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Definition of "protecting a dribble"


(5th grade girls rec)
The last two weeks, but this week in particular, there has been an issues with pg's leading with the off arm. I know the player has a right to "protect" the dribble, but 3 lead elbows to the neck doesn't seem to fit the description of that. When I told the officials, they both said the player has a right to protect the dribble.
My question is this-- what is the actual rule? Does the location of contact- high or low- impact the "protect"? I usually see guards protect against reaching, but if my player has good position and is sliding in front, hands out, , is it legal to catch an elbow to the neck as  the guard approaches them?
FYI- 2 of the elbows got called blocks, while my player feel to the floor crying. The third was a no call. This also didnt effect the outcome so Im not protesting, just looking for clarity. Thanks.

Director of Officials:
There is no rule about protecting the dribble.  I assume this is younger kids since you said they were crying.  Younger kids seem to do this while they are dribbling but normally figure it out as they get older. 

The dribbler is not allowed to push off but I guess the answer might be who created the contact? 
If you have video and would like to send to bkelleyok@gmail.com it might be easier to see?

5th grade girls

I do not have a video.
I wouldn't say it was a push off. It was dribbling into a sliding defender in front of them. Basically once they got within 1 foot of each other, the elbow went up and was the leading the dribbller into the defender. I understand there can be body contact in these spots too that cause confusion for the refs to figure out.

So just to clarify, if the offense intiates the contact it's offensive, if the defense does it's defensive.
And the offensive player can never initiate contact to "protect" a dribble?

Thanks for the quick response. I know trying to figure out something you didnt see is very complicated.

Director of Officials:
That sounds like a pretty good definition on what I would call.  Unfortunately, we are all human and maybe don't see it the exact same way but as a general rule - I agree with how you interpreted it.  Not gonna lie, officiating some 5th grade girls basketball can be more difficult than officiating High School Basketball a lot of the time.  And I had a 5th grade girls basketball player at one time well!   


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