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OHSAA Bulletin 1 – Dr. Denny Morris on POE

Posted by | January 8, 2013 .

2012‐13 Basketball Bulletin 1
Denny Morris

There has been much debate and consternation concerning the new NFHS point of emphasis (POE) for elbow contact
above an opponent’s shoulders. I hope this bulletin will assist you with applying this POE as it was intended. We all need
to apply the rule properly and consistently, throughout the basketball season. The information and guidance is taken
directly from the 2012‐2013 NFHS Basketball Rules Book and is presented as the NFHS intended it to be called.

An elbow in motion can be an elbow that is swinging at any speed, whether moving slower, the same speed or faster
than the torso, and can also be an elbow that is held in an illegal position while the player is in motion. An elbow that is
stationary can only be called a foul if the position of the elbow is illegal (outside the frame of the body…think about a
screener with an extended elbow that an opponent makes contact with above his shoulders).

2012‐2013 Points of Emphasis
2. Contact above the shoulders. With a continued emphasis on reducing concussions and decreasing excessive contact
situations, the committee determined that more guidance is needed for penalizing contact above the shoulders.
a. A player shall not swing his/her arm(s) or elbow(s) even without contacting an opponent. Excessive swinging
of the elbows occurs when arms and elbows are swung about while using the shoulders as pivots, and the
speed of the extended arms and elbows is in excess of the rest of the body as it rotates on the hips or on the
pivot foot. Currently it is a violation in Rule 9 Section 13 Article.
b. Examples of illegal contact above the shoulders and resulting penalties.
1. Contact with a stationary elbow may be incidental or a common foul.
2. An elbow in movement but not excessive should be an intentional foul.
3. A moving elbow that is excessive can be either an intentional foul or a flagrant personal foul.

Rule 4, Section 24, Hands and Arms, Legal and Illegal Use
ART. 8 . . . It is not legal to swing arms and elbows excessively. This occurs when:
a. Arms and elbows are swung about while using the shoulders as pivots, and the speed of the extended arms
and elbows is in excess of the rest of the body as it rotates on the hips or on the pivot foot.
b. The aggressiveness with which the arms and elbows are swung could cause injury to another player if
Using this description as a basis, an official will promptly and unhesitatingly rule such action with arms and elbows a

Rule 9, Section 13, Excessive Swinging of Arm(s)/Elbow(s)
ART. 1 . . . A player shall not excessively swing his/her arms(s) or elbow(s), even without contacting an opponent.
ART. 2 . . . A player may extend arm(s) or elbow(s) to hold the ball under the chin or against the body.
ART. 3 . . . Action of arm(s) and elbow(s) resulting from total body movements as in pivoting or movement of the ball
incidental to feinting with it, releasing it, or moving it to prevent a held ball or loss of control shall not be considered

PENALTY: (Section 13) The ball is dead when the violation occurs and is awarded to the opponents for a throw‐in
from the designated out‐of‐bounds spot nearest the violation. (See 6‐7‐9 Exception d)
1) If a player is excessively swinging their elbows, the violation should be called immediately.
If a player is allowed to excessively swing their elbows and it goes on for a few seconds previous to the player contacting
the opposing player, the coach has every right to complain that the violation should have been called previous to the
intentional foul. Obviously, sometimes contact will occur so quickly that the violation could not precede the intentional
2) The need for officials to understand the “Contact with a stationary elbow may be incidental or a common foul.”
statement in the POE.
This means if the player extends his elbow illegally, and an opponent runs into his elbow with the portion of his body
above the shoulders, it can be a common foul. It doesn’t mean that if a player has his elbows in legal position, the player
gets penalized if the opponent contacts his elbow above the shoulders. See 9.13.2 above. If a player extends an elbow
illegally, and holds it in position, and then moves toward an opponent and makes contact with an opponent above the
shoulders, the elbow is considered to be in motion.
3) Obviously, the same POE guidance should be used for defensive players.
Example: A defensive player moving through a screen can also be called for an intentional foul, if an elbow in motion
contacts an offensive player above the shoulders.
4) These are situations that occur a very small percentage of the time, and the application of the penalty is
Any time an elbow is in motion, whether a player is pivoting and the elbow is moving the same speed as the player’s
torso, or the player is swinging his elbows excessively, by definition, and there is contact with an opponent above the
shoulders, it is an intentional foul. If the player was swinging their elbows excessively, by definition, it could be a flagrant

Please let me know if you have any questions or comments.

Thanks to Don Kemper for his assistance in preparing this bulletin.