Basketball is a complex sport with many rules and regulations. One important part of the game is the referees and their signals. Each signal has a specific meaning and purpose. Knowing what each signal means is essential for players, coaches, and fans to understand the game.
Here are some of the most common signals referees use and what they mean.
Basketball Violation Hand Signals
The traveling rule states that players cannot take more than two steps without dribbling the ball. There are three ways to signal a travel violation.
- The most common signal is to hold both hands up in the air with the palms facing out. This signal indicates to the players and spectators that a travel violation has occurred.
- Hold one hand up in the air with the palm facing out and the other hand down at your side. This signal is known as the one-hand travel signal.
- Hold both hands up with your fingers pointing upward.
Carrying Or Palming:
The signal for this violation is holding your arm out straight with your palm open. The other way is by holding your arm straight and making a fist with your hand.
When you see a referee in a basketball game raise both hands above their head with their palms facing out, it’s a signal for a double dribble.
The referee holds both hands up in the air with their palms facing out. This signal means that the player has committed a three-second violation.
The referee can signal this violation by holding both hands above their head, with their palms facing out, and then bringing them down in a chopping motion after five seconds have passed.
One of the important signals is the “ten seconds” signal, which indicates that the offensive team has ten seconds to advance the ball past half-court when the referee raises both hands above their head and points at the shot clock with both index fingers.
Basketball Foul Signals
Player Control Foul (Charge):
This type of foul occurs when a player uses their body to block another player trying to dribble or shoot the ball.
When a player control foul is called, the referee will signal with their hands by making a T shape. This signal indicates that the fouled player will receive one free throw attempt.
The ref will signal a hand-check foul by holding their fist in front of them with their palm facing out.
The most common way of blocking signals is to signal with both hands held up in front of the chest.
The referee will signal a holding foul by extending one arm to the side and making a fist with the hand.
The referee will signal a pushing foul by holding one arm out to the side and making a fist with the other hand.
When a player commits an intentional foul, the referee will signal with both hands held at shoulder level and palms facing out. The signal for an intentional foul is unique among all the other basketball referee signals.
A referee signals for a technical foul by holding up two fingers or using an imaginary T with both hands, which stands for “technical.”
The referee will signal for a double foul by holding up both hands and extending both index fingers.
Illegal Hand Use:
An illegal hand-use foul is when a player uses their hand or arm to gain an advantage while playing illegally. The most common signal used by Referees for this violation is by holding up their arms with their palm open and fingers extended.
Hand signal Indicators
Two Point Basket Scored:
The referee will signal this with both hands when two points are scored in basketball. The first hand will be held up with two fingers extended, and the other hand will be held up with one finger. This signal is known as the “two-point basket” signal.
Three Point Basket Scored:
To signal that a three-point basket has been scored, the referee will hold up both hands above their head, with their palms facing out, and extend all fingers.
One hand signal that is used is counting. When a referee counts, they indicate how many fouls have been committed by a player or team.
To signal a basket count, the referee will hold up both hands, palms facing out, and then extend their fingers to form a “V.” The number of fingers extended corresponds to the number of points that have been scored. For example, the referee will extend two fingers if two points have been scored. If three points have been scored, the referee will extend three fingers, and so on.
The basket Does Not Count:
The referee signals that the basket does not count by holding both hands above their head, palms facing out, and waving them back and forth.
Bonus Free Throws
The referee signals for a bonus free throw by holding up both hands with the palms facing out.
The referee’s signal for a lane violation is holding one arm out straight to the side and waving the other arm back and forth across the body.
Kicking the Ball
When the referee raises one foot in front of them with the ball held in front of them. This signal indicates that the player who last touched the ball committed a foul.
Time Management Signals
When the referee holds up their arm with their fist clenched. That’s called the stop clock signal, which indicates that the clock should be stopped.
When the referee blows their whistle and points to their watch, that’s the signal for the “start clock.” This means that the 24-second shot clock will start running.
A full timeout in basketball is signaled by the referee holding both hands above their head, fingers extended, and then crossing them at the wrists. This signal indicates that the game has been stopped, and all players must go to their respective benches.
Thirty Second Timeout
To signal for a thirty-second timeout, the ref will extend both arms to their sides and bring them together in front of their chest, crossing their wrists.
The jump ball signal is when both referees raise their arms above their heads and clap their hands together. This signals that a jump ball is about to take place.
The substitution-referee signal indicates that a substitute is replacing a player. The signal is made by holding one arm to the side and waving the other arm in a circular motion.
Understanding basketball referee signals and their meanings are important for all. With a little practice, anyone can become familiar with the most common signals and their meanings. After all, an informed fan is a better fan!
Clyde Jackson III is a basketball coach and the founder of GCBC Basketball, a basketball-related learning and informational website that focuses on helping young players develop their skills on and off the court. With over 15 years of coaching experience, Clyde has worked with players of all ages and skill levels, from beginners to professionals.