Basketball Officials

Chapter 9.1

Who are the officials and referees? What is their job during a basketball game? Get ready to learn about the officials in basketball.

Officials & Referees

In basketball, the officials control all. There are six (6) officials in a professional NBA football game:

Each official and referee is responsible for interpreting the rulebook for a different part of a basketball game. However, the Crew Chief always has final say in a ruling if there is a disagreement.

Rookie Road Basketball Officials Image

As a basketball fan, don't worry about what each of the officials do. If you're curious we will look to cover them in future basketball tutorials.


The officials and referees will call a foul or violation on a player or team if one happens during a game.

A foul is type of a penalty given to a player and/or the team. A foul can be given to players on the offense or defense. Hence the terms, offense fouls and defensive fouls. There are many types of fouls in basketball. If you're just starting out you should know about technical fouls and personal fouls.


A violation is also a type of penalty. Teams that get called for a violation are penalized. The other team is rewarded with possession of the ball and sometimes free throws if a foul are given.

PRO TIP: My first tip is to listen to the call. The referees are usually pretty good at calling a foul or violation. It is after all what they are trained to do...

Official Signals

A referee will blow his/her whistle and make a signal when a rule is broken. At that point, the referee will announce to everyone the reasoning behind why play was stopped. During this announcement, the referee will make a signal with his hands to define the foul or violation.


Coaches can challenge a call by a referee if they feel that it is too close to call. The rules for how many challenges teams get in basketball are different at all levels of play (youth, college, pro).

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