Basketball Referee Signals: Learn What Each Call Means

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20 Easy to Follow Referee Hand Signals in Basketball

Written By Lamar Hull @ Google+

basketball referee signalsFor all of you who have a passion for basketball and have always wondered what some of the referee hand signals mean in the game or want to brush up on your basketball signal IQ, well here you go!

I have provided a list of referee basketball hand signals with brief definitions and pictures for you. Enjoy!

Time Management Signals

These officiating basketball hand signals are used to communicate between the referee and the time keeper in order to notify starting and stopping of the clock.

Stop Clock – To stop the clock at any point in the game, the referee will raise one hand straight over head with his palms facing out and finger tips pointed.
what are the hand signals of basketball





Start Clock – Beginning with one hand raised above head, the start of the clock is indicated by dropping the raised hand directly towards the floor.

signals in basketball





Full Timeout – When an official wishes to signal for a full timeout it is indicated by two arms spread to the sides forming a “T” shape.

referee signals in basketball




Thirty Second Timeout – To indicate a thirty second timeout has been called by one of the teams, the official will take both hands and place them on top of his shoulders with his elbows out.

referee signals basketball




Jump Ball – When both players have control over the ball at the same time, it is indicated by both thumbs pointing upwards with arms extended.

referee hand signals in basketball with pictures






Substitution – If a substitute player wishes to enter the game it is indicated by having one hand facing the time keeper, raised in a “stop” manner, and the other hand waving the substitute player into the game.

referee hand signals in basketball




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basketball foul Signals

When a player commits a personal foul, the referee will give a specific signal to indicate the type of foul and which player has committed the foul.

Player Control Foul (Charge) – One hand on the back of the head and the other pointing in the opposite direction of the play indicates a charge call has been made.

officiating hand signals in basketball





Hand Check – When a player commits a hand check foul, it is signaled by having one arm extended in front of the chest with the fingers up, and the other arm grabbing the wrist.

officiating basketball hand signals





Blocking – If a defensive player commits a blocking foul the official will have both hands, in fists, touching his hips, and his elbows in tight against his body.

officiating and hand signals in basketball





Holding – The holding signal is made by having one arm extended upwards in front of the face, and the other hand grabbing the wrist.

official signals in basketball





Pushing – To signal a pushing foul, the official will have both hands extended straight in front of him, with his palms facing outward.

official hand signals in basketball





Intentional FoulWhen a player commits an intentional foul, the official will put both arms above his head and cross them.

hand signals used by the referee in basketball





Double Foul – If two players have committed a foul at the same time, the referee will put both hands, in fists, extended out towards the sides.

hand signals of basketball




Technical Foul – To signal 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”.

hand signals in officiating basketball




Illegal Hand Use – An illegal hand use foul is signaled by the official putting both of his hands in front of him, at waist level, and grabbing one of his wrists with the other hand.

hand signals of basketball




basketball Violation HAND Signals

A violation is a rule which is broken, but it does not result in a player picking up a personal foul. The other team is awarded possession of the ball.
Traveling – When a player has committed a traveling violation, the official will signal it by placing both of his hands in front of him and moving them in a circle.

hand signals in officiating basketball





Carrying or Palming – In order to signal a palming or carrying violation, the referee will have one hand at the side, flipped over from palm up to palm down.

hand signals in basketball with pictures and meaning




Double Dribble – The official will signal a double dribble violation has been committed by putting both of his hands in front of him, with palms down, and alternating them up and down, as if dribbling a basketball.

hand signals in basketball with pictures





Three Seconds – The official will indicate that a player has committed a three second violation by having three fingers raised, and the hand makes a swiping motion back and forth at the side.

hand signals in basketball with definition and picture





Five Seconds – In order to signal a five second violation the official will have five fingers raised with arm extended upward.

hand signals in basketball with definition




Ten Seconds – The ten second violation is shown when the official has ten fingers raised with both arms extended upwards.

hand signals in basketball and meanings




Kicking the Ball – When a player kicks the ball, the referee will have one foot raised in front.

hand signals for fouls and violations in basketball


hand signal Indicators

These indicators allow officials to communicate information to the scorer’s table during the game.

Two Point Basket Scored – When a two point basket is scored, the official will extend one arm parallel to the floor and point with two fingers.

hand signals for basketball





Three Point Basket Scored – The official will extend both arms directly upwards with fingers pointed to signify that a player has scored a Three Point Basket.

hand signals basketball





Counting – The referee indicates he is counting for a timed violation by moving his hand back and forth from the middle of the chest to straight in front continuously. Each movement represents one second.

hand signals and officiating in basketball




Basket Counts – To indicate a basket counts, when a foul has also occurred, the referee will drop his hand from shoulder height directly down.

hand signal of the referee in basketball





Basket Does Not Count – To “wave off” a basket, or indicate it does not count because a foul has occurred, the referee will start with both hands at the shoulders, elbows out, and extend hands out directly towards the side.

hand gestures in basketball




Bonus Free Throws – When a player at the free throw line is to be awarded a bonus free throw, the official will extend both of his arms out to his sides completely straight and then move one up and down.

examples of referee hand signals in basketball




Lane Violation – If a player is shooting a free throw and a lane violation occurs, the referee will signal it by raising one of his arms out to his side and holding it there until the free throw is completed.

different types of hand signals in basketball





Basketball referee hand signals can seem complicated because there are so many. Whether you are a referee, parent, player, commentator, or just a student of the game, this referee officiating hand signal guide will help give you a better understanding of the hand signals that referees use on the basketball court!

If you would like to see some more basketball hand signals added, please comment below! Thanks for reading!

If you are interested in improving your game, check out some of the basketball opportunities below:


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