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Basketball Rules

Play Regulations

Aims &Teams

Basketball is played by two teams who score points by throwing a ball into the opposing team's basket. The team who scores the most points are the winners.

Each team has a squad of 12 players to choose from. Five of those players are allowed on the court at any one time, with unlimited substitutions.

Players can move the ball around the court by passing, tapping, throwing, rolling or dribbling.


The game consists of four quarters of 10 minutes each, with a 15-minute break at half-time.

There are also two-minutes interval between the first and second periods, and between the third and fourth periods.

If the game is tied after the fourth period, it continues with an extra period of five minutes, then as many five-minute periods as are necessary to break the tie.


The main officials include one referee and one umpire.

The court is divided between them and they swap places after each foul involving a free throw penalty, as well as after each jump ball decision.

They use whistles and hand signals to make and explain their decisions.

At the start of every game the referee throws the basketball up in the air (jump ball), and one player from each team tries to hit it to their teammates.

At the start of each quarter the team who has the possession arrow pointing towards their hoop gets the ball. Then the arrow is switched, and the next team gets the ball next quarter.

After four quarters, the team who scores the most points wins. If the two teams score the same number of points, there is a five-minute "overtime" to see who can score more points. "Overtime" can be played over and over until one team finally scores more points.

Possession Arrow

The possession arrow is set based on the results of the jump ball. Whichever team does not gain possession of the jump ball is awarded the possession arrow, which is used to determine who gets the ball in certain situations, such as a held ball, an out of bounds situation where the official does not have certain knowledge of who hit the ball out of bounds, on double violations such as a double lane violation and when the ball gets stuck between the rim and the backboard on a shot or pass attempt.


Points are scored for shooting the basketball through the hoop.

Two points for a goal inside the three-point area, and three points for goals scored from outside.

Free throws, taken from the free-throw line and awarded after a foul, are worth one point.



 Comparison FIBA and NBA Rules







Duration of Periods

10 minutes

12 minutes

Overtime Duration

5 minutes

5 minutes

Rest Time Between 1st / 2nd and 3rd / 4th Periods

2 minutes

2 minutes, 10 seconds

Length of Halftime

15 minutes

15 minutes

Court Length

91' 10" x 49' 2.5"

94' x 50'

Size of Lane

19 ' 8.2" x 19' 0.3"

16' x 19'

3-Point Line

20' 6.1 "

23' 9" (22' in corner)

Player Foul Limit



Jump Ball



Touch Ball On/Above Cylinder

Yes, allowed

Not allowed

Closely Guarded For 5 Seconds

Yes (while holding the ball)


Number of Referees

Two (three can be used in competitions if the Zone or host federation wish to)


Timeouts in Regulation

One 60-second in each of the 1st three periods, two 60-second in 4th period

Six 60-second and one 20-second per half

Timeouts in Overtime

1 additional 60-second

3 additional 60-second

Timeouts Called By


Player in game

Legal Jersey Numbers

only from 4 to 15

All numbers are allowed