Elbow contact was a major point of emphasis several years ago… time to revisit how the NFHS rules this contact.


Several years ago, there was a major point of emphasis on elbow contact.  Recently, I have had discussions with other officials and there seems to be some hesitation in how we rule on this contact.  Is it a common foul?  Intentional Foul?  Flagrant Foul?


Here is part of an article written by Billy Martin from Ref60.com.

In a scholastic contest, B1 grabs the rebound from A1’s try for goal.  After gaining control of the rebound she pivots and swings her elbows high (but not excessively) and accidentally makes contact with B2 on the back if her head.  The contact resulted in B2 falling to the floor.


What is your ruling in this high school contest?


To help clean up these types of plays in 2012 the NFHS issued a “Point of Emphasis” (POE) on “Contact Above the Shoulders.”  It focused on illegal contact from a moving elbow where such contact was above the shoulders.


The NFHS emphasized this contact would result in either an INTENTIONAL foul or FLAGRANT foul – based on specific criteria.


The ultimate goal was to reduce the frequency of concussions and decrease excessive contact situations.  It also helped to align with the efforts of the NCAA (and even NBA) to reign in these types of illegal contact situations.


Move forward to 2013-14 where NFHS further clarified in a POE the two varieties of this contact.


  • Rule an INTENTIONAL Foul when contact above the shoulders is NOT the result of EXCESSIVELY SWINGING the ELBOWS – but in past seasons might have been ruled a common player control foul.
  • Rule a FLAGRANT Foul when contact above the shoulders is the result of EXCESSIVELY SWINGING the ELBOWS.


Remember, in scholastic contests, when a player “excessively swings” their elbows, at a minimum, a violation should be ruled even if NO CONTACT is made.  If the contact is the result of excessive swinging prior to the official stopping play (for a violation) then a flagrant foul may be ruled – unless the contact is judged to be “slight of nature.”

Continue Reading at Ref60.com


Watch the video below – Considering Billy Martin’s article, what would be the correct ruling in this play?