3×3 Basketball Rules: Everything you need to know

Discover the exciting variant of traditional basketball with 3×3 Basketball Rules! Also known as streetball or 3-on-3, this game is played on one half of the court with teams of only 3 players per side. The speed and compactness of this format make it irresistible to players and fans alike.

Imagine making quick decisions, handling the ball masterfully, and showing your skills both defensively and offensively on every possession. In 3×3 basketball, ball-handling skills, accurate shooting, and agility are critical.

In this article, we’ll dive into everything you need to know about the Rules of 3×3 Basketball, from the game format to the equipment needed to make the most of this sporting experience.

Introduction to 3×3 basketball rules

Also known as streetball or 3-on-3, 3×3 basketball is played between two teams of 3 players each on a single half-court. It offers a faster-paced, more compact version of 5-on-5 basketball.

With just 3 players on each squad, games require participants to handle the ball often, make quick decisions, and showcase both defensive and offensive skills. The smaller court emphasizes ballhandling, shooting, and agility.

3×3 basketball has surged in popularity over the last decade, being added to the Olympics and spawning professional leagues across the globe. In this guide, we will break down everything you need to know about the official rules and exciting format of 3×3 basketball.

Court Markings and Setup

3×3 basketball uses a regulation-sized basketball court, but games take place on just half the court – including one basket. The court contains the same markings and dimensions as a full-court game in the following zones:

  • Two-point arc: Located 6.75 m from the center of the basket. Shots made from outside this arc are worth 2 points.
  • One-point area: is the interior playing zone inside the two-point arc but within the half-court lines. Shots made from inside this area are worth 1 point.
  • Free throw line: Placed 5.8 m from the backboard. All free throws are shot from this line.
  • “No-charge semi-circle area”: Located directly underneath the basket. Defensive players cannot draw charging fouls in this area.

The court should contain two distinct goal colors – one goal with a black backboard and ring for games and the opposite goal in a contrasting color used for warmups.

Equipment 3×3 basketball rules

Equipment 3x3 basketball rules

The Ball

A size 6 basketball is used in all official 3×3 games. This is smaller than the size 7 ball used in the men’s professional league but the same size used for women’s NCAA play. The smaller ball improves shooting accuracy and ball control.

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Player Attire

  • Players wear standard basketball apparel including shorts, jerseys, and athletic shoes. Compression leg and arm sleeves are also permitted.
  • Teams must wear uniform jerseys of matching dominant color. Couples can choose light or dark-colored jerseys.
  • Teams must have a minimum of 2 jersey sets in differing dominant colors.
  • Sleeves, headgear, and accessories must be uniform between players.
  • No equipment can display any commercial, promotional, or charitable naming or branding.

Teams

3×3 basketball is played between two teams of 3 players each, with an additional substitute player allowed. Only 3 active players per team are permitted on the court at any time.

Team Size

The 3-on-3 team size creates a much more open and spacious style of play compared to traditional 5-on-5 basketball. Players must handle the ball more often and cover more ground defensively. Teams must capitalize on athletic mismatches since there is limited ability to hide weaker defenders.

With fewer players, each individual has a greater share of responsibility. Small mistakes get amplified, while high-level decision-making and skill are rewarded. Open shots will present themselves to capable scorers.

The lowered team size places a premium on versatility. Players must be comfortable shooting from outside, attacking off the dribble, and defending multiple positions. Specialists have a lesser role than all-around contributors.

Substitutions

Each team is allowed 1 substitute player, for a maximum roster of 4 players. Substitutions can be made freely during any dead ball situation. There are no limits on the number of substitutions a team can make – hockey-style shifts are permitted with players changing on the fly.

Liberal substitution rules allow coaches to dictate matchups, get stars quick rest, or swap defensive specialists depending on game situations. Players can go all out for short bursts knowing a fresh substitute is ready.

Deep benches are less important than skill sets in 3×3 basketball. The chemistry between the active 3 players has a larger influence on success than individual substitutions.

Player Positions in 3×3 basketball

Player Positions in 3x3 basketball

Traditional basketball positions like point guard, shooting guard, small forward, power forward, and center do not commonly apply in 3×3 due to the fewer number of players. However, some key roles emerge:

The Ball Handler

The ball handler brings the ball upcourt and initiates offensive possessions. Key traits of this role include expert dribbling skills to drive through traffic, court vision to make crisp passes off the drive, the ability to score off the dribble with floaters and layups, and strong basketball IQ to read and exploit defensive gaps. The ball handler must make good decisions under pressure and kick the ball out to open teammates when the defense collapses. Elite handles and passing are essential for this position.

The Wing

Wings play on the perimeter and showcase versatility on both ends of the floor. Key traits include quick lateral footwork to keep defenders in front, perimeter shooting range from behind the arc, explosiveness to drive past defenders off the bounce, and strength to finish through contact on aggressive drives.

Wings need shooting range to spread the floor but also the power and explosiveness to attack the rim. They see time at both the shooting guard and small forward positions in traditional basketball.

The Big

The big man focuses on rebounding, interior defense, and inside scoring. Key traits include size and length to grab rebounds and contest shots, strength to overpower smaller defenders in the post, soft touch to convert hook shots, drop steps, and layups in traffic, and timing and extension for putbacks off offensive rebounds.

The big controls the paint on both ends. On offense, they set screens and provide a large interior target. Some perimeter skills are beneficial to pull big men away from the hoop.

The Shooter

The shooter specializes in 3-point shooting and perimeter scoring. Key traits include deep shooting range from behind the arc, a quick trigger and ability to shoot off motion, consistent shooting even when defended tightly, and gravity that pulls defenders away from the basket.

The shooter must have a green light to launch 3s early in the shot clock or off kick outs. Their job is to knock down perimeter jumpers, spread the floor, and punish overhelping defenses.

How to Score Points

  • 1 point: Awarded for made field goals from inside the two-point arc (the “one-point area”)
  • 2 points: Awarded for made field goals from outside the two-point arc
  • 1 point: Awarded for each made free throw

Additional scoring rules:

  • If a shot is released from behind the arc and scores, it is always worth 2 points – even if the shooter steps inside the arc.
  • If a shot is released from inside the arc and is legally touched in the air by another player, it still counts as 1 point if it goes in.
  • If a player accidentally scores in the opponent’s basket, the points count for the other team.

Game Duration and Winning

  • Regulation games are played until one team reaches 21 points or 10 minutes have elapsed, whichever comes first.
  • The first team to score 21 points or more wins the game, but they must reach 21 before the end of the 10-minute game clock.
  • If neither team reaches 21 points before the end of 10 minutes, the game continues into untimed overtime.
  • In overtime, the first team to score 2 points wins the game.
  • A team can also win by forfeit if the other team cannot field 3 eligible players at the start of regulation play.

Player Fouls and Violations

Team Fouls

  • Neither individual players nor the team are disqualified based on personal fouls.
  • Beginning with the 7th team foul, all non-shooting defensive fouls result in 2 free throws.
  • All team fouls count toward this limit, including technical and unsportsmanlike fouls.

Shooting Fouls

  • If fouled on a missed 1-point field goal attempt, 1 free throw is awarded
  • If fouled on a made 1-point field goal, the goal counts, and 1 extra free throw
  • If fouled on any made or missed 2-point field goal attempt, 2 free throws are awarded

Disqualifying Fouls

  • Committing 2 unsportsmanlike fouls results in immediate disqualification
  • Committing 2 technical fouls results in immediate disqualification
  • Disqualified players must leave the court immediately and may face further sanctions

Putting the Ball in Play

Putting the Ball in Play

Several rules govern how the ball is put back into active play during 3×3 games:

After a Made Basket

  • The non-scoring team will inbound the ball from directly underneath the basket
  • The defensive player cannot actively defend in the protected “no-charge semi-circle” area
  • The ball must be advanced beyond the 2-point arc before shooting – either via pass or dribble

After a Missed Basket

  • If the offense rebounds a miss, they can immediately continue playing without inbounding
  • If the defense rebounds a miss, they must take the ball back behind the arc before attempting to score

After Ball Out-of-Bounds

  • The ball is put into play with a check-ball exchange behind the arc at the top of the court

Check-Ball Exchange

A check-ball exchange occurs between the defensive and offensive player to restart play behind the arc:

  • The defender passes or bounces the ball to their opponent
  • Once received, the ball is live and play continues
  • The shot clock resets to 12 seconds on check-ball exchanges
  • The exchange simulates checking the ball in traditional basketball

Substitutions

  • Substitutions can be made freely by either team during any dead ball situation
  • Players are not required to report substitutions to the officials or scoring table
  • Unlimited substitutions are permitted – there are no limits on the number of players who can enter and exit the game

Timeouts

  • Each team is granted 1 timeout per game lasting 30 seconds
  • Any player can call a timeout during a dead ball by making a ‘T’ sign with their hands
  • In major tournaments, 2 additional TV timeouts are granted at the first dead ball after the 7:00 and 4:00 marks

The Shot Clock

A 12-second shot clock is standard in 3×3 basketball when electronic devices are available. The shot clock enhances the fast pace of the game by requiring teams to attempt a shot more quickly than the NBA’s 24-second clock.

If no shot clock is available, the referee will issue an audible 5-second countdown when a team is perceived to be stalling.

Violations and Fouls

Traveling: Taking more than 1 step without dribbling

Double Dribble: Dribbling with both hands or interrupting a dribble by touching the ball with both hands

Goaltending: Touching the ball on a downward flight toward the basket or just above the cylinder

Basket Interference: Touching the rim or ball while inside the basket cylinder

Out of Bounds: Touching the boundary line or floor/objects outside the boundary lines

Shot Clock Violation: Failing to attempt a shot before the 12-second clock expires

5 Seconds Closely Guarded: Holding the ball for 5+ seconds while being within 1 m of a defender

Offensive Foul: Committing a foul while attacking the defense

Unsportsmanlike Foul: Excessive, hard contact or disrespectfully addressing officials

Disqualifying Foul: Extreme unsportsmanlike behavior to be removed from the game

Technical Foul: Non-contact foul for unsportsmanlike acts like flopping, excessive complaints

FIBA 3×3 Basketball Rules

The Fédération Internationale de Basketball (FIBA) is the official international governing body for all disciplines of basketball, including 3×3.

FIBA maintains the universal playing rules for 3×3 basketball that are implemented in competitions worldwide. They regulate court dimensions, game length, scoring, fouls, equipment, and all other technical rules of 3×3 basketball.

You can review the complete official rules for 3×3 basketball as written by FIBA in the latest rulebook:

Staying up-to-date on the latest FIBA rule changes and interpretations will help you fully understand how 3×3 basketball is played at the highest levels globally.

Conclusion

That covers the basic rules, scoring, violations, equipment, and format that make 3×3 basketball an exciting and rapidly growing sport!

With only 3 players per team on a half-court, be ready for dynamic playmaking, non-stop action, and hustle on both ends of the floor. Work on your handles, court vision, perimeter shooting, and communication with teammates.

We hope this guide gave you a helpful overview of how to play – and excel at – this fast-paced streetball variation of traditional basketball. Now get out on the blacktop and start practicing your game!

FAQ

Yes, dunks are allowed in 3×3 Basketball as long as they are performed inside the playing area and do not touch the hoop or the net during the attempt.

There is no specific time limit for a throw-in in 3×3 Basketball. However, it is expected that play will resume quickly and smoothly.

No, the use of video cameras or other electronic devices to record or analyze the game during 3×3 Basketball games is prohibited.

No, shots from midcourt or any other area outside the three-point arc are only worth 1 point, even if scored.

The team that wins the kickoff at the start of the game is decided by a draw or coin toss prior to the start of the game.

Esteban Gomes

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