There are three different positions that an officials will be in during the course of a
basketball game, they are Lead, Trail and Center.
As officials you need to be able to communicate in order to ensure that game is played at its
The lead position is on the baseline or underneath the basket. The primary responsibility for
the lead official is calling fouls in the paint. He is also responsible for all baseline calls. The
lead is the only official who effects the positions of the other two officials, because he has the
ability to go on either side of the basket in order to get a better look at the play. For example,
if the lead official is on the right side of the basket, then the official on the ride side would be
the Trail official, while the official on the left side would the Center official. It is also the
lead officials job to administer the free throw. Lead becomes trail once possession ends.
The trail officials is the officials closest to the half court line. The primary focus is on
touch fouls, traveling violation and over the back fouls off a rebound. He also is the official
responsible for signaling a 3-point shot. The trail official is also in charge of calling the
10-second violation, if the ball hasn't made it to the front court by the ten second mark.
The last position is the Center position and it is the favored positon of both Aaron Hobson and
Zachary Watson. "A strong center is a strong crew," Hobson, the coordinator for competitive sports
at the University of Florida. The Center position has to cover more court with his eyes than any
other position. Primarily responsible for off-ball fouls, traveling violations and over the back
fouls. Also, responsible for watching the clock near the end of games and must also signal when a
3-point shot is in the air.
Lead, Trail and Center are the three positions and you will rotate between those positions
frequently during games. Trail and Center follow the Lead officials positions to signify what
position they are in.
Reporting a Foul
What follows is a step-by-step guide to reporting a foul to the scorekeeper.
Blow the whistle and signal a foul then head to scorer's table.
Tell the the scorekeeper the color of the offending team.
Say the number of the player and show the number with your hands.
Say the foul that occurred on the player and show it using the correct hand signal.
Tell the scorekeeper once going to happen next. Basically is it two shots, one shot, on the
baseline or the sideline.
Remember to have clean and crisp mechanics when reporting fouls. Also show confidence and be
loud about the call. If you look undecided on calls, the players will know and not respect the calls
you make during a game.
There are several things a basketball official must do to control the game.
Basketball officials have control of the clock during dead ball situations. A dead ball
situation is any out of bounds situation that occurs other than a made basket. So a ball that goes
out of bounds, after a time out, or a foul are all examples of a dead ball situation. A dead ball
typically kills the clock. During a dead ball the official will give the ball to the player
inbounding it, the official will then hold his hand up almost like he was telling someone to stop.
Then once the ball is touched by another player the official will chop the clock and it will start
The only time an official will signal a shot attempt other than a foul show is when a player
attempts a 3-point show. If an official is at Trial or Lead and sees a player attempt a 3-point
shot, he will then put one hand in the air similar to signal a field goal in football. Then if the
shot is good the official will then raise his other hand up to signal the shot was good.
The only other time an official might signal a shot attempt, is if it was close 2-point shot.
Perhaps a players toe was on the line or something, then you would signal that it was a 2-pointer
not a three.
The last game management tool is the jump ball. To signal a jump ball you just put both thumbs
straight up into the air. In order for a play to be considered a jump ball, both players must have
simultaneous possession of the ball. In college, high school and intramurals at UF possession of the
jump ball goes to the team with possession arrow, once a jump ball is called, the scorekeeper will
switch the possession arrow the oppositie direction. In the NBA, a jump ball will result in both of
the possessors having to jump it up just like when they start the game.