Consistency - The Coaches Catchphrase

In today’s modern game of basketball, the word that is heard before, during and after each game by participants, media and spectators is “CONSISTENCY”. We ask question: what does “CONSISTENCY” mean? Answer is very simple. Consistency is the correct interpretation of situations and the correct application of decisions in officiating.

In many cases, the spirit and intent of the rules may be more important than the actual rule. Applying the spirit and intent of the rules is determined by the official’s “feel for the game”. Because FEEL FOR THE GAME is doing WHAT is right for the game, at that moment, that particular play in that game. It is not WHO is right but WHAT is right for the game.

Being consistent requires officials to be: BRAVE (showing courage, not fear), HONEST (no favour to either team), DECISIVE (clear, immediate calls), A TEAM (calling the same way).

Factors creating consistency:
▪ Excellent team communication
1. Pre-game conference
2. Eye contact
3. Verbal/non-verbal communication
4. Same philosophy in calling

▪ Excellent participant communication.
1. Dialogue with coaches/players
2. Being approachable
3. Firm and fair
4. Giving and receiving respect

Applying consistency with regard to specific criteria: 1. CONTACT- (Post play, fast break, 1 v 1, rebounding, charge/block)-was the player dislodged, displaced or dispossessed unfairly?

a. Did the defensive player establish an initial legal guarding position?
b. Was the principle of verticality respected?
c. Did either player illegally use arms, legs or other body parts?
d. Was there any flopping/acting?

a. Was the criteria correctly applied?
b. Was it a genuine attempt to play the ball?
c. Was the contact excessive or dangerous?


a. Was the pre-game criteria applied by all the officials?
b. Were the officials firm but fair?
c. Was the situation handled with quiet authority?
d. Did the official’s team cooperate?

a. Was the correct criteria applied?
b. When did the foul occur?
c. Was the player in the act of shooting?
d. Had the ball come to rest?
e. Was the motion continuous?
f. Was the ball released or still in the hand?
g. Was the player in the air or had he returned to the floor?
h. Did the shooting player “spread” his legs to create contact with his opponent?

There are consequences of “INCONSISTENCY”. Referees which are not working consistently as individuals or as a team will create confusion about what is legal or illegal, will also create frustration for the players/coaches and this will lead to lack of respect and confrontation.

That is why we need to be aware of factors supporting consistency:
1.Correct analysis of the play or situation.
2.Correct understanding of what has actually happened in the play or situation.
3. Applying basketball knowledge and experience as an individual and/or as part of a team.
4. Knowing that sometimes the best call could be a “no-call”.
5. Using “preventative” officiating, talking to players/coaches to avoid the infraction.
6. Using your “presence” and respect to promote professionalism.

Assuming, dealing with the modern catchphrase of “consistency” is an intergral part of the official´s role on the court. It is essentially a “human” perspective on performance and behaviour on and off the court. It is about ethics, integrity, honesty, fairness and having self-confidence.

by Alan Richardson


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