Basketball referee signals: Understanding the different hand signals NBA referees use

Basketball referee signals: Understanding the different hand signals NBA referees use

Basketball referees use a variety of signals to communicate with players, coaches, and officials during a game. These signals indicate when a foul has been committed, a timeout has been called, and when the ball is out of bounds. They are an important part of the game and help ensure the rules are followed properly. This article will discuss the different basketball referee signals and how they can be used in games.

Basketball referee signals
Many signals are used by referees in the NBA and other basketball leagues to ensure the smooth running of the game. Find out about them in our post today. Photo by Kent Smith. (Modified by author).
Source: Getty Images

These are some of the most common signals used by NBA referees, their purpose and how they should be interpreted by players, coaches, and fans. By understanding these signals more clearly, we can all better understand what is happening on the court during an NBA game.

What is the role of the referee in basketball?

Referees play an important role in the game of basketball and are responsible for ensuring that the game's rules are followed and that all players abide by them. Referees also have the power to decide on fouls, violations, and other infractions during a game.

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NBA referee signals
Referee Ashley Moyer-Gleich #13 looks on during the first half of the Washington Wizards and Chicago Bulls game at Capital One Arena on January 11, 2023, in Washington, DC. Photo by Rob Carr.
Source: Getty Images

They also can issue technical fouls and eject players from a game if necessary. The umpire's job is to ensure that all players play fairly and safely while ensuring the game runs smoothly. Without referees, basketball would be chaotic and dangerous for players and spectators.

NBA Basketball referee signals

Referee Signals for Starting and Stopping the Clock Five NBA referee signals are used to stop and start the clock. Players, coaches and the official timekeeper must keep a close eye out for these signals and understand them completely.
Starting the Clock Gesture The official raises their right hand and drops it to their side to signal the clock should be started. The umpire will not blow a whistle for this gesture.
Stopping the ClockThe timekeeper must stop the clock when an umpire blows the whistle with their right hand raised straight in the air. During a game, the clock can be stopped for a number of reasons, like fouls, out-of-bounds situations, timeout requests, and free throws.
Jump Balls and Held Balls With both thumbs pointing upward, the umpire will position both hands directly in front of themself at chest level. Then, to indicate that the timer should be paused for a jump ball, the umpire will raise both hands simultaneously and blow their whistle.
Foul Signals An umpire will gesture a foul by lifting their right arm, forming a fist, and gusting the whistle.
Optional Bird Dog Gesture for Fouls The official blows the whistle raises the right fist above their head, and extends the left hand horizontally to indicate a foul.

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NBA Basketball referee hand signals: Informational referee gestures

Seven informational gestures are used during a basketball game, and a referee will not blow the whistle with any of the following gestures:

Basketball referee number signals
Vaughan Mayberry referees during the round 15 NBL match between Sydney Kings and Illawarra Hawks at Qudos Bank Arena on January 15, 2023, in Sydney, Australia. Photo by Jason McCawley.
Source: Getty Images
Directional The umpire will extend their hand to one side of the court to indicate which team gets the ball if it goes out of bounds.
Spot of ViolationAn umpire will point using their right hand to designate the spot for a throw-in or a spot violation.
Move Along the End Line on Throw-inThe umpire will hold the ball in their right hand. The left hand will be placed on the right side of the neck and swipe towards the left.
Visible CountFor this gesture, the official bends their right arm towards the chest and then extends it horizontally.
Beckoning SubstitutesWhen a substitute is waiting to enter the game, the umpire will raise their hand at a 45-degree angle and motion the player onto the court.
60-Second Time-OutsAn umpire indicates a 60-second timeout by folding their hands to the centre of the chest and then extending their arms horizontally.
30-Second Time-OutsAn umpire will lift their arms vertically, extend their elbows horizontally, and touch their fingertips to their shoulders.

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Basketball referee number signals

Basketball referees use a system of number gestures to communicate with players and coaches during a game. These gestures indicate the type of foul, violation, or other infraction that has been committed.

NBA Basketball referee signals
Referee David Guthrie #16 during the game between the Phoenix Suns and the Denver Nuggets on January 11, 2023, at the Ball Arena in Denver, Colorado. Photo by Bart Young.
Source: Getty Images

The numbers in this system range from 0-5, each with a specific meaning. By understanding these gestures, players and coaches can better understand the decisions made by the umpire during a game.

Basketball hand signals

Basketball hand gestures are an important part of the game. They allow players to communicate with each other without having to speak, which can be especially useful in noisy environments. Referee basketball signals can also help coaches and referees make decisions quickly and accurately.

Different referee hand signals in basketball
Referee Matt Myers #43 officiates the game between the Sacramento Kings and the Orlando Magic at Golden 1 Center on January 09, 2023, in Sacramento, California. Photo by Lachlan Cunningham.
Source: Getty Images

Technical foul hand signal in basketball

To gesture a technical foul has occurred, the referee will place both his hands in front of him and put them in the formation of a letter "T". Double Foul – If two players have committed a foul at the same time, the umpire will put both hands, in fists, extending out towards the sides.

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Different referee hand signals in basketball

There are many different kinds of gestures that a referee can use on the court. The signals can be categorized into;

What is the role of referee in basketball
The referee blows his whistle during the round 14 NBL match between Sydney Kings and Perth Wildcats at Qudos Bank Arena, on January 07, 2023, in Sydney, Australia. Photo by Jenny Evans.
Source: Getty Images
  1. Time Management Signals
  2. Foul Signals
  3. Violation Signals
  4. Hand Signal Indicators

Basketball referee signals are the best in terms of proper communication on the court. The signals allow some obvious information to be passed from the referee to a specific player. The gestures have been set and made the standard by the body governing basketball in the world.

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Sports Brief has recently posted about dodgeball. Dodgeball is a team sport that is very common in the US. The sport involves teams that try to hit opponents on the other side with an orb.

When a player is hit with the ball, he leaves the court and thus earns points for the opposing team. The sport was founded approximately 200 years ago. The game has interesting standards that are followed on a regular. Rules on how to play dodgeball are outlined in the link above.

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