Official’s Guide to Working Alone

It is an unfortunate fact of life that coaches, players and parents will expect the lone official working a youth basketball game to cover the court and see everything as well as two or three officials would. Still, there are ways you can make your job easier. Here are some suggestions.

There are several ways to cover the court when you're working alone. The best position is to work from one free-throw line extended to the other free-throw line extended, across the floor from the scorer's table.

You will have to move off the sideline if the ball is near the opposite sideline so you can rule on the play near the ball. When a team will have to inbound the ball, put the player in the spot for the throw-in, then move a short distance away and gently toss the thrower the ball. That is not the time to demonstrate your trick passes or to see how hard you can fling the ball at the thrower.

Do not get caught on the endline. Move toward it if you need to cover a player near it, but remember it's a long way to the other end to catch up with a fast break.

Get the players to help you on out-of-bounds calls. If you're not sure who touched the ball last, watch the players' reactions. If that doesn't help, ask them who hit it last. If they disagree, use the alternating-possession arrow. Don't argue and waste time.

Don't guess. Admit you can't see everything. If you were able to do it alone, why would they have three- person crews for NBA and WNBA games?

When you meet the coaches before the game, reinforce that you will need, appreciate and expect their cooperation. In an effort to be helpful, coaches will sometimes offer a parent or other untrained official to help. If that happens, politely decline.

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