Basketball is truly “everyone’s game” and there are many different ways that you can get involved from being a “fan” of the sport to actively participating as a player, coach or technical official.
The role of the technical officials is to ensure the game is played in a fair and safe manner and within the rules. Refereeing is the most physical active as they are on-court and “call” the game. Other technical officials perform various roles on the scoretable and statistics and further information about each role is given below.
Basketball is an international game with 214 countries playing the game. This means that for those technical officials with the interest and expertise there is a pathway to national and international representation!
Most sports have a referee or umpire whose role is to ensure that the game is played according to the rules. The role of the basketball referee is exactly this - to ensure the game is played safely and fairly.
The referee enforces the rules of the game and in a game will make hundreds of decisions – determining when a violation or foul occurs and then stopping the game to issue the correct penalty. Often the decision is “no call” because there was no violation or foul, but the referee must constantly watch the play.
Unlike players (who are likely to be substituted for rests during the game) the referees (there are two on the majority of games and three on higher-level games) are on-court the whole game and work together to do the best job the game. It’s not easy but it can be incredibly rewarding!
ROLES OF THE REFEREE
Before the start of the game, the referees check that the game is ready to go. This includes checking that:
- both teams have completed the score-sheet and players are in the correct uniform;
- all equipment is ready (in some junior the height of the ring or size of the ball may need to be changed);
- scorers (and if applicable statisticians) are present and ready.
Accordingly, referees are encouraged to get to the game at least 10 minutes before it is due to start.
During the game, the referee ensures that it is played according to the rules. This includes stopping play for time-outs or substitutions when requested by a coach. Often local competitions will vary timing rules etc (to best fit all the games that have to be played) and the referees need to check what specific rules are used.
At the conclusion of all games, the referee checks the scoresheet and sign-offs that the game was completed. In many associations, a paper scoresheet is no longer used and instead a tablet or computer is used for keeping score. However, it is done, the referee is responsible to check at the end of the game that the score has been recorded correctly.
There are lots of reasons why people get involved in refereeing. Some of the common reasons are:
- participate in the sport and being part of the community;
- improve their knowledge and understanding of the rules of basketball;
- making friends;
- earning “pocket money”, saving for a holiday etc
- keep fit;
- have fun!
Some referees are interested only in helping at their local association whilst others may aspire to state, national or international competition! The pathway exists so that everyone can participate to the level of their skill and interest.
Imagine watching your favourite basketball team play a game with no timer, no scoreboard or no stat sheet. You wouldn’t know if they were winning, how much time was left to play nor how many points your favourite player scored!
In basketball, it is the scoretable officials that keep the score and time. In local competitions, it may be done by parents, or even the teams themselves. However, in higher grades, specialised scoretable officials will perform the roles.
ROLES OF THE SCORETABLE OFFICIAL
In higher level games, there are 5 specific scoretable positions:
- Assistant Scorer
- 24-second shot clock operator
Scoretable officials work as a team with the referees to maintain the scoring and timekeeping of the game.
The basic duties of each scoretable position are:
- Chairperson: Ensure the smooth operation on the scoretable and communicates with the referees.
- Scorer: Completes the scoresheet.
- Assistant Scorer: This position is not always required but when present will assist with operating the scoreboard.
- Timekeeper: Operate the game clock and in most situations also operate the scoreboard.
- 24-second shot clock operator: Operate the shot clock by stopping and resetting according to the rules.
In high-level basketball teams have a maximum of 24 seconds to attempt a shot once they obtain possession of the ball. If they miss a shot but are able to rebound (catch) the ball they are given another 14 seconds to attempt a shot. This 24 or 14-second count is displayed on a separate display to the scoreboard, which is operated by the “shot clock” operator. In most games at a community level, a shot clock is not used.
WHY BECOME A SCORETABLE OFFICIAL?
Just like referees, there are many reasons why people might become a scoretable official. Most scoretable officials are fans of the game who enjoy being involved at the local level. They become scoretable officials to support basketball and the teams love.
Being a scoretable official does not require the same level of fitness and mobility that is needed to be a referee so scoretable can be a great way to stay connected to the game.
The scoretable officials keep track of two main statistics:
- the score;
- the fouls that have been called
However, there are many other aspects of the game that can be recorded, and which add great interest an excitement for the fans and also for the players. These additional statistics also help coaches to review the performance of their teams. Common statistics are:
- the number of shots taken and from where they were taken
- rebounds (when a player catches the ball after a missed shot)
- assists (when a player passes the ball to a teammate who scores)
- steals (when a player gains possession from an opponent)
- turnovers (when a player loses possession of the ball)
The role of the statistician is to record all aspects of the game, which is now usually done on a computer, tablet or smartphone or manually with a paper template.
Full statistics are not taken in most local competitions but they are in more elite competitions.
The effective recording of statistics usually requires at least two people. One to “call” the game by commentating every event which requires statistical recording and the other to “record” the game by making the statistical entries and following the caller’s instructions.
When statistics are collected using a computer it means that fans can follow the game even if they are not able to attend.
A statistician does not have to have played basketball and training will explain the various statistics that are kept. Then, it is a matter of watching games and getting to understand what an “assist” or a “turnover” etc. Often, two statistics will be recorded from the one event. For example, a turnover by an offensive player may also be a steal for the defensive player.
There are some local competitions that do statistics on a competition, however, anyone can get involved by attending a statistics course which is usually arranged by the state associations.
Once you have level 1 accreditation you can participate in state competitions and from there can progress to Australian Junior Championship events, the National Wheelchair Leagues, the Women’s National League (WNBL), the Men’s National Basketball League (NBL) and onto international games hosted in Australia.
WHY BECOME A STATSITICAN?
Some people really enjoy the recording and analysis of data and it gives them a different insight into the game. Other people may simply want to stay involved in the game after they have played, coached or officiated at a high level. The reasons for becoming a statistician are many and varied and like refereeing and scoretable it can be an incredibly rewarding way to be a part of the basketball community!
HOW TO BECOME INVOLVED AS A TECHNICAL OFFICIAL
To become involved in refereeing, Basketball Australia encourages you to speak with the officials' manager or referee coordinator at your local association. You can learn more about Referee pathways and information sources by clicking here.
To become a scoretable official, beginners can take a Level 0 course through their local association which consists of a four-hour session, as well as an open book exam. This leaves the official proficient as a scorer, assistant scorer and timekeeper and allows them to participate in domestic games.
Once experience at the domestic level has been acquired, officials can receive further training to progress to higher levels of competition such as state leagues, national leagues and international competition.
Unlike other participation-based roles and courses of accreditation, the first Level 1 statistician accreditation is conducted by the State body. If you wish to be become an accredited statistician at the state level contact your state office and find out when the next course is being conducted by the state coordinator.
To find your state contact visit the ‘State Contacts’ tab under ‘Participate’ on this website.
To find your local association contact click here.
To purchase your technical officials' merchandise click here.
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