it needs a whistle we’re looking at the defender on this passing crash before the player goes airborne does he establish a legal position does he have two feet on the floor facing the opponent prior to the player going airborne yes torso contact should be a charge needs a whistle in any event.

Play 3

note state-championship 18 seconds into the first period excellent is the player legal two feet on the floor facing his opponent yes what is he allowed to do on a dribbler he can his his objective is to move his torso into the path of the player that’s his objective that’s the objective of guarding moving your torso does he legally move his torso watch his feet Laterally, obliquely or back that’s our judgment on a play like this.

Play 4

secondary defender block charge play so what we want to do is evaluate is she legal does she have two feet on the floor facing her opponent is she there prior to the player going airborne two feet on the floor facing her opponent player yet to go airborne yes torso contact yes charge yes

Play 5

secondary defender play two feet on the floor facing his opponent arge you two feet on the floor facing her opponent prior to airborne close all signs point to calling correct yeah close.

Play 6

that’s that’s simply the formula we’re looking for is the player legal is their torso contact the player is not there legally we have a block if the player is there legally and we have torso contact we have a charge that’s our process for evaluation.


we’re going to look at many different traveling plays here again point of emphasis is accuracy is a problem legal plays are being called illegal illegal plays are not having a whistle. when we look at these travelling plays first thing we’re gonna do always is establish the pivot foot. that’s our step one in our process as officials for evaluating legality.

Play 1

in this case left foot pivot foot clip pretty obvious that’s a legal move that’s what we want in our game.

Play 2

left foot pivot. what do we have here layered dribbles picks up the ball her left foot is her pivot foot correct we can agree on that this ball is in the leads primary the lead is officiating this primary matchup player lifts their left foot legal and returns it to the floor illegal violation ruled call correct.

Play 3

Similar play. left foot pivot. lifts the left foot releases the ball this is a play that “looks funny” but what we need to do is understand the rule on the play and not just react to “looks funny” we want to choose to rule accurately. here’s a sequence of plays this player alights off of one foot and lands simultaneously with two feet this is a legal play that’s going to be the basis for the next couple of plays

Play 4

jumps off one lands on two simultaneously that’s legal.

Play 5

jumps off one lands on two but what’s different jumps off the left foot legal land simultaneously with two legal everything’s good but then lifts a foot and puts it back down illegal.

Play 6

Right foot pivot jumps off one lands with two simultaneously a legal play jumps to shoot is fouled but a erroneous traveling violation is ruled.

Play 7

Euro step plays. holding the ball left foot pivot jumps off the right foot. legal play.

Play 8

a more skilled example. important to remember with Euro step plays that our brain potentially gets tricked.  the player changes speed dramatically. That’s the point of the move. When we perceive them really slow down, our brain says “oh wait a minute something funny has happened.” we have to fight through that and just judge the footwork on it’s merits.

Play 9

Let’s remember that in loose ball plays a player can slide with the ball. they can slide any distance. once they have stopped sliding there are restrictions: they can sit up but they cannot roll over nor may they attempt to stand. they can  pass, shoot, dribble, call timeout. all those things are available to them.

Play 10

similar play. a little more deceptive on this play as the player has twisted her body but that’s a legal play she has not rolled over she basically just reached behind her collected the ball and brought it in front of her.

Play 11

simple can’t jump lift your pivot foot and then initiate a dribble one of the basics.

Play 12

a player holding the ball is not allowed to stand or attempt to get up. this player does. The official doesn’t react! one of the other important parts of the point of emphasis is recognizing how our position affects our ability to make proper rulings. in this case the official is too close to the play. We call this “looking in the well.” when you are looking down towards your feet it’s difficult to have accurate rulings.

Play 13

A look funny play let’s establish the pivot foot jumps off.

Play 14

A look funny play let’s establish the pivot foot holding the ball left foot pivot right foot slides legal puts a hand down legal we can put our we can that’s the one thing we can put on the floor legally.

Play 15

holding the ball legal play similar right foot pivot elbow touches the floor illegal again close proximity by the official may be a factor in terms of judging the play from here it’s obvious.

Play 16

post play let’s look for pivot looks like we have a right foot pivot legal little hop holds the ball hand under the ball returns the pivot foot to the floor that’s traveling before the foul.


New rules for 2018 the great news is there are no new rules for 2018. there’s simply two clarifications one about an erroneous back court call. there is no change in backcourt rules. Also,screeners must be on the court to be legal a simple clarification. coaches now have a point of emphasis that they are responsible for knowing the rules and regulations regarding uniforms and equipment. we’re gonna help them but they need to embrace that rule.

For officials we have four areas of concern.  The first is traveling. the second is illegal contact during loose ball situations potential rough play being eliminated. Also reviewing of guarding principles and verticality absolutely an essential of what we do as basketball officials. Finally, looking to examine our level of professionalism and upgrade it in any area that we can. Especially in our communication with stakeholders: school administrators, athletic directors, site administrators, coaches, table personnel, partners. having a more professional level of language that we use. We simply want to improve.

That completes our look at 2018 look at points of emphasis for NFHS basketball in 2018. looking at the points of emphasis understanding them incorporating them into our game as basketball officials. Have a great season.


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