Nearly one million high-school basketball players around the country will find themselves playing the game a little differently when the 2014-15 season begins.
That’s how many boys and girls nationwide participate in the sport at the high-school level. A 2012-13 survey found 433,120 girls and 538,676 participating nationwide, and all will be affected by four new rule changes just adopted by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) board of directors.
Perhaps the most significant adjustments to the rules involve defensive play against a ball handler.
An additional article was added to Rule 10-6 that deals with allowable contact with the dribbler, following similar changes made last year at the college level. A foul will now be called when the defensive player puts both hands on the dribbler, places an extended arm bar on the player, places and keeps a hand on the players, and when the defender contacts the player more than once with the same hand or alternating hands.
Also dealing with the issue of fouls, the rule committee has expanded the definition of an intentional foul to address the issue of contact with the elbows, hopefully reducing the subjectivity that is involved in making this call.
The change that will be most noticeable, however, will be at the free-throw line.
In the past, players weren’t allowed to enter the lane on a free-throw attempt until the ball hit the rim or backboard. Beginning next season, they can release to go for the rebound as soon as the ball leaves the shooter’s hand.
That change in Rule 9-1-4 is designed as a way to help officials monitor the action. Before, they have had to watch the ball hit the rim or backboard while also checking for lane violations. The change will also give the officials more time to get the best angles on watching the rebounding activity.
The NFHS director of sports and officials education, Theresia Wynns, explained: “In recent years, we have moved players along the lane spaces up and removed excess players along the lane lines. The rationale for changing this rule to its current status is no longer an issue.”
And, finally, there will be a modification in the rules governing uniform additions. Rule 3-5-3 has only permitted arm sleeves and compression long sleeves to be worn with the uniform. With the new rule changes, players will be able to wear tights, as long as they meet color and logo restrictions, and there has also been an expansion of what can be worn on the arm or leg.
The one potential change that would have had a real impact on the game was rejected. A proposal to add a shot clock to the high-school game was not passed. Coaches here in Arizona have approached the Arizona Interscholastic Association about using the shot clock in some tournaments next season, with the idea of eventually working it into regular-season games.
But for now, the shot-clock proposal at the national level is still unable to gain acceptance – despite being put on the table the last five years.