The topic of correctable errors is a little confusing, however, by taking the time to read a little deeper, it is easier than it sounds. The most important thing to know is when an error is correctable, and for that, you have to know what can be corrected. The score is almost always correctable, until the officials jurisdiction ends. Others, are a little more complicated.
By Howard Mayo, OSAA Basketball State Rules Interpreter
The correctable error rule continues to be misunderstood by coaches, players and officials.
There are only five correctable errors under R2‐10 that may be corrected which are:
A. Failure to award a merited free throw.
B. Awarding an unmerited free throw.
C. Permitting a wrong player to attempt a free throw.
D. Attempting a free throw at the wrong basket.
E. Erroneously counting or canceling a score
In order to correct any of the errors listed, the error must be recognized by an official during the
first dead ball after the clock has started. Most errors occur while the ball is dead so the above
criteria would be in effect.
If the error is made while the clock is running and the ball dead, it must be recognized before
the second live ball. Example: Counting or not counting a field goal while the clock is running.
Officials and coaches must remember that there are four sequences of a correctable error
situation. (1) that an error has been made, (2) the clock has started, (3) the ball becomes dead,
(4) the error must be corrected before the ball again becomes live. This means that the official
needs to understand when a ball becomes live. The ball becomes live (a) when on a jump ball,
the ball leaves the official’s hand(s), (b) when on a throw‐in, the ball becomes live when the ball
is at the disposal of the thrower‐in, (c) when on a free throw, the ball is at the disposal of the
When a possible error has been discovered by a coach, the coach is authorized to go to the table
and request the timer to sound the horn at the next dead ball. The officials may also sound their
whistle anytime they discover an error under R2‐10.
If the error is a free throw by the wrong player, or awarded of an unmerited free throw, the free
throw and the activity during it, other than unsportsmanlike, flagrant, intentional or technical
fouls, shall be canceled.
Points scored, consumed time and additional activity, which may occur prior to the recognition
of an error, shall be nullified. Errors because of free throw attempts by the wrong player or at
the wrong basket shall be corrected by applying R8‐1 & 2.
If an error is corrected, play shall be resumed from the point at which it was interrupted to
rectify the error, unless it involves awarding a merited free throw(s) and and there has been
no change of team possession since the error was made, in which case play shall resume as
any free throw attempt(s).
Keep in mind that scorekeeping and mathematical mistakes, arrow and timing mistakes do not
fall under R2‐10. Bookkeeping errors may be corrected anytime up until the approval of the
Correctable errors can usually be prevented by the following officiating practices and proper
1. Table officials should be responsible, mature adults.
2. Game officials must be certain of their pre‐game instructions to the table officials.
3. Table officials must have proper “one and one” table indicators.
4. Officials must use “preventive officiating” by taking the time in making a proper
5. All information reported and received from the table must be done without haste and
clearly understood by all parties.
6. Only official National Federation signals shall be used by officials.
7. Communication and teamwork are excellent preventatives. Make proper use of “the
language of basketball”.
8. Both head coaches should be present for any conference regarding a correctable error.
Case book plays 2.10.1A thru G and 2.10.2, 2.10.4, 2.10.6A and B cover the correctable error
rule. Every official should study these case book plays.
Remember – Don’t Let Them Happen
One easy way to remember the proper administration of correctable errors (when in the prescribed time-frame) is to fix the error and pick up at the point of interruption. There are a few instances where that doesn’t work, like free throws by the wrong player, for instance. But in general, this will get you out of trouble. And, of course, the best thing to do is, “Don’t let them happen.”