Every official basketball game needs an official scorebook. No matter what the level of basketball being played, both teams are required to have someone who knows how to keep a basketball scorebook.
The official scorer for the game is the individual who keeps the scorebook for the home team. He or she is seated at the the scorer’s table. The visiting team is allowed to have a person seated at the scorer’s table to keep their scorebook. The official score keepers have a big responsibility, but not one to be afraid of.
The officials signal each time a field goal is made and whether it was a two point or three point basket. They also signal fouls and free throws. So you must watch the officials more than watching the game. That is why a lot of parents and fans have a time keeping score! 🙂
The official scorebook of the home team is the official record of the running score of the game, the individual point totals, personal fouls, technical fouls, and team fouls. The scoreboard that is displayed in the gymnasium is NOT official.
If there is a discrepancy between the scoreboard and the home team’s official scorebook, the scorebook prevails. The game clock and scoreboard operator should communicate closely with the official scorekeeper to make sure that the scoreboard reflects what is recorded on the scorebook.
Here is a step-by-step guide on how to keep a basketball scorebook. We will emphasize the official scorebook, but any fan can keep their own at the game or when watching at home to add to the enjoyment. The official scorer must use their teams’ season’s scorebook. Anyone else doesn’t need an official book. You can make your own basketball score sheet.
Prepare your materials and pregame information:
To keep a scorebook, you will need a pen or pencil, a notebook, a scorebook specifically designed for basketball, and a basic knowledge of the rules of the game.
Before the game starts, make sure to:
- Write the date, location, and the team name for the two teams playing. This information is recorded at the top of the scorebook.
- Write down the names of the players and uniform numbers for your team, along with indicating the starting five. Copy the names and numbers from the opposing team from their scorebook. Allow their scorekeeper to do the same with yours. The coaches are required to report the starting five players for each team to the official scorer. Often, the visiting team’s coach will report to his or her scorekeeper who will then relay the information to the official scorer.
- There are areas on the score page to have the officials sign their names, to write the names of the coaches, and to fill in your name as the scorer.
Now, you are prepared for the game to tip off!
In Game Scoring Responsibilities
Remember, that even if you have ties to one of the teams or to some of the players in the game, you must be neutral. You cannot cheer, question officials, leave while the game is in progress, or check you phone. You must be focus only on the game!
Keeping track of the team score and the individual points scored is the main reason for keeping a scorebook. There are other responsibilities as well. Here is what you need to know:
- Write down the running score after each basket is made. There is a section on the scoresheet for easily recording the running score.
- When a player makes a field goal, the game officials will signal two or three-point shot. However, they do not indicate the number of the player who scored. That is up to the official scorer to determine. That is another reason why the visiting team have a person at the scorers table. The official scorer can ask for help on who scored, but the final decision on what player to credit the points to rests with the official scorer. Mark a “2” or a “3” in the row for the player who scored and in the correct quarter of the game.
- Before a player makes a free throw attempt, draw an open circle in the row for that player and in the quarter of play. If it is a one and one free throw situation, write a plus next to the circle. If the player makes the free throw, color in the circle.
- When the quarter ends (or the half end for college men’s games), record the total team points for both teams.
To clarify, you do not record every field goal that is attempted. You only record the field goals that are made. But, you do record free throws attempted and free throws made.
The end of each quarter is also a good time to compare with the scoreboard operator and the other team’s scorebook keeper to make sure everyone’s records match.
Other In Game Recording Responsibilities
If you are keeping an unofficial scorebook, you might want to also record assists, rebounds, total field goals attempted, or steals. Those are the responsibilities of the team’s statisticians and not the responsibility of the person keeping the official game scorebook.
- The scorebook has a place to record the quarters in the game that each player played. It is important to have this correct as most levels of play have a limit on how many quarters a player can play in one day and in one season. When a player enters the game, or starts a quarter, be sure to record that in the scorebook.
- If a player is going to substitute into the game, they will report to you and give you their number. Write down the player’s number, the quarter, and the game time remaining in the quarter in your notebook. This is important because a player is not allowed to leave the game and then come back in without any time having gone off the game clock. At times, the officials will refer to the person keeping the official scorebook to verify if a player is eligible to return or not.
- When an official calls a foul, they will blow their whistle to stop play. They will then will signal the number of the player who was assessed the foul. Put a slash mark for the number of each foul committed by an individual player. You should also note if the foul is a personal foul or a technical foul. A technical foul also counts as a personal foul and a team foul. There is a space for a technical foul that is assessed to either coaching staff.
- At the bottom of the page there will be a row to keep track of team fouls. Each time a foul is assessed to an individual, you must also record it toward the team fouls total.
- When a team calls a time-out, make sure to write down the quarter and the time remaining in the quarter. The official book is the official record of time-outs called. Normally during a timeout, the officials will ask the official scorekeeper how many timeouts each team has remaining to use. They will then report the timeouts remaining to the coaches of both teams.
You should say out loud every time you record something. That allows the other team’s scorer as well as the scoreboard operator to know what the official counts are.
Post Game Scorebook Responsibilities
- The scorebook needs to be totaled at the end of the game so that the coaches have a record of the game.
- Total the number of two point baskets, three point baskets, free throws attempted, free throws and individual points for players on both teams. There is a column for each of these in the scorebook.
- The home team and visiting team scorebooks should be compared to make sure that all points, fouls, quarters played, and free throws match. If there is a media representative covering the game, they might want to compare their scorebook with yours to have an accurate report.
- .Make sure that the scorebook is given to one of the coaches from your team.
Keeping the official scorebook at basketball games is an important, but thankless job. The only time most people notice the person keeping the scorebook is if there is a mistake or a problem. But keep in mind, an official game cannot be played unless there is an official scorebook.
You are doing a great service to the players and coaches by keeping a basketball scorebook. They might not thank you, but you get a big thank you from us! Both for your service and for reading our article!