Rule 6: Live Ball/Dead Ball

Live Ball/Dead Ball (Rule 6)

Outside of Rule 4, I believe Rule 6 (LIVE BALL/DEAD BALL) is the most important rule in basketball and should be studied quite closely. Whether a ball is live or dead has so much impact on the game, it is imperative officials have a clear understanding of not only the rule but of its’ potential impact.

SITUATION: Team A has scored. The ball is bouncing close to the end line when A1 illegally contacts B1.
COMMENT: By rule, if you determine the ball is still dead, as it would be once the ball fell completely through the basket until the ball is considered at the disposal of Team B, and there is illegal contact (commonly a hold, push, or block), such contact is to be ignored unless intentional or flagrant. This is because contact fouls during a dead ball, if called, must be ruled technical. Otherwise they should be ignored.

To avoid as much as possible having such a situation as described above happen, officials should not be slow in ruling the ball is at a team’s disposal. Begin counting when reasonable but do not delay. Make sure however, your count is deliberate and not fast. Some officials think “1 1000” between each count. Others make sure their hand makes definite contact below the ribcage with each count. Whatever you do, the key is to find a way to count that is deliberate. Making an “air count” can result in a less than consistent count. It is not unusual to have a fast paced game result in officials counting too fast. You want to get the ball live as quickly as possible but be deliberate in your five second count.

SITUATION: Establishing versus Using the Alternating Procedure
COMMENT: It is important to remember there is a difference between establishing the Alternating Procedure and using the Alternating Procedure.

At the beginning of a game or extra period, the AP is established by one team gaining control. This can be done by:

  • A player gaining control by holding or dribbling the ball.
  • A thrower having the ball at his/her disposal for a throw-in due to a violation during or following a jump ball before control has been established, after free throws for a noncommon foul (usually a technical), or after a common foul before the bonus in effect (usually at the start of the game).
  • A free thrower having the ball at his/her disposal for a common foul when the bonus is in effect (usually this would happen in an extra period).

In the above, the arrow is immediately pointed to the opposing team’s basket as the AP is now established, NOT BEING USED. Because the AP is not being “used,” should the thrower or a teammate violate, the AP arrow does change or become lost (they never had it to begin with).

The above is important as when the AP is being used, if the thrower or a teammate violates, the arrow is changed. In addition, the arrow changes only AFTER the throw-in ends (by legal touching or a violation).

Remember, when “establishing” the AP, the arrow is set immediately upon one of the triggering events described above happening. When “using” the AP, the arrow direction is changed only upon the throw-in ending due to legal touching.

Get the establishing part down pat. Don’t start the game or extra period with a mistake and make sure the table KNOWS what you are doing. The table probably knows when to change the arrow pretty well but they likely are not as familiar with establishing the arrow.

The Advanced Officiating e-mails are part specific rule discussion and part my opinion. I welcome your comments and questions to the backcourt rule or other situations.

Eddie Monaghan

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