WPH Ref Guidelines + WPH Rules 2015/16 Season

Posted on Jul 27 2013 - 3:22pm by DV

rulesLogo2The WPH has altered some rules not in an attempt to change the fabric of this game, nor to disrespect the Governing Body of the Sport; the United State Handball Association [USHA]; whom has a very firm grip on the rules that we all follow.  The WPH has created some slight changes to move matches along, intended for TV, to be more about the play and less about the referees.  Additionally, the WPH is attempting to gather interest from major networks and mass audiences.  Expect very little Dead-Air time.  By no means are we trying to change the game to spite the USHA; rather, to help promote the game from a TV programming standpoint.

Current Code of Conduct>

Updated: 7.27.2017

Referee Guidelines + WPH Rules

Start Time:

The referee must wait for the signal to start the match from the WPH broadcast team before starting the match on all broadcasted courts


Diffuse all arguments quickly, but do listen to the grievances from the player(s)
Be completely non-confrontational while also being open to the argument
No argument should last longer than 15 seconds

Referee calls hinder

Player A screams, “I wanted that shot, I was in position to hit a kill. That’s horrible.”

Referee gives the player a couple seconds to vent (as long as no vulgar language is used) while not engaging.

Referee (after a couple seconds of listening): (No expression) “I understand what you are saying. I’ll look for it next time. Play resuming. Moreno to serve. 8-5.”



A referee should never say:

Good shot
Great shot
Nice try
Great rally
Or add any other type of commentary
The referee should never make jokes or antagonize a player for any reason. Remember, everything you say is mic’d up and streaming live for the world to hear. A referee can professionally issue a technical warning or a technical, when necessary, when behavior causes embarrassing circumstances for the player and the tour



The referee should dress professionally, always wearing a collared WPH shirt


Be prepared:


A referee should be prepared with:

Extra handballs (opened and pre-warmed up)
Two competent linesman
Knowledge of the Format and Scoring
Knowledge of the player’s playing (small bio announcement for the crowd), to start the match
Enforce all rules, to include:

Foot faults
Time between points
Time between timeouts
Time between games
Time between glove changes
Instant replay, when applicable
Wet gloves (always ask to see them during timeouts and glove changes; between games)
Wet Shirts and Headbands (always ask to see them during timeouts and glove changes; between games)
Judgment calls, to include hinder calls, screens, and bad bounces are left to the discretion of the referee:

The referee should allow the play to develop and always give players a chance to make a play before making a call (unless safety of the players is a concern)
A hinder can always be called late but an early hinder or screen call can eliminate rally-ending opportunities for a player
A referee should not allow a player to take a shot, miss it, and call a hinder (this is not the NBA with the And 1 rule). If a player is given a shot, he/she has to live with the results of that shot
A referee’s job is to be invisible. If no one knows who the ref was at the end of the match, the ref worked a great match


A referee should be able to quiet the crowd or restrain the crowd from unsavory comments, when applicable


Referee Responsibilities:


Announce the player’s name, ranking, and place of residence before starting the match
Enforce equipment changes (gloves, headband, shirt) during player timeouts and in between games
Do not allow players to tie and retie shoes during the play unless the shoelaces are actually untied (player will be charged a timeout if he reties shoelaces that are not untied; if no time outs remain, opponent will be awarded one point
Call court hinders (see hinder section)
Appoint line judges that are not drinking and/or texting. If none can be found then there are no line judges and we will resort to the broadcast booth for replays (not optimal/only as a last resort)
A player cannot leave the court before explaining to the referee; and being granted access to; the departure.  Leaving too soon equals a time out loss or added point to opponent score (if out of timeouts)


Excessive arguing (referee judgment): Technical (loss of point)
Leaving the court without announcing a reason: Technical (loss of point)
Three technical violations: Forfeiture from the tournament
When the referee calls the score the ball is in play. Talking/arguing or not returning the serve will result in a point for the server
Not being prepared when a time between games has been called/start of the match/following a timeout/following a glove change: Charged a timeout. If a player does not have any timeouts remaining: Technical (loss of point)
*Note, the referee’s discretion enables he or she to call a technical on “anything considered to be unsportsmanlike behavior” (Rule 4.9 A 9). This can include but is not limited to excessive stalling, unnecessarily wiping the floor, consistently not being prepared to receive the serve, abuse of appeal privileges, profanity, excessive arguing, excessive or hard striking of the ball between rallies, failing to improperly wear eye protection and abuse of appeal privileges
Official Ball + Scoring:


Official ball of all R48: R48 Ball
Official ball of all WR48: 21 Red
Official ball of all SR48: R48 Ball
All R48 main draw matches: 15-15-15, win by two in all games
All WR48 main draw matches: 15-15-15, win by two in all games
All SR48 main draw matches: one game to 25, win by two
All Playoff matches in R48, WR48, and SR48: one game to 25, win by two. *Note: All non-TV playoff matches will not have a referee for all R48, WR48 or SR48


15-point games: players are given two 60-second timeouts per game and one 30-second timeout per game
21-point games: players are given three 60-second timeouts per game
11-point tiebreakers: players are given two 60-second timeouts per game
25-point games: players are given three 60-second timeouts per game, plus a 3-minute halftime when the first player reaches 15 points

Instant Replay:


Players can ask for video replay only if lines-people are working the match
The referee must make the official request to the booth for an instant replay
Players are given one incorrect instant replay challenge per game (11, 15, 21, or 25). If instant replay upholds the call or is inconclusive, the player has lost his or her replay challenge for that game. Unused replay challenges do not carry over to the next game
Allowable appeals to instant replay: short serve, foot fault, skip/non-skip
Referee judgment calls cannot be appealed, to include hinders, avoidable hinders, screens, ball making it to the wall/not making it to the wall
Bad Bounces:


The referee calls all slides and bad bounces: No appeals to instant replay for bad bounces
If the referee is positioned above the court and cannot see the back wall, the referee can appeal to a linesman with a better view of the back wall. The linesman must be absolute in his determination that a bad bounce occurred for a bad bounce to be enforced
Only the offensive player can call for a bad bounce. If the defensive player (non-hitting player) calls for a bad bounce, that player loses the point

Offensive player has a back wall setup, but the ball takes a bad bounce. If the defensive player calls “bad bounce,” the defensive player has lost the rally. The offensive player can play the shot or stop play and ask for a bad bounce

An offensive player can play a shot immediately after a bad bounce, but that player cannot hit the shot and miss it and ask for a bad bounce. Once the shot has been struck, the bad bounce possibility has been eliminated


Hinders + Avoidable Hinders



Referee should allow the play to develop before calling a hinder unless a safety issue arises
Contact does not facilitate a hinder in many cases; a setup, a rally shot that is unaffected by the contact
Avoidable Hinders:

Examples of avoidable hinders include:

Server backing into a revolving door shot and taking away the shot
“Showing” your opponent a shot and stepping in front of the shot as the shot is being hit
Making contact with your opponent while he/she is swinging or following through
Crossing the line of the ball to return to the center of the court. ie if a player is stuck on the left side wall and crosses the ball to return to the center of the court
Audible hinders are avoidable hinders. This includes talking during a rally. If the player calls two bounces he cannot appeal his own call because the play was dead as soon as he talked during the play, whether he picked up the ball on one or two bounces is irrelevant
*If a player hits a rally ending shot and calls a double bounce, he can appeal his own call. For example, player A dives and hits a flat kill but calls a double bounce on himself. If the referee determines that the shot was in fact rally-ending and the line judges determined the ball was retrieved on one bounce, the shot will be considered good
*There is no such thing as an “Avoidable warning.” A ref that gives an “avoidable warning” will be given a non-avoidable fine from the tournament committee
Player Warm-up:

Referee will allow players 10 minutes to warm-up on the court in which they are playing once the court has become available. Players are encouraged to warm-up on adjacent courts if they do not feel that 10 minutes is sufficient


The referee is responsible for ensuring that handballs are warmed up in the case of handballs breaking in the middle of matches
The back-up game balls should be opened, used during warm-ups, and ready immediately upon a ball needing to be replaced
Players will be given a maximum of 30 seconds to restart play after a new ball is placed into the court
Potential Referee Questions and Situations

What can the referee do in these situations:

(Answers from the head of the Rules Committee)

1.   Excessive diving: The referee determines the player is excessively diving to create stalling opportunities to lie on the ground and subsequently wipe the floor

For example: diving for a ball once the ball is already past him or diving for a ball once the ball has already bounced twice

Rule 4.9 Technical(s) A. 9).  This is unsportsmanlike delay of game.  You can give a technical warning, or warn him/her before the tourney match starts and let them know you know what he/she is doing and to stop it. Or, you can warn him/her and then fine them $100 for every flop.  That would be an association decision, not rule book decision. The NBA does it now.

***The WPH has now adopted this “Delay of Game,” rule.  $100 fine will be implemented for Unsportsmanlike Delay of game.  This penalty can be assessed by the referee or WPH Administrators at the time of the play in question, or before the event ends after reviewing the match.  A player cannot appeal this ruling during the match, but can appeal to the WPH rules committee after the tournament ends.


Player leaves the court for an injury timeout but never announces the injury to the referee
If he left the court without ref’s ok and/or calling a time out, Rule 3.4 Referee D. Forfeitures 3) Leaving the court says he/she forfeits the match.  If the ref lets him/her leave, then the ref must have known it was because the player wanted a regular time out, or an injury time out. The ref is culpable here, he/she should know something!  If a regular time out, then after one minute the ref is to invoke Rule 3.4 Referee D Forfeitures 4) b. Late start penalty.  If none of this applies and you’re stuck at a situation, do what is fair, which probably is to acknowledge the injury and estimate the amount of time the player took, charge it to an injury time out and carry on from there

Player takes an injury timeout for a pre-existing injury
Not allowed.

4.   Returner of serve was provided with a reasonable amount of time to return the serve, the referee calls the score but after the score is called, the returner of serve turns around to say he/she was not ready to return

After a rally, the receiver has a maximum of 10 seconds to assume the position to return serve, not reasonable time.  The receiver gets to say whether he wants all 10 or less than that.  It is up to the ref to learn the idiosyncrasies of the players to make a food faith determination when they are in position.  At 10 seconds, regardless of the receiver’s position, the ref should call the score. After a fault serve, then the receiver has reasonable time and not 10 seconds.  In your example, if in fact the receiver was not ready, the ref should be sympathetic to that and stop play and get it right.

5.    Player excessively towels the floor after each rally, including parts of the floor on the other side of the court from which he/she dove.

Go back to the first question.  Unsportsmanlike delay of game.  The ref is in charge here. He/she should be directing the wipe activity and calling for the towel.  The players have the right to a dry court, but the ref decides if the court needs wiping. And note that the maximum time allowed for wiping is two minutes, it does not say the players have the right to two minutes.  The ref gets to decide how much time he/she wants to give for this. If the player wants to wipe in a different spot, then he/she should ask permission.  Max time for an equipment time out is also two minutes, but the referee can make this time shorter; it is not required for the player to take two minutes for a headband, for example.  Additionally, during a towel time out, both players shall remain on the court.  Any player leaving the court has to get permission from the referee.  Delay of game if they leave before being allowed to.

6.    Player either intentionally or unintentionally wets his gloves by placing the gloves on his/her sweaty shorts, legs or head

Unintentional, simple equipment timeout. Intentional, purposeful delay of game: technical.

7.     The player takes more than one minute for a timeout

Once again Rule 3.4 Referee D Forfeitures 4) b. Late start penalty

8.     The player takes more than one minute for a timeout with no timeouts remaining

Same as above, no extra penalty to invoke because he has none left. The ref is dealing with the time out he/she did have, not one he doesn’t have.

9.    The player’s parents, fans or spouse is sitting next to the referee influencing the referee’s calls and judgments. For example, the player’s father is sitting next to the referee urging the referee to call foot faults on his son’s/daughter’s opponents and influencing hinder calls against his son’s/daughter’s opponent…

The ref can kick out that person.  See Rule 5.6 Tournament conduct.  In fact, if your Tournament Director or Chief of Referees sees this happening, he/she should remove that abusing spectator.

10. Player dives and lays on the floor for an additional 10-20 seconds before asking for the towel, accumulating 45-60 seconds of delay.

More of the same, but is this systemic behavior?  If the ref wants to be a stickler, he/she can strictly interpret Rule 4.1 Serve E. Time.  He/she can say the receiver’s 10 seconds have elapsed, and then call the score, then say the server’s 10 seconds have elapsed and therefore side out.  But the ref has to know the rule and enforce it fairly, including giving a heads up by calling the score in there somewhere.

11. Returning player overly-inspecting/ask for the ball from the server in an attempt to disrupt the rhythm of the server.

More delay of game.  Nowhere does the player have the right to do any of that.  He/she can ask the ref to inspect the ball; the ref doesn’t have to inspect it.

12. Obvious stalling: The referee determines that a player is intentionally stalling because he/she is trying to break the rhythm of his opponent or to recover from long rallies.

Simple knowledge and use of Rule 4.1 Serve E. Time and Rule 3.4 D Forfeitures 4) b Late start penalty helps solve this behavior


1.     Is a back spasm considered a cramp?

I’m not a doctor, but aren’t spasms pretty much a cramp, caused by one’s condition and/or state of hydration?  That’s something he/she brought to the court with him and not an injury.  If you have a doctor there who says the spasms are an injury, then that’s what it is.

2.    What exactly is the “reasonable amount of time” given to the server and the receiver after the referee calls point or side out? Does the “reasonable amount of time” have to be 10 seconds, or could the “reasonable amount of time” be less than 10 seconds. For example, server serves a crack ace right in front of the returner, neither the server nor the returner moved more than a foot during the one-shot rally. Does the referee need to wait 10 seconds to call the score?

No, doesn’t have to be 10 seconds. 10 seconds is the maximum, therefore reasonable would be less than that. Reasonable is designed for the server, where he/she has to go and get the ball.  If the receiver assumes his/her position very quickly, the ref does not have to give the score at that time, he can wait for the server to get the ball.  This assumes the server is going about to retrieve the ball in an orderly and reasonable manner.  Also, after a fault serve, the receiver does not have a new 10 seconds to assume his position, he has reasonable time to do so. Nothing has happened except to retrieve the ball, so the receiver does not have anything to recover from.  In your example, no, the ref does not have to give the 10 seconds again, same reason as the last sentence

3.   Can a catchall rule be implemented: anything that’s unsportsmanlike or delay of tourney as deemed by the tourney directors results in a technical, a deduction, or a forfeiture.

Already there, I think you’ll see that all the above rules mentioned will work in your favor to achieve what you’re looking for.