WNBA Rule Changes for 2013

-- Anti-Flopping Rule and Defensive Three-Seconds Instituted; Three-Point Line Extended –

NEW YORK, Dec. 13, 2012 — The WNBA will implement new rules regarding flopping and defensive three-seconds, while also extending the three-point line, Chief of Basketball Operations and Player Relations Renee Brown announced today following the league’s Board of Governor’s Meeting. The rules will go into effect beginning with the 2013 season.

“Flops that are intended to mislead referees into calling undeserved fouls or fool fans into believing a foul call was missed are a detriment to the game," Brown said. "With that, both the Board of Governors and the Competition Committee felt strongly that a player who, upon video review by the league, is believed to have committed a flop will, after an initial warning, be given an automatic penalty.”

“Flopping” will be defined as any physical act that, upon review, reasonably appears to have been intended to cause the referees to call a foul on another player. 

The primary factor in determining if a player committed a flop is whether her physical reaction to an action by another player (whether or not that action resulted in contact) is inconsistent with what would reasonably be expected given the force, direction, or nature of the action of the other player. An example would be a player who lunges, flails, or falls following minimal or non-existent contact with an opponent.

Physical acts that constitute legitimate basketball plays (such as moving to a spot in order to draw an offensive foul) and minor physical reactions to contact will not be treated as flops.

During preseason games, warning will be given for acts judged to be flops. Any player who is determined to have committed a flop during the regular season will, upon the first offense, receive a warning. Subsequent violations will result in fines of increasing amounts. Beginning with a sixth violation, a player will be subject to a further increased fine and/or suspension.

The league will announce at a later date a separate set of penalties for flopping that will apply during the playoffs.

The three-point line will be extended from 20 feet, 6 1/4 inches to 22 feet, 1 3/4 inches, consistent with the distance inherent in all FIBA competitions. 

“We extended the line to its current distance of 20 feet, 6 1/4 inches in 2004 and our three-point shooting percentage increased,” said Brown. “Since then the talent level and the athleticism of our players has only continued to increase; and with a significant percentage of our players also playing – and excelling – internationally, this brings us into line with the international game. The extended three-point line and defensive three-second rule will create spacing and open up the lane. The improved spacing will create increased  

opportunities for athletic players to drive to the basket and either shoot or pass the ball back out to open players on the perimeter.”

Under the new defensive three-second rule, a violation will result in a technical foul being assessed if a defensive player violates the “actively guarding” guidelines. Following the free throw for the technical foul, the offense will maintain possession of the ball at the free throw line extended.

Slight changes also have been made with regard to the use of instant replay as it pertains to flagrant fouls and the restricted area. Whereas previous rules allowed for replay review of Flagrant Foul 2’s but not Flagrant Foul 1’s, the level of the foul will now be assigned only after the play has been reviewed.  Replay procedures are also being instituted during the final minute of regulation and overtime if officials determine the offensive player committed the illegal contact but are uncertain as to whether the defender was inside or outside the restricted area.