2008 Rule Changes (High School Boys)

The NFHS (high school) Basketball Rules Committee has spoken and the rule changes for 2008 have been released.  Here's a quick rundown.


    In its continuing effort to reduce rough play, the lane spaces nearest  the backboard will no longer be occupied by either team.  The second lane spaces MUST BE occupied by the defensive team (mandatory whether it's 1 shot, 2 shots, 3 shots, or 1 and 1).  The third lane space MAY be occupied by the offensive team (not mandatory) and the fourth lane space (the one closest to the free throw line) MAY be occupied by the defensive team.  Neither team occupies any lane spaces during free throws for technical fouls or intentional fouls.

    As in the past, no players may enter the lane until the free throw has touched the rim.


    When a player wears an illegal shirt, pants or number the penalty will be a technical foul charged directly to the head coach.  It was felt the the responsibility should be that of the coach, not the player.  This change reduces the penalty from one technical to each starter to a maximum of ONE technical foul charged directly to the head coach.


    The Rules Committee is concerned about players' appearances and is striving for a certain sense of uniformity.  The rule is complicated, but the gist of it is this.  Anything that goes "around the entire head" must meet the rule requirements regarding such things as COLOR, SIZE, LOGO, and TEAM UNIFORMITY.  Headbands (and wristbands) must BOTH be the same color as the predominant color of the jersey OR black, white or beige..... For example, if the jersey is red, the headband may be red, black, white or beige. 

    As for "hair control devices" there are no color restrictions.

4.  INCIDENTAL CONTACT (definition change and point of emphasis)

    I've been talking about this one for years.  Basketball is different from football when it comes to loose balls.  Finally the Rules Committee has decided to change the wording on the definition of "incidental contact" to help clarify our rules on it.  Essentially, "a foul should be called when DISPLACEMENT occurs while opponents attempt to secure a loose ball."

    A typical play has A-1 and B-1 both running after a loose ball with A-1 slightly ahead in the race.  In a desperate attempt to get to the ball first, B-1 dives toward the ball and "displaces" A-1 just enough to throw him off stride or lose his balance.  In this case, whether the contact was "incidental" or "on purpose" is irrelevent.  The key is whether referee felt the contact by B-1 was sufficient to "displace" A-1.  If so, then a foul will be called on B-1.

5.  Point of Emphasis (POST PLAY)

    Again, the key word is "DISPLACEMENT."  Offensive players that create space by "backing down" a defender OR defensive players "bodying" offensive players off their spot on the floor are examples of post-play fouls that must be called.  From a player's perspective, all this means is the same thing it has always meant.  Any player is entitled to any spot on the floor PROVIDED he gets there first and gets there legally.  The referee will have to be alert to see the play develop and be able to determine which player first legally attains a spot on the floor.  If he does this, he will be able to make his judgment accordingly.

6.  Point of Emphasis (HAND CHECKING)

    Please do not read too much into the fact that "hand checking" is a point of emphasis.  Let's clarify.

    There are a few aspects of this that are pretty clear.  A player may not CONTINUOUSLY place a hand (or "STEER") an opponent with (or without) the ball.  A player may not place BOTH hands on an opponent.  A player may not CONTINUOUSLY "jab" a hand (or forearm) into an opponent.  These actions are fouls and are to be called when the referee sees an advantage/disadvantage situation.

    BUT, this does NOT mean that ALL CONTACT by the hands is a foul.   Here's what typically happens.  A-1, a clever and powerful ball handler, drives directly towards the legally extended arms of his defender B-1 and, in the process, is the one who is actually causing the contact with the hands, arms or body of the defender.  The coaches of both teams are pleading for a foul......the defensive coach wants a "charge" call while the offensive coach wants a call for "hand checking."  

    Bottom line?  It still boils down to "advantage/disadvantage" and who is causing what to whom.  Contact with the hands is not automatically a hand checking foul.  That's why we have referees to sort this stuff out. 

7.  Point of Emphasis (SLAPPING THE BACKBOARD)

    Pure and simple, slapping the backboard is NOT (in and of itself) anything!  The rules specify that "INTENTIONALLY" slapping the backboard is a technical foul.  The "spirit and intent" of the rule is to penalize a player for drawing attention to himself or venting his frustrations.  BUT a player who strikes the backboard while making a "legitimate attempt" to block a shot should NOT be penalized.  It's up to the referee to make a determination as to the intent and, frankly, caution must be used.  If the referee is unsure, the act should be considered unintentional. 

Do you have a question?  Have you seen a play you didn't understand?   Was there
a controversy you'd like clarified?  Send your questions in and I'll do my best to get you an answer.

                                                            Skip Yutzler
                                                         IAABO Board 127
                             36 Years High School and Junior College Official
                            5 Times NY State HS Championships - Glens Falls

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