I think more coaches than you imagine know the rules but test referees every chance they get. Sometimes they are looking to validate a call made in their last game. Games have a home team, a guest team and a referee team. The home and guest teams are looking to win and the referee team is looking to officiate the contest. Just as the table crew becomes part of the referee team for the day and can be responsible for some incredible foul ups, the coaching staff is a key part of the home/guest team and can be the determining factor in winning or losing.
Telling a player s/he made a “good play” when the referee called a foul or violation is only inviting that call to be made again. This can lead to poor play and foul trouble. While referees strive for consistency, claiming that the same play happened on both ends of the court is rarely the case if there wasn’t a whistle at both ends.
Impressions are important. Just as a referee will carefully watch a player who is overly aggressive, referees are more likely to disregard comments made by coaches who impugn their authority. This isn’t a chapter and section look at the rules. It is a referee’s interpretation of application. In other words, “I saw it. I just didn’t see it your way”.
Contact: It happens and the rule book allows that it may be violent without a foul being committed. Every coach wants a foul and the rules have changed to allow less contact on ball handlers but if the referee didn’t blow the whistle on the play s/he didn’t feel there was a foul committed. Screaming, “that’s a foul”, isn’t going to get you the call and since it is a clear attempt to influence the referee’s decision, under the right circumstances, it could get you a technical foul.
Technical Fouls Referees absorb some criticism but too many coaches are over the top or comments become personal. There is light years between “I think you missed that call” and “You need glasses.” Antics you’ve seen coaches get away with may not work for you. Don’t assume the crew is going to take abuse or inappropriate behavior.
Traveling violation Timing is everything here. If the ball handler has begun the dribble before he picks up his pivot, it is a legal play. The first thing a referee learns is to identify the pivot foot. Ok, ok, referees need to get better at this one. I make no excuses here, but every time a coach yells “that’s a travel”, isn’t close to what referees might miss.
Palming violation A high dribble is not palming. The ball must come to rest on the ball handler’s palm for a violation to occur.
Illegal Dribble violation: A ball handler that losses or bobbles the ball may pick it up to retrieve it but the dribble has ended and s/he cannot begin a dribble.
Three Second violation. There is no possession when there is a legal shot attempt therefore no three second count as long as the ball is in the air or batted around after a rebound. Yelling three seconds isn’t going to start a count. Also, when a shot is imminent, the referee may hold his/her whistle to allow the shot attempt. This is especially true for the trail when the play is not in his/her area. FYI: The Three Second count begins when the ball is touched in front court.
Closely Guarded violation Coaches, I am on your side here. Referees often don’t start the closely guarded count soon enough. On the other hand, standing within 6 feet but making no attempt to get, play the ball or stop the ball handler’s progress isn’t much defense. Referees: I was taught to take a position where the ball handler can see you when you begin a count. It speeds up the action.
Out of Bounds violation. Terry Gilbert, teaches the Pro-Am class, called this one of the toughest calls in basketball. You have two players reaching and scrambling for the ball and the referee is often at a difficult angle because of the sideline and position of the players. Good referees consistently get this call right because they anticipate and get to the better angles.
Backcourt violation: Position and possession. Two feet and the ball in front court gives it front court status and an offensive player may not be the first to touch it in backcourt after front court status unless it was touched by a defender.
Illegal Screen: Offensive players have to give a defender that can see them one step to change direction and two steps if they are behind the defender. Under no circumstances can they move into the defender after they have established those distances.
Block/Charge: Ball handlers do not have the right to blast through two closely spaced defenders nor do defenders have the right to extend hands, arms, hips or feet to impede the ball handler or cutting player.
Over the Back: There is no such thing in HS basketball. A push is a push and a foul. Reaching over someone to get the ball is not a foul, however should that reach create contact as the player reaches or jumps up for a rebound, then a foul has been committed.
This covers the major coach incendiaries. If you have comments, complaints or clarifications, please send them along, Thanks.