3×3 Basketball: Complete updated guide

3×3 basketball, often referred to as streetball or urban basketball, is one of the fastest-growing sports in the world. This dynamic and fast-paced variant of traditional basketball is played 3-on-3 in half court. With its official rules that differ from the rules of traditional basketball and tournaments regulated by FIBA, 3×3 basketball has quickly become more than just a pick-up game played for fun.

In this comprehensive guide, you’ll learn everything you need about 3×3 basketball: rules, skills, strategies, essential tournaments, and much more. Let’s get into it!

What is 3×3 basketball?

3×3 basketball is a modified form of regular basketball with only 3 players per team competing in half-court. The basic rules are:

  • Each team has 3 players on the court and 1 substitute.
  • The game is played in half court with 1 basket.
  • The ball is smaller (size 6).
  • The game lasts 10 minutes or until one team reaches 21 points.
  • The court has a 12-second shot clock.
  • Baskets inside the arc are worth 1 point, and baskets outside the arc are worth 2 points.
  • Games are continuous; there are no breaks after scoring.

This faster format emphasizes ball movement, speed, creativity, and shooting skills. With more room to perform, players are in constant motion, cutting to the basket and spotting up for shots. Defensively, there is more pressure on individual defense and help rotations.

3×3 combines the competitive spirit of organized basketball with the fluidity and style of streetball. It is basketball reimagined and reinvented for the 21st century.

History of 3×3 basketball

History of 3x3 basketball

3×3 originated in the 1990s on playgrounds in the United States, where informal streetball competitions were already commonplace. In the decades that followed, major brands such as AND1 sponsored traveling streetball events that helped to generalize the style.

In 2007, FIBA decided to adopt 3×3 and made it an official basketball discipline. Soon after, the first FIBA-organized 3×3 competitions were held in Asia and Europe. A professional circuit known as the FIBA 3×3 World Tour was launched in 2012.

The sport’s breakthrough came when 3×3 basketball was included in the Olympic program at the 2010 Youth Olympic Games in Singapore. This inclusion gave the sport a huge boost in visibility and participation. After being shortlisted in 2015, 3×3 was confirmed for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in June 2017.

Today, 3×3 basketball is played competitively in more than 100 countries. FIBA reports that more than 2 million players have official individual ratings. Half of the players are under the age of 25, demonstrating the urban appeal of 3×3 among young people.

Basic rules of 3×3 basketball

Although based on traditional basketball, 3×3 has its own rules specifically adapted to the half-court style of play:

  • Teams: 3 players per team on the court + 1 substitute.
  • Playing time: 1 period of 10 minutes or first to 21 points.
  • Scoring: 1 point for baskets inside the arc, 2 points for baskets outside the arc.
  • Possession: possession changes after making baskets and dead balls.
  • Clear: the ball must be cleared behind the arc after a defensive rebound or steal.
  • Shot clock: 12 seconds to attempt a shot.
  • Fouls: Fouls result in free throws or possession.
  • Timeouts: 1 timeout of 30 seconds per team.

Other differences with 5-on-5 are that there are no jump balls (the defense has possession) and substitutions do not need the referee’s approval.

If you want to learn more about the rules of 3×3 basketball I invite you to visit our specialized article on this topic by clicking on the button below.

How to play 3×3 basketball

To be effective in 3×3, it is necessary to master some key skills and strategies adapted to the unique game format:


  • Ball handling: more space allows for flashy moves, crossovers, and hesitation.
  • Shooting: 2-point arc makes outside shooting critical.
  • Offense: driving from the perimeter to score from inside.
  • Defense: Man control in space, help defense.


  • Use the open space to drive and throw, cut and move.
  • Take the 2 pointers when you have room to shoot
  • Clean up the ball quickly after securing a defensive rebound
  • Communicate constantly on defense.
  • The 3×3 is played with a lot of style and creativity.

With a wide open court and a continuous flow of play, 3×3 rewards players with versatility, skill and vision. Bring those talents together into a cohesive team and you’ll be hard to beat in 3×3!

Main 3×3 basketball tournaments

Main 3x3 basketball tournaments

There are currently numerous professional circuits and world 3×3 basketball championships around the world:

  • FIBA 3×3 World Tour: Professional tour with qualifying tournaments and elite Masters. Culminates with an annual FIBA 3×3 World Tour finals.
  • 3×3 World Cups: World Championships for men’s and women’s national teams in senior, U-23 and U-18 categories. Organized annually by FIBA. Organized annually by FIBA.
  • Olympic Games: 3×3 tournament introduced at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Eight men’s and women’s teams compete for gold.
  • Youth Olympic Games: Global multi-sport event for young people aged 14 to 18 held every four years. 3×3 basketball has been included since the inaugural edition in 2010.
  • Hoopfest: The world’s largest 3-on-3 basketball tournament is held annually in Spokane, Washington. It features more than 7,000 teams and 30,000 participants.
  • Dew NBA 3X: Series of 3×3 basketball competitions organized by the NBA across the United States since 2016. The winner qualifies for USA Basketball nationals.

The growth of major 3×3 championships and leagues has led to increased prize money and visibility for the best athletes in the sport. Players can now potentially make a living playing 3×3 professionally.

Introduction to 3×3 basketball

Are you ready to give 3×3 basketball a try? Here are some tips to get you started:

  • Find a court: visit the nearest parks, school playgrounds, gymnasiums, or outdoor courts.
  • Gather some friends: you only need 3 plus yourself to play.
  • Use a 3×3 ball: the FIBA-approved 3×3 ball is size 6, slightly smaller.
  • Start a pick-up game: play informally, try out the rules
  • Participate in a tournament: look for 3×3 competitions in your area.
  • Create a team: get organized and train together.

The great thing about 3×3 is that all you need is a hoop and a few motivated players. So grab your sneakers and get ready for some intense, fast-paced basketball action on the 3×3 court.

The future is bright for 3×3

3×3 is a dynamic, fast-growing variant of traditional basketball. With its debut at the recent Olympic Games and as a possible professional career, 3×3 basketball will continue to expand around the world.

So whether you want to casually play pickup with your friends or compete professionally on the world stage, 3×3 offers an exciting and accessible way to enjoy basketball. We hope this comprehensive guide has given you all the information you need to get out on the half court and have fun with the energetic game of 3×3.

3×3 Basketball Governing Body and Administration

The International Basketball Federation (FIBA) is the official body for 3×3 basketball. FIBA oversees and administers all official rules, tournaments, rankings and associations for 3×3.

Some key aspects of FIBA’s administration of 3×3 basketball:

  • Official Rules – FIBA publishes and updates the official 3×3 rules.
  • Competition Calendar – FIBA regulates the main official 3×3 tournaments.
  • World Rankings – Individual player/team rankings used for tournament rankings.
  • Partnerships – FIBA develops partnerships with major brands such as Wilson for the official ball.
  • Growth Initiatives – FIBA actively promotes 3×3 through events such as the 3×3 World Tour.
  • Digital Tools – Provides software and applications to manage tournaments and rankings.

Under FIBA supervision, 3×3 basketball has quickly become a professional sport with a clear structure, from local events to the pinnacle of the Olympic Games.

3×3 basketball equipment and material

To optimize midcourt play, specialized 3×3 equipment has been developed:


  • The official 3×3 ball is the FIBA-approved Wilson Evolution size 6. It is slightly smaller and weighs less than the full-court ball.


  • The standard 3×3 court size is 15m x 11m. In many facilities, half courts can be used.
  • Permanent 3×3 courts have specialized flooring and markings for 3×3 only.


  • Adjustable hoops allow play on any indoor or outdoor court surface.
  • Breakable hoops specifically protect players in 3×3 games.


  • Reversible jerseys allow you to customize your gear for pick-up games.
  • Compression training apparel keeps players light and fast on their feet.

Using the right 3×3 equipment enhances the fast pace and fluidity of the game. As 3×3 continues to grow, innovations in equipment will further enhance the experience for both players and spectators.

Benefits of 3×3 basketball for health and fitness

Benefits of 3x3 basketball for health and fitness

The high-intensity nature of 3×3 basketball provides many excellent health and fitness benefits:

  • Improves cardiovascular endurance through constant movement with few breaks.
  • Strengthens the trunk and lower body through lateral defensive slides and sprints down the court.
  • Burn lots of calories: over 800 per hour of competitive 3×3 basketball!
  • Develops the mental acuity and concentration needed in a fast-paced game.
  • Teaches the importance of teamwork and communication.
  • It provides an easily accessible workout that is also fun and engaging.

3×3 is a great exercise because it is more like an exciting game than a workout. The small team and court size allows players to actively participate throughout the game, unlike 5-on-5 basketball where substitutions are frequent. The health and fitness benefits make 3×3 basketball an incredible cardio and strength workout.

Whether you want to get in shape or train to compete at the highest level, 3×3 basketball is a fun way to build endurance, burn calories and develop athletic skills.


3×3 is a great exercise because it is more like an exciting game than a workout. The small team and court size allows players to actively participate throughout the game, unlike 5-on-5 basketball where substitutions are frequent. The health and fitness benefits make 3×3 basketball an incredible cardio and strength workout.

Whether you want to get in shape or train to compete at the highest level, 3×3 basketball is a fun way to build endurance, burn calories and develop athletic skills.


What is the size of the ball in 3×3 basketball?

How long does a 3×3 basketball game last?

What organization governs 3×3 basketball worldwide?

How many players make up a team in 3×3 basketball?

How can I start playing 3×3 basketball?

Esteban Gomes

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