A basketball referee relies on his or her expert knowledge of basketball rules and regulations to officiate a game in a fair manner. He or she must be in good physical condition, as the nature of the game requires referees to frequently run, stop, and turn, all while keeping a careful eye on the action. In addition, a good basketball referee is entirely objective, assertive in his or her rulings, and effective at quickly setting disputes.
Referees at all levels of competition are essential to ensure fair, safe play. From local youth leagues to college and professional associations, referees must thoroughly understand all of the rules and be able to enforce them when appropriate. Many referees at the youth and high school level have little or no formal training; they commit to learning the rules and duties of the job on their own. Officials who work at college and professional basketball events generally have extensive experience at lower levels of competition as well as formal training from a referee camp or academy. Training camps may take anywhere from ten to 15 weeks to complete, and involve extensive classroom instruction and practice events.
Whistles and stopwatches are essential pieces of equipment for a basketball referee. He or she uses a whistle to signal to players, timekeepers, scorers, and other referees that play is to be stopped or started. A basketball referee keep track of the official game clock and shot clock on a stopwatch in case a scoreboard clock malfunctions.
Referees usually work in teams of two or three to help ensure that proper calls are made. When a foul or rule violation is committed, the referees will stop play, collaborate on difficult calls, and use hand signals to inform scorers, players, and the crowd of the infraction. There is an extensive set of hand signals that a referee must commit to memory so that they may be used properly throughout a game.
At times, a basketball referee may be faced with difficult judgment calls, such as determining the last person that touched the ball before it went out-of-bounds. He or she is required to make quick, assertive decisions that may be unpopular with some fans and players. A referee must remain committed to his or her rulings despite opposition. In addition, a referee may have to explain their calls to angry coaches, break up on-court skirmishes, and eject violent players from a game. The job can be quite emotionally, mentally, and physically demanding, but a good referee is skilled at handling stress and difficult decisions with poise and professionalism.