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Basketball Rules Tips

Read these 23 Basketball Rules Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Basketball tips and hundreds of other topics.

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What is a pivot foot?

Pivot Foot

You must use your pivot foot to move around with the basketball if you are not dribbling. Think of your pivot foot as having it's toes anchored to the floor. You can spin around or "pivot" on that anchored part of your foot, but you can't slide or lift this foot unless you are passing or shooting. Doing so will be a travelling violation. To establish which foot you can use as your pivot foot, just remember that the first foot to be on the ground when you catch the ball is you pivot. The last foot to be on the ground when you stop dribbling, is your pivot. If you jump up, catch the ball, and land on both get to choose. Don't slide, lift, or change pivot feet. You will get called for traveling and lose possession of the basketball.

How many free throws are given on a foul?

Fouls & Free Throws

If you are fouled while you are shooting, you will be awarded 2 free throws. If you are fouled while shooting a 3 point attempt, you will be awarded three free throws. Free throws are NOT awarded on a charging foul. For all other non-shooting fouls, it all depends on whether you are in the foul bonus as to whether you will shoot free throws. For the NBA, if a team commits five fouls in a quarter, then they are over the limit, and the offense will get two free throws for every foul committed thereafter. In college, it's the 7th team foul per half that gets you into the bonus, but you will be shooting whats called a 1 and 1. This means that you must make the first one, to get a second. Once a team reaches 10 team fouls, you're in the double bonus, and every foul for the remainder of the half will be two shots.

When is a player considered to be out of bounds?


A player is out of bounds when any part of his body is in contact with the floor or any object on, above or outside of the boundary lines. The ball is out of bounds when it touches a player who is out of bounds, or the supports or the back of the backboards or it touches the floor or any object on, above or outside a boundary line.

When is a time out called for injury?

Injury Time-Out

In case of an injury to a player, the official may stop play. If the ball is in play when the injury occurs, the officials shall wait to stop the game until the team with the injury gets possession of the ball. Exception: when necessary to protect an injured player, the officials may stop play immediately.

Is it always a foul by the player in the air?

Fouls/Player in the Air

A player who has jumped from a spot has a right to land in that same spot. If he does not jump straight up and makes contact with his opponent who has taken a legal guarding position, it is an offensive foul. Moving under a player who is in the air and causing contact is usually an unsportsmanlike foul(dangerous play), and can be a disqualifying foul. a.k.a The Bruce Bowen Rule.

What is a personal foul?

Personal Fouls

A foul is an action that involves contact with an opposing player, whether the ball is alive, in play, or dead. A player shall not block, hold, charge, trip, impede the progress of an opponent by extending his arm, shoulder, hip, knee, or foot.

What is the 10 Second Rule?

10 Second Rule

Once a player gains control of a live ball, the offensive team has 10 seconds to cross over half court. If a team fails to do this, it is a violation and the ball is awarded to the opposing team.

How many fouls disqualify you from the game?

Don't Foul Out!

In the pros, you are disqualified from playing in the game on your 6th foul. But for everyone else, you will be disqualified on your 5th foul. Your goal on defense should be to make "stops", not fouls. Stop the other team from scoring without fouling.

What is an illegal screen?

Illegal Screen

A foul will be called for illegal screening when there is movement by the screener during the actual pick. A player must remain stationary when actual contact is made with the defender. Many times it is the dribbler who is actually at fault, because he doesn't give the screener time to set up. Always allow your man to set up before using the screen. Violation is a turnover, ball awarded to the other team.

What is blocking and charging?

Blocking/ Charging Foul

This is THE most difficult call to make in basketball. A lot is left up for interpretation, and referees blow this call more than any other. Blocking, by definition, is personal contact which impedes the progress of an offensive player. This call is made when a defender bumps into, or impedes an offensive player's progress with their body. Charging is personal contact called against the offense, with or without the ball, usually because the offensive player pushes, or runs through a defender. When judging a block/charge, officials are supposed to use the following principles: 1) Does the defender establish an initial legal guarding position? 2) Does the defender remain stationary or does he move laterally or backwards in order to maintain the guarding position? 3) In moving to maintain the guarding position, are one or both feet on the floor while doing so? 4) Is the defensive player on the spot first? Bascially, everyone has a right to their position on the court, whether it's the offense or the defense. If either one violates that space, then a block/charge will be called.

What is a foul?

What is a Foul?

Basketball, in theory, is a non-contact game. However, it is obvious that when you have 10 players moving with great speed inside a limited space, contact cannot be avoided. If contact occurs in a "bona fide" (normal basketball play), like an attempt to play the ball and does not place the opponent at a disadvantage, the contact may be considered incidental and no foul will be called. Contact from behind is not a normal basketball play, and the player who is behind is usually responsible for the contact because of his position in relation to his opponent and the ball. The player responsible for the contact receives the foul.

What is a dribble?

Dribbling Rule

A dribble starts when a player throws, taps, or rolls it on the floor and touches it again before it touches another player. The dribble is completed when the player touches the ball simultaneously with both hands or the ball comes to rest in one or both hands. Accidentally losing and then regaining control(fumble),tapping the ball in order to gain control,tapping the ball from the control of another player, blocking the pass and then recovering the ball are NOT considered to be dribbles.

What is a 5 second violation?

5 second violation

There are two different 5 second violation calls in the books. One is applied when a team cannot pass the ball in-bounds within 5 seconds. This results in a loss of possesion. The other 5 second call is made at every level EXCEPT the NBA. When a player is pressured by a defender(within a 3 feet radius) and does not go anywhere, he has 5 seconds to get rid of the ball by either shooting or passing the ball. If a player is dribbling in one spot and is being pressured, the count starts as long as the defender remains within that 3 ft. radius. By picking up his/her dribble, the 5 second count will reset, and he/she has another 5 seconds to get rid of the ball. If a player doesn't get rid of the ball within the count, it is a 5 second violation and results in a turnover. The point of the rule is to avoid stagnation. Nobody wants to see somone hold or dribble the ball for extended periods.

Is it a foul if a shooter jumps into my space?

Principle of Verticality

The principal of verticality means that a player is entitled to his/her space that is occupied, plus all vertical space above that player. Therefore if a defender has his/her arms straight above his/her head, and the offensive player with the ball jumps up and there is contact with the defender´s arms, it is not considered an defensive foul.

What is a double dribble?


Basically, you can't dribble with two hands. Once you start you're dribble and that second hand makes contact with the ball, whether it's for picking up your dribble, or on accident, your dribble is legally over. This is called a double-dribble and is a violation with the penalty being loss of the ball to the opposing team.

Is handchecking a foul?


Handchecking is the action by a defensive player in a guarding situation where the hand or hands are used to contact an opponent to either impede his progress or to assist the defensive player in guarding his opponent. It is a foul!

What is the 3 second rule?

3 Seconds in the Key

The rule states that while a team is in possession of the ball, an offensive player shall NOT remain in the key for more than three consecutive seconds. The lines bounding the key are part of the restricted area and a player touching one of these lines is considered in the area. The 3 second restriction does NOT apply: A) While the ball is in the air during a shot for goal. B) During a rebound or C) When the ball is dead. If the ref calls a 3 second violation, the ball is immediately turned over to the opposing team.

What is alternate possession?

Jump Ball

In high school and college basketball, there is a jump ball only at the beginning of the game and then only if the game goes to overtime would there be another jump ball. For every dual possesion call, the officials use an alternating possesion arrow to determine who gets the ball. The NBA has a much better rule in my opinion. For every dual-possesion jump ball call, they actually have a jump ball. They reward a great defensive play by letting them "jump it up".

What is travelling?


Travelling is called when A) a player slides, lifts, or changes his pivot foot B) Takes more than 2 steps after picking up his dribble. Loss of possesion will occur for a traveling violation. You have to dribble if you are advancing with the ball.

What is the Backcourt Rule?

Backcourt Rule

Once an offensive team crosses half court with the ball, the court is essentially cut in half for the offense. The half court line now acts almost like an out-of-bounds line, but only for the offense. Only if a defender knocks the ball back across half court is an offensive player then allowed to legally enter the back court with the ball. The ball is considered in the front court only when the offensive player with the ball has both feet over the center line. So, if a teammate is already in the frontcourt(both feet and the ball over half court) and passes to a teammate who is not yet legally in the frontcourt, then that is a backcourt violation.


How Long is a Basketball Court

Basketball courts come in different shapes and sizes. The length of a basketball court depends on where the court is located or what organization it belongs to.


Basketball courts in the NBA (National Basketball Association) measure approximately 94 feet by 50 feet. NBA courts are the largest in comparison to other courts.

International Basketball Federation

Basketball courts for the International Basketball Federation are slightly smaller than those in the NBA. The International Basketball Federation courts measure exactly 91 feet and 10.4 inches by 49 feet and 2.6 inches.

High School and Elementary School

High school courts tend to measure approximately 84 feet by 50 feet, while elementary school basketball courts are significantly smaller, measuring at 74 feet by 42 feet.

Length of Various Basketball Courts

The NBA, WNBA, and NCAA all have courts which measure 94 feet in length. FIBA (International Basketball Federation) courts measure 91.86 feet. U.S. High School courts are 84 feet in length, and U.S. Junior High School courts are 74 feet in length.

what are the court dimensions

3 Point Arc

The 3 point arc in the NBA is 22 ft to the center of the rim on the sides ( the arc starts 5 ft 3 in from the baseline, being a straight line until that point) then the curved part of the arc is 23ft. 9 in. from the center of the rim. The 3 point arc in college was moved back a foot in 2008 to 20 ft 9 in. The high school 3 point line remains at 19 ft 9 inches.

Should I fill out all college questionnaires?

Free throw

The free throw line is always 15 ft from the line to the backboard

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