How to Study the Rules

The rulebook is an official's bible. It provides the "nuts and bolts" basics that each official must master before stepping onto the floor. Youth sport officials also must deal with "local rules." Almost every program has subtle alterations to the basic rulebook. You must be aware of the variations and be ready to apply them before the game begins.

Here are some tips that will help you move closer to mastering the rulebook:

Speed-read the entire book.

Read through the book as if you're cruising through a novel. You will not remember everything you read, but don't worry about that now. After the initial reading of the entire rulebook, study in increments of 15-20 minutes per sitting.

Categorize the rules.

Some rules have more game-to-game impact than others. Ask yourself: Which is more important, a basketball player's legal-guarding position or the radius of the jump-ball circle?


For each sentence, visualize several plays that relate to what's discussed.

Have several copies of the same rulebook.

Keep copies wherever you spend a great deal of time, such as in your living room, bedroom, bathroom, office, etc. Read it when time permits.

Review the book each day.

Read some part of the rulebook each day, including during the off-season.

Study just before falling asleep.

Research has shown that memory retention is enhanced by studying right before sleeping.

Check related casebook plays.

Once you've grasped a rule, read related casebooks and manuals before moving to the next rule. Casebooks enhance knowledge by taking rules and placing them into game situations.

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