basketball rules

Basketball rules is a comprehensive guide that’s aimed at showing readers all about basic basketball rules for kids, youth, and then basketball traveling rules to help them improve on the game.

Basketball game has since 1891 evolved into a great sport played around the world for pleasure and fun. A lot of country ever since the game started has adopted basketball and they include: Asia, Britain, Germany, Spain, Russia, and Malysia. Though these countries are known and resounding to the sport, the major country where basketball is played is America. In America, basketball has the best major league and it’s the most lucrative league in the world that pays huge for both players and coaches. Thus: the NBA (National Basketball Association)

Objective of the Game

Basketball objective is to throw the ball (basketball) which is to drop into the hoop and earn a point for the player. Just like other “ball over net” category of sports, this game is played on a regular rectangular court. The points you score on a basketball will solely depend on which side of the court you successfully throw a ball into the basket. To move a ball around the court, you have to dribble or pass the ball. To win a game in basketball, your team will have to score more points than your opponent at the end of the game.


In the game of basketball, there are just three scoring numbers for basketball players. To score three points, you will have to score outside the three point arc on any basket.  When a basket is scored from within the three point arc means two points are scored. When you succeed with a free throw into the basket, then you have won 1 point and for every successful score from free throw, a point is scored. How many free throws a team gets, will depend on where the opposition team committed a foul.

Winning a Game

Winning a basketball game is quite simple: your team simply will have to score more points than your opponents in the games time frame. When a games score is tied at the end, then there will be an extra quarter which is played until a winner emerges.

Basic rules of Basketball

  1. Every basketball team must have a maximum of 5 players on the court at any given time. The teams can make as many substitutions as they wish on the game
  2. A basketball will only be moved around either by passing the ball around the court or dribbling it against your opponent.(bouncing the ball). A player must dribble with one hand. Once a ball is dribbled with two hands, the ball can no longer be dribbled or moved by the player and thus must shot or passed to the next free and available team mate or be penalized
  3. After a ball moves around a team’s half, the team will have to make it back over the other half before 10 seconds once the regain possession after the first move. If the team fails to move into the opponent’s half court, then they simply commits a foul and the ball is at once turned over.
  4. When the game starts, each time is given atleast 24 seconds to aim and shot at the basket. There are two ways the shots are achieved; one is by hitting the iron rim of the basket. The second is by going close to the basket. If the shooter fails to aim rightly at the basket, then the shooting time will be restarted for another 24 seconds.
  5. The offensive team is the team trying to score in the basket while the defensive team is the team preventing a score from happening. The games sweetness is for the defensive team to try everything possible to prevent the offensive team from scoring a point. This happens by blocking a shot and preventing the shot from being fired.
  6. After every successful basket is played, the ball will be turned over to the opposition side.
  7. When fouls are committed in a game, it gets accumulated for a certain number of fouls to be attained and this will result in a free throw been awarded to the opposition side. A free throw occurs when a team’s player from the offensive team (the fouled player) takes a shot which will be unopposed from the free throw line direction. The amount or number of free throws a player is awarded depends on the location of the fouls committed.
  8. There are lots of violations in basketball which includes: “taking way more than a step without having the ball bounced”. This is called (Travelling) in the sport. “Picking the ball up dribbling, taking a stop before starting to dribble again with two hands”, this is called (double dribble). Another one is when a” basketball defender comes in contact with a travelling ball going towards the basket”, it’s also called (Goaltending). Finally, “once the ball gets past the half way line of the court, then the offensive team is not expected to return the ball over the  half way line”, we call this (Back Court Violation)
  9. Once a player is having the ball, he cannot stay in the foul ring of the court having his back to the basket for three seconds or even more.
  10. When a ball is passing through the basket, no player is expected to touch the ball, basket or its rims.
  11. A player cannot obstruct an offensive player who is trying to make a goal or pass the ball, but a brief contact is allowed.
  12. When a basketball player commits more than five fouls, they are removed from the game.
  13. A player that’s surrounded by opposition within one meter radius while trying to withhold the ball, the ball shouldn’t be in their possession for more than five seconds. Once the five seconds is elapsed, the player is considered to be close guarded.
  14. An offensive team player shouldn’t be found in the areas of an opposing team which is restricted for three seconds or more.
  15. When an offensive team has the ball, they are expected to shot the ball before the shot time elapses.

Read Also : basketball positions

10 Basic Basketball Rules For Kids and Youths

In basketball, there are a lot of violations and fouls that kids commit which their youth basketball coaches should teach them as beginners or starters. But in rare cases the coaches tend to start off by teaching their basketball kids the main 10 basic basketball rules for kids. The strongest basketball foundations and fundamentals a kid can get is instilling it into them at a young age, because it’s the key to their development.

When young players begin to advance in age, the technicalities of basketball sports gets harder as well as the basic rules of basketball changes. Before a kid can start basketball fully, there are basic rules he/she must learn and grow from making attempts to fully understanding the highest level of play. Even you as a coach, you need to learn these rules because knowing them will help you teach your kids and youths the core fundamentals of basketball.

Your hardest jobs as a basketball coach can range from getting youth basketball players from dribbling the ball improperly to committing a foul. Now with the rules in place, your job becomes easier and simple. Instill these following 10 basic basketball rules for kids and youths.

Read Also: rules of basketball

The following rules apply:

Scoring: At the start, beginners are not required to shot a lot of 3-pointers, but you must put them in a mind frame that tells them that a free-throw is at least worth a point. Also that a field goal worth two points, and then the 3-pointers goal is worth the exact match of 3 points.

Tip-off/jump ball: Tell them that the basketball starts with two opposing opponents in the center of the court where the circle is located, where each of the players will jump up to tip the basketball that the referee tossed up. Any team that doesn’t game the tip off, will gain the possession arrow, then they will be rewarded with the basketball the next time they are tied up between opposing players. On every jump ball situation, the teams will switch off with possession arrow or at the half or beginning of the quarter. At the start of an overtime period, a jump ball will be used again. During overtime periods, a possession arrow will be used.

Dribbling Violations:  Before you can move the ball around, it’s a must to dribble it. Dribbling in basketball is the word that is used to describe when you bounce the ball and move the ball around without making use of both hands or picking it up. When you pick up the ball or use both hands again, this is called double dribble and other team is rewarded the ball. To achieve a good dribble, you should keep your hand on top of the ball.

Personal fouls: Players should have control of herself/himself and will draw a foul for actions such as holding pushing, slapping and tripping as well as hitting the ball. Any player that attracts 5 fouls in a single game is disqualified and fouls can be called on both the defender and offender (the NBA uses foul points)

Charging/blocking: The referees usually have a hard time to determine these fouls committed by the players. Like in the case of a “charge” in basketball. It’s an offensive foul which is committed by a player pushing or running over a defensive player. With this situation, the ball will be awarded to the defense. In front of the offensive player, a defender must establish a great position and upon any contact, the defender will be called for making a block on the offensive player.

Foul shot violation: Until the ball hits the rim, no player can enter the foul lane on a free-throw.

Out of Bounds: Every basketball court is played on a large rectangle field. Both the player and the ball should not touch the outside line of the rectangle. This is called out of bounds.  Should there be a throw in, the ball is then thrown in from out of bounds but once the ball is in play, it doesn’t return there. At this stage you can step over the line without incurring any penalty if you don’t have the ball.

Shooting: The ball must go through the basket to be considered a score. We have three different places a player must take a shot from, in order to gain different points. When standing behind the big arc around the basket called the three point line, and successfully make it into the basket, you will then earn three huge points. Every other direction which is in front of the arc will earn you a two points. The free-throw line is the third place that you should aim to earn a point from. Every free-throw makes you a point once you are fouled and start to shot free throws.

Fouls: When you come in contact with the person with the ball, it is called a foul. When guarding a player with the ball, you shouldn’t hit them or touch them. Away from the ball, a foul can still be committed. Tripping, Shoving, Hitting are all know as foul in basketball and they are not part of a successful play in the game.

Picking up Your Dribble: When dribbling the ball and you make a decision to pick up the ball, there should only be one step movement. Any foot that you choose not to step with should and must remain on the floor. Should you move the remaining foot, it will be deemed as travel and it’s a violation in basketball. This usually rewards the opposing team the ball to start. There’s only one option which is for you to pivot or pass the ball to your team make once you pick it up. Pivoting simply means, you can have your planted foot circled or rotated around, but it must not come off the ground or slide.

See also: basketball rules for beginners

Personal Fouls

Even though this game is seen as a sport which doesn’t allow contact among players on the floor, if really you have participated in the sports or watched it closely, you will agree with me that contact is simply not the case.

There is no way the players on the floor wouldn’t make a contact on each other in a game that has 10 good players who are competing to take advantage over their rivals with very high intensity.

Now, whats is the difference in legal contact and games that records foul play?

Once a player on the floor makes an illegal contact against his opponent, a foul is called and that will definitely result in an advantage for the fouled player and their teammate.

Live play will immediately be paused, once the referrer calls a foul. The team that will be in charge of the fouls is solely dependent on a lot of factors which I will try to cover for a broader understanding of personal fouls.

Below is just the most common personal fouls types that I have come across:

1.      Reaching In

When a defending player goes or reaches in to steal the ball after which he illegally contact their opponent player, a foul will be called.

In this case, the most common contact that usually occurs is that the defender slaps the arm of the dribbler or even his wrist.

2.      Holding

Should a player use his hands or arms to limit or prevent his opponents movement around the court, a holding foul will be called immediately.

3.      Blocking

When a player makes use of their body to prevent or limit their opponents from moving on the floor without a proper establishment of position, a blocking foul will be called.

4.      Charging

Again, when a defending player establishes a position and an offensive player runs into them, there will be a call for charging foul.

And with or without being in position of the basketball, this can happen.

5.      Pushing

When the arm of a player is extended with force in order to move an opponent on the floor, a pushing foul is called.

6.      Illegal Screen

When an offensive player that is setting a screen on a defensive player does not establish his position well when an opposition comes in contact with them, an illegal screen will be called.

Special Fouls

I have duplicated the definitions below from the books of NFHS high school basketball rules. it wasn’t easy to do because I struggled a lot to grab the definitions of the special fouls which took time.

Below you have them:

1.      Technical Foul

We often see a technical foul if a player or his coach abruptly disrepute the game of basketball which at the time it happens, is not in relation to contact.

The actions that could cause technical foul includes: flopping of the ball, kicking of the basketball, making use of insubordinate languages, yelling at the referee, as well as hanging on the basketball rim after dunking, and so on..

A player or a coach will be rejected and required to stay out of the floor when they have committed two technical fouls.

Penalty: 1 or 2 free-throws should be made (depending on the league) for any opposition player standing on the court/floor and then possession.

2.      Flagrant Foul

A flagrant foul may likely be considered a technical or personal foul of a savage or violent nature, or even a technical noncontact foul which is seen as unacceptable conduct. Though it may or not be intentional.

Flagrant foul can include some physical actions like kicking, pushing, as well as hitting another player.

Penalty: 1 or 2 free-throws is to be made (depending on the league) for any opposition player who is standing on the floor/court and then possession.

3.      Unsportsmanlike Foul

When we say unsporting foul, it is also a non-contact technical type of foul that consists of unethical, dishonorable and unfair conduct or a behavior that’s deemed violent and wouldn’t promote spirit fair play.

Penalty: 1 or 2 free-throws which is made (depending on the league) for any opposition player playing on the court/floor and then possession.

4.      Intentional Foul

Talking about intentional fouls, it is a technical or personal foul which is likely not be or not premeditated and solely not based on the actions severity.

Penalty: 1 or 2 free-throws is to be made (depending on the league) for any opposition player on the court/floor and then possession.

Read also : different basketball rules for youth


The most misunderstood and a common rule you must have come across is the basketball traveling rules.  The object of the traveling rule to ensure that players do not gain unduly advantage over their opponents by running with the ball without dribbling.  Traveling is a very big violation in basketball that attracts a penalty of free-throw to the opposing team and it takes place out of bounds very close to where the foul happened.

Basic Rule

The “pivot foot” is where basketball rules for traveling got its basic concept. If a player receives the ball or he picks up his dribble, then he can move a foot and allow then remaining foot to be on the floor known as the pivot foot. As long as ball having the foot remains on the floor, then the pivot foot will be allowed to rotate. When the pivot foot is moved and returned to the floor before the ball is released on a shot or pass, this is where travel occurs in basketball. For example, when a player gets a pass from his team mate and jumps with both of his feet in an attempt for a shot and gets back to floor without shooting, his movement will be considered a travel.

Jump Stop

Jump stop is part of traveling with a rule which gives a player the chance to make a jump stop movement and could be valuable when a player tries to change directions immediately in accordance with traveling rule, when a player jumps up one foot when in possession of the ball, he may likely get down on two feet and make use of one as pivot foot or even jump off again with both feet just before shooting or passing the ball. Again, should the player jump off one foot and then returns have the both feet to the floor at slightly different times, and then it’s a travel because the first foot will be seen as the pivot foot.


Basketball has a very big time rule that cannot be covered enough and everything in the game has to do with time. The picture of basketball is to score more points within a time frame.  Understanding the time rules of basketball is very necessary, regardless of your level of play watching, playing or coaching. The timing is different for college basketball rules, high school basketball rules, and professional basketball rule.

Three-second rule: As an offensive player, you shouldn’t stand in the lane for over 3 seconds of play. (We call this key or paint). If the offensive player commits this foul, the ball will be awarded to the defender. a league may allow the youngest basketball levels of players to have a five seconds rule.

Five-second violation: The passer should pass the basketball within five seconds on an inbound play else the ball gets awarded to the defender. When an offensive player gets guarded by the defensive players, he should not have the ball for more than 5 seconds without passing, shooting or even dribbling the ball.

Ten-second violation: While you move the basketball up and in the backcourt, boys basketball team are given just 10 seconds to ensure the ball is moved over the line of the midcourt. if the offensive player commits a foul, the defensive player is rewarded with a free-throw. This rule is not obtainable in every single level of the girls basketball.

Game length:  High school basketball rules has four quarters which lasts eight minutes each.  College basketball rules, ensures there is a two 20 minutes halves. There are two basketball games which are divided into 12-minute quarters.  The periods of the game varies according to levels overtime. Over time high school has four minutes. In the NBA and college, there is 4 minutes of overtime periods.

Starting and stopping clock: When a player touches the ball, it gets started once the referee tosses the ball for a jump shot. Once that is done, the ball can only stop when the referee whistles for a foul, a timeout or violation of the rules. when there is an usual delay, the ball can as well be stopped by the referee, things like when the ball rolls off the floor of the court or away from the play as well as when there is an injured player. After a throw-in when the ball touches inbounds, the ball restarts. The ball will also restart if a player touches the ball on rebound after there was a free-throw.

End of Game Rules:

During the last minute of the second half and overtime periods in high school and college after a made basket, the clock stops and restarts once a player gets touch of the ball inbounds after an ensuing throw-in. Timing rules always change at the end of each game. In the national basketball association league, you only get this rule in the last two minutes of fourth quarter and any other periods. The rule is different from the high school basketball. In this situation a basketball is only counted when the ball leaves the player’s hand or the time expires while the ball is still in air, and the ball eventually goes through the hoop.

Last Shot Rule:

Playing in college and high school basketball, if you have three-tenths of a second or less left on your time, the players may not shoot nor catch the ball for a successful goal. A player may only deflect the ball or tap it into the basket for the shot to be a counted. So it’s time to make use of these 10 basic basketball rules for kids, youth, and beginners of all level

See Also : Rules in Playing basketball


If you are eagerly searching for basketball rules to start your game on the court, this one is handy and detailed to the core. I doubt you will ever come up with a better rules book than this.