Jumping Into Trouble

What should you do when the teams are going in the wrong direction?

You had a good pregame meeting with your partners and you feel poised and prepared as you step into the packed high school gym.

The starting lineup hoopla is completed and you nod to your partners before you step into the center circle for the jump ball to start the game.

The toss is perfect and Team A’s jumper times their leap perfectly and taps it to a teammate who dribbles in for the first two points of the game.

Over the deafening roar of the crowd you can see the coaches and the scorekeeper waving frantically for your attention.

Before you can mutter, “what the ….”

…you realize the teams were facing the wrong way and Team A scored in Team B’s basket.

Now what?

The first thing to remember is when you have an “official” problem (i.e. an inadvertent whistle; a block/charge snafu, etc.), you don’t want to compound the problem by “fixing things” incorrectly…You have to calmly get it right. This will mentally put your crew back on track and demonstrate to the coaches that you are not just winging it.

Also, this is NOT a correctable error situation, and therefore not subject to the correctable error timeline.

Lining the players up facing the wrong basket is an official’s mistake and should be corrected whenever it is brought to your attention.

The remedy is a simple one:

Turn the teams around and keep EVERYTHING ELSE the same…

This is not a pick-up game; there are no “do-overs.” The time and score stay as is.

If this jump ball debacle has happened to one of your fellow officials; learn from their mistake and don’t repeat it…They took the bullet – albeit a a self-inflicted wound — for you; so don’t let it be for nothing.

One foolproof way to ensure this jump ball mix-up will never occur in your game is to make sure the two jumpers are directly across from their OWN benches. Team A’s jumper should be on the SAME side of the division line as his/her teammates; and the same, obviously, for Team B’s jumper.

However, for any and every overtime session in the game, the jumpers should be directly across from their OPPONENT’S bench.

It is a rocky, and admittedly, embarrassing way to start a game, but correcting the mistake correctly is the only way to make the best of a bad situation. Because undoubtedly this play will be discussed by the coaches and spectators in their post-game analysis of the contest, so the only redeeming factor will be that you knew what to do to fix the problem.

So take a quick peek at your benches before you toss the ball and you will always avoid jumping into a problem.

Rule Reference
NFHS Casebook 5.2.1

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21 thoughts on “Jumping Into Trouble

  1. Since the officials lined the players up facing the wrong direction the points will count for Team A.

  2. What if it wasn’t the officials error and they went the wrong way on their own, score for B?
    also, you’re going to put the ball in play under Team B’s own bucket after a make.

    1. To Chris H/ Point: When the player goes the wrong way on his own (Jumpers lined up correctly) there is a 50/50 chance you can have an over and back violation on the ball handler! You can kill that score before it even happens. The umpire MUST be alert to his side of the floor-what color should be coming his/her way-and OBSERVE who gets the tip-Determine front court or back court status-and be ready to call the over and back if it occurs when the player heads for the wrong basket. *To expand the conversation further, what if the player shooting at the wrong basket is fouled? What if the shot at the wrong basket is goal tended or interfered with? Do you shoot foul shots? Do you cancel or count points? G

  3. No, the basket stays with team A. You treat the situation as if the teams had been going in the correct direction. All points scored, fouls committed and time off the clock stays as if the situation never happened. We had this happen in a JV game where the teams went the wrong way for 1:20 at the start of the 4th quarter before anyone realized what was happening.

  4. What if they are lined up correctly, team A still goes the wrong way, is fouled by Team B, and the basket goes in? Score the basket for Team B?

  5. Stop the clock, credit team B with two points, do not give the A player credit for scoring the points, give the ball to team B for a throw-in now going in the right direction. the score is
    2-0 for team B.

  6. If it is an officials error in lining the players up – all baskets count for the team that scored them, all fouls count against the team that committed them, etc.until the mistake is brought to the officials attention. then, point the teams in the right direction and move on. if a player mistakenly shoots in the wrong basket, the goal is counted for the other team, and is designated in a footnote in the book, not credited to a specific player. In the unlikely, yet conceivable event of a player being fouled while shooting at the wrong basket (meaning the defender also thought he was going the right way, or else he’d of just let the player score) – if the foul is called and the basket goes in – count 2 points for the fouling team, and give the ball to the team that got fouled to inbound the ball. They do not shot foul shots – a try for a field goal is an attempt to sore two or three points by throwing the ball into a team’s own basket (4.41.2). since he clearly was not trying to score in his own basket, it is not a shooting foul.

  7. Dead Ball officiating would work for U1 and U2 to make sure their teams are lined up correctly for the jump and going the correction direction for every quarter.
    The referee that administers the toss is the final check before all goes. All three officials ( two) are responsible for the missed direction. Also the table scorer can help, with a horn from the timer to prevent this items. No matter what it happens.

    What happens if an official recognizes the error during play? Stop play. Correct the direction and resume play with the team that had possession of the ball at the time of recognition.

    Believe me this happens at all levels. All partners should help in every Jump situation.
    Check, check , double check and triple check…

  8. We just had a JV game where this occurred. We were yelling at the officials as the tip went up. We played it perfectly and got a layup in less than 8 seconds. We then got the attention of the ref and asked him to correct the directions. He stopped play, had our players switch directions, took our 2 points off the board, awarded them to our opponent, and gave us the ball to head the other way. This is exactly what you SHOULD’T do. Not only did they screw up, but they added to it by deducting 2 points from our team and awarding 2 points to the other team. A 4 point swing. Luckily we played well and won by about 10, but it should’ve been around 14. Terrible officiating.

  9. It is interesting to see the varied interpretations/rulings on this scenario. If the officials let the teams line up incorrectly it should be play ball just as if they lined up right until the officials correct the directions. If player A should score in Bs basket by mistake credit A with 2 points, no player is credited with a basket and a note is made in the book to explain the scoring.

  10. Saw this happen in a youth game: teams lined up wrong on the jump but not noticed by the officials. Team A wins the tap into their “backcourt”. Dribbles across the division line and into their “frontcourt” when they hear their coach yelling about going the wrong way. So A1 turns around and dribbles back to his correct frontcourt to attempt a layup. Official blows the whistle and signals a backcourt violation, then subsequently issues a T on A’s coach who understandably came unglued at the backcourt call. Geesh……

  11. These comments are all over the place. Could the editors please chime in with what is the correct answer and actions if teams line up the wrong way and score in the opposing team’s basket. Thank you

  12. If the teams are lined up correctly at the tip, team A goes in the wrong direction, scores and is fouled there are no point awarded. In this case, the ball becomes dead immediatly when the fould occured. No points are scored, team fould for team B, ball administered for team A throw in.

  13. Um, Mark. . . . No points scored in your scenario ONLY if the foul occurred before the ball went through the hoop. If the ball went in FIRST, then the points count for Team B, but the foul also stands (though NOT a shooting foul, because it wasn’t technically a “shot”). Just clarifying.

  14. Hello everyone,

    Bill is correct, there are many answers here.

    Rather than looking to a moderator, let’s look to the rule book. Sorry for the lengthy comment, there will be rule references though, which will help us sort things out.



    RULE: NFHS 2013-14 Rule Book, Rule 4-5-4:
    “If by mistake the officials permit a team to go the wrong direction, when discovered all points scored, fouls committed, and time consumed shall count as if the team had gone the proper direction. Play shall resume with each team going the proper direction based on bench location.”

    If this isn’t clear, let’s go to the case book:

    CASE 1: In this first one, A2 figures out the officials messed up, decides to capitalize and score a free basket. This basket counts for A, but the direction is then fixed.

    NFHS 2013-14 Case Book, 5.2.1 Situation E: “…The officials, by mistake, allow the jumpers to face the wrong direction to start the game. A1 controls the tap by tapping the ball back to A2. A2, realizing that he/she had warmed up at the basket behind A1, dribbles to that basket and scores an uncontested basket.
    RULING: Score the basket for team A. The officials should stop the game and emphasize to both teams the proper direction. The mistake is an official’s error allowing A1 and B1 to face the wrong direction; not a correctable error.”

    CASE 2:
    NFHS 2013-14 Case Book, 5.2.1 Situation F: “…The officials, by mistake, allow the jumpers to face the wrong direction to start the game. Several baskets are scored before it is recognized that both teams are throwing the ball into the opponent’s basket.
    RULING: All points count as if the teams had gone the right direction and scored in their own basket. Once the mistake is recognized, play shall continue with each team attempting to score in its own basket. (4-5-4)”


    With case 2 above, you would keep the shooting foul as a shooting foul, shoot free throws normally, etc. All points scored by teams and all fouls are as if the teams are going in the right direction.

    However, if the officials line the teams up correctly, and halfway through the 1st quarter, A1 erroneously decides he’s going to score on his own goal, and B2 gets brought along in the confusion and fouls A1 in the act of “shooting”, the ball becomes dead, and no free throws are awarded. Look up Rule 4-41-2, definitions are key! Here’s the actual words from the case book:

    CASE BOOK 4.41.2 Situation: A1 becomes confused and throws the ball at the wrong
    basket. A1 is fouled by B1 and the ball goes into the basket. Is this a successful
    basket? If A1 missed, would A1 be awarded two free throws for the foul by B1?
    RULING: No goal. The ball became dead when the foul occurred. When a player
    throws at the opponent’s basket, it is not a try. If the team is in the bonus when
    B1 fouled A1, A1 is given either a one-and-one attempt or two free throws at
    Team A’s basket. If Team A was not in the bonus, then the ball is awarded to Team
    A for a throw-in at the out-of-bounds spot nearest the foul. (7-5-4a)

    I sincerely hope this was helpful and not just a bunch of words!

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