How To Referee Basketball

How do you referee basketball?

Being a basketball referee can be a fun activity in which someone can also make some extra money. There are many important things to consider when you referee a basketball game. To begin with, it is necessary to know all the rules of the game of basketball, and particular rules of games or leagues that one might be refereeing. Second, it is necessary to know when to apply the rules and how to enforce them, treating players, coaches, fans, and other officials with respect and fairness. Also, it is necessary to have the right equipment referees need to use. Let's start by taking a look at the basics, what referees:

What are referees?

Referees are a type of official. They control all aspects of the basketball game. There are six different types of officials.

Depending on the game, the number of officials involved in a basketball game can change, but regardless of how many people are working, they must act together to guarantee that the game goes along smoothly and fair.

What do referees do?

Basketball referees must know all the game's rules and regulations because they are the ones responsible for enforcing them, keeping the final result fair. Referees must call fouls, check for violations award scores, and keep the game under control. The team of officials must decide what each member will be responsible for doing during a game, or which area of the court they will center their attention on. Sometimes referees will need the assistance of other officials to decide on a call, and thus they may have to gather and talk about the play. All that is so that the fairest outcome is achieved, and to make sure the game is being played within the rules.

Some of the violations called by referees include:

How do officials call a foul or violation?

When an official spots a violation, his or her will blow a whistle to indicate that the action must be stopped. Naturally, everyone's attention will turn to referee who blew the whistle, in this where another part of being a referee comes in; referees must signal what violation was committed and by who. To do that, referees do signals with their hands and arms, therefore, all referees must know the signs, their meaning, and when to do them.

Being a referee is not easy. It is impossible to please everyone or get every call right, so referees will often face confrontation from fans, players, coaches, and even parents. It is important for referees to not let missed calls or complaints influence on other calls throughout the game. If that happens, people start to question decisions more often, the referee loses credibility, and the game becomes chaos, because players and coaches of both sides will be talking too much to referee. To not let that happen, referees must make every call with confidence, and with a body language that shows that. Even if referees are not sure if a call they made was actually the right one, they gotta act as if they were 100% certain, not giving players and coaches room to complain more than necessary. However, that must be done while keeping composure and respecting everyone involved with the game. If the situation gets out of hand, referees can rely on technical fouls to control the nerves on the court.

How to Become a Referee

Referees are required in basketball games of all levels, without them there is no organized basketball. Regardless of the level of basketball you want to referee (youth, college, NBA), you have to start from the bottom. Many recreational centers require referees to youth games, and that is a good place to start. A good idea is also to become a member of the National Association of Sport Officials, they do trainings and can certainly help you become a better referee. Starting from the bottom, you can work your way until becoming a full-time referee for the NBA, or simply have some fun officiating local high school games.

Referee Equipment List

There are quite a few pieces of equipment that basketball referees must have in order to do their job. Take a look at them here:

  • Black athletic shoes
  • Black athletic socks
  • Black beltless slacks
  • Striped black and white shirt
  • Good, loud whistle

PRO TIP: When purchasing your equipment, remember that you are going to be running and sweating while working, so buy comfortable and light clothes


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