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Michael Leavitt shares his innermost thoughts as they relate to his personal and family life. He can be heard to say often to his kids... “There’s no upside!”

NOTE: If you are interested in Michael’s business inspection related blog, then click on Bloggers in the left column and select Michael - Inspector.

Tip-Offs Done Right - "HOLD YOUR SPOTS!"


ML2014The start of a high school basketball game must be done right. If you get that wrong, then everything can go downhill quickly. Unfortunately, many bad habits and incorrect tip-off violation calls are made because new officials just follow and learn from their senior partners and end up doing what they have seen done time and time again. Getting back to the high school rulebook helps us refocus on the allowed movements by the nonjumpers at the start of the game.

COMMONLY HEARD PHRASES - Listen carefully to the officials at the next game you attend. Too often we hear... "Don't move" or "Hold your spots" just before the Referee tosses up the ball.

Unfortunately for them, these phrases couldn't be any less true. The Referee is directing his comments to all of those players (nonjumpers) who have taken their spots around the circle, and they are NOT required to hold their spots.

Are you aware that any nonjumper can move off the circle at any time; before, during, or after the referee is ready to toss; before, during, or after the toss; and before, during, or after the tip. Movement off the circle is NOT a violation and NOT a penalty. Unfortunately, we see players back off the circle and the sideline Umpire watching the tip will blow their whistle and award the other team the ball on the sideline. This is not correct and it makes for a really clumsy start to a game. Yes, there are violations to look for, but simply moving off the circle is NOT one of them.


6-3 Jump Ball Administration...

ART. 1 For any jump ball, each jumper shall have both feet within that half of the center restraining circle which is farther from his/her basket.

ART. 2 When the official is ready and until the ball is tossed, nonjumpers shall not:

  • a. Move onto the center restraining circle.
    b. Change position around the center restraining circle.

ART. 3 Teammates may not occupy adjacent positions around the center restraining circle if an opponent indicates a desire for one of these positions before the referee is ready to toss the ball.

ART. 4 The ball shall be tossed upward between the jumpers in a plane at right angles to the sidelines. The toss shall be to a height greater than either of them can jump so that it will drop between them.

ART. 5 Until the tossed ball is touched by one or both jumpers, nonjumpers shall not:

  • a. Have either foot break the plane of the center restraining circle cylinder.
    b. Take a position in any occupied space.

ART. 6 The tossed ball must be touched by one or both of the jumpers after it reaches its highest point. If the ball contacts the floor without being touched by at least one of the jumpers, the referee shall toss it again.

ART. 7 Neither jumper shall:

  • a. Touch the tossed ball before it reaches its highest point.
    b. Leave the center restraining circle until the ball has been touched.
    c. Catch the jump ball.
    d. Touch the ball more than twice.

ART. 8 The jump ball and the restrictions in 6-3-7 end when the touched ball contacts one of the eight nonjumpers, an official, the floor, a basket or backboard.

NOTE: During a jump ball, a jumper is not required to face his/her own basket, provided he/she is in the proper half of the center restraining circle. The jumper is also not required to jump and attempt to touch the tossed ball. However, if neither jumper touches the ball it should be tossed again with both jumpers being ordered to jump and try to touch the ball.


You will see where the confusion most likely arises...

ART. 2 When the official is ready and until the ball is tossed, nonjumpers shall not:

  • a. Move onto the center restraining circle.
    b. Change position around the center restraining circle.

a. is referring to a non-jumper coming freshly onto the circle. It is b. that clarifies that they cannot change positions on the circle. Therefore, stating "Don't move" or "Hold your spots" is incorrect. I suppose you could say, "Don't change your spots!" or "Your chance is up, no more coming onto the circle!" but that would be pretty awkward.

So what is allowed? Non-jumpers can have a spot on the circle and back out without penalty. So where can they move? That needs to be understood carefully as well. Let's look into the Case Book for clarification...


6.3.2 SITUATION: The referee is ready to toss the ball to start the game. (a) A1 who was on the center restraining circle backs off; (b) B1 moves onto the restraining circle into an unoccupied spot; (c) B2 moves off the circle and goes behind A2 and is within 3 feet of the circle; or (d) B3 moves off the circle about 5 feet and moves around behind A3 and A4 who are occupying spaces on the circle. RULING: Legal in (a) and (d), but a violation in both (b) and (c). Moving off the restraining circle in (a), and around the circle when more than 3 feet away as in (d), is permissible. It is a violation to move onto the circle as in (b), until the ball leaves the official’s hand, or into an occupied space as in (c), until the ball is touched. The violation by B results in a throw-in for Team A. (4-3)

In my experience, fellow officials are often erroneously calling (a) and (d) above violations. It may seem like a little issue, but getting it wrong muddles up the game. Get it right, and the game takes off and the clock starts moving. In the high school world of officiating basketball, keeping the clock moving is key to our success!

The above commentaries are my own and your mileage may vary!

Michael Leavitt - Orem, Utah



OTHER REFERENCE - If you want to be amazed by all of the different tip-off strategies, then visit this site and be ready to be overwhelmed... I'm kind of glad I am not a coach.

2019 Blood Moon - Clear Skies In Utah!
Ball Hit Bat - Or - Bat Hit Ball


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