Frequently Asked Questions - Rules
1) When can I approach the referees regarding rules questions?
Spectators may not discuss any rulings, calls or decisions with referees. Coaches may discuss such matters only during official timeouts of after completion of a quarter. Coaches must always maintain proper decorum and respect for officials. The penalty for breach of these rules is a technical foul. A second technical foul will result in ejection and carries a mandatory suspension.
A spectator who disrupts the orderly process of the game or engages in verbal abuse of officials will be asked to leave the gymnasium. A spectator who refuses a direction to leave the gymnasium risks forfeiture of the game for his or her child's team.
2) Regarding double-teaming or illegal zone defenses, is the technical foul charged to the team or the player?
The technical foul is assessed as a bench technical. It does not have an impact on player eligibility or disqualification. Double-teaming and illegal zone defenses are team violations and after two warnings result in technical fouls (two free throws and possession) on the third violation and each subsequent violation.
3) Is spreading the court on offense to create an isolation one-on-one play allowed in 3rd/4th or 5th/6th division?
During the times when player-to-player defense is mandatory (in the 3rd/4th grade leagues and in the first half of 5th/6th grade games), spreading the court to create isolation plays violates the spirit of the rules restricting the defenses. One purpose of the house league is to provide for balanced play and enhance the learning process and fundamental skills of young basketball players. Offensive teams that create isolation plays risk the imposition of a technical foul.
By way of example, if a team lines up 4 players below the foul line on one side of the court and creates a one-on-one opportunity for the 5th player on the opposite side of the floor, an illegal isolation play exists. On the other hand, a coach may see fit to position four players in four corners of the frontcourt for a few seconds in an effort to get organized while the fifth offensive player holds the ball and does not attack the basket. Such action is not illegal and perhaps necessary in order to reset a teams offensive attack.
There are many play variations; therefore, an illegal isolation play depends on a judgment by the officials. All coaches and spectators should be mindful of the fact that most well constructed, well executed basketball plays result in isolation at some point and that our rules are not designed to eliminate fundamentally sound basketball.
4) Is there a penalty for intentionally committing a backcourt defense violation in the 3rd/4th and 5th/6th divisions?
Under "Special RBA Rules, Defensive Pressure", the defensive team must retreat behind the half court line when the offense gains possession of the ball in the backcourt. A backcourt violation is called without additional penalty if the defense fails to retreat. The rationale for the lack of additional penalty is to encourage players to remain aggressive in loose ball and rebounding situations.
However, in the case where a team/player is intentionally trying to stop a fast break, a (bench) technical foul will be called if the official believes that the violation was intentional and possession by the offense was so clear as to make it impossible to believe that the defender was attempting to obtain possession of a loose ball or rebound. This is a very rare occurrence as such a ruling would only be made if an unsportsmanlike intent existed.
Full court pressure is permitted in the fourth quarter of games played in the 5th/6th grade division and for the entire game in the 7th/8th grade divisions. When a team is ahead by ten or more points, no full court pressure may be employed and the above interpretations apply.
5) Is there a rule about how long you can hold the ball?
There is no special rule; a five second violation is called at every level. A bit more leniency is given to the 3rd/4th grade player and that leniency is gradually eliminated as the season progresses.
6) Why do the officials make more calls in the playoffs than in the regular season?
One purpose of the house program, especially in the lower levels, is to teach the game of basketball to all players regardless of ability. Therefore, at the lower levels of the program, officials might be more lenient when deciding to call violations in the early part of the season. This is especially true in those situations where no advantage is gained by the player committing the violation or the violation is not forced by good defensive play.
Frequently spectators will hear officials reminding players to get out of the lane or to find the player you are guarding rather than stop the game and call a violation. Our officials are encouraged to do this to enhance the teaching aspect of the house program.
As the season progresses and the skills of the players improve officials tighten the games and call violations as they are observed. By the end of the season and playoffs, all violations are called.
Ideally, our division champions should be the most proficient teams in their respective divisions. With that in mind, officials are instructed to call all violations in the playoffs.
Further rules questions may be addressed to Joe Heinzmann, Director for Rules and Officials at: