Basketball rules: Times, Violations, points and more

If you have recently become interested in the sport, the ideal is to start with the basketball rules, terms such as Goaltending, Backcourt or Shot Clock will probably cause you many questions, and they are probably the reason why you are in this article today.

Not knowing the rules of basketball can be a problem for every basketball player and not knowing these rules can result in penalties (individual and team) that can end up costing a game.

The rules are fundamental for the development of a basketball game, understanding them will help you improve your game.

Basketball Rules and Regulations for Beginners

I want to show you the rules of basketball in an easy and simple way so that you can understand them without so much complication, let’s start with the basic ones, but equally important.

  1. The ball can be thrown in any direction. You can do this with one or both hands.
  2. The ball can be hit in any direction. It also allows you to use one or both hands.
  3. The team with the most points is always declared the winner of the match.
  4. A player may not run with the ball. As a player, you must throw it from where you catch the ball. There is only one allowance for anyone who catches the ball while running.
  5. The body should not be used to catch the ball. You must catch the ball in your hands.
  6. A foul occurs when you hit the ball with your fist. Also, holding, tripping, pushing or carrying an opponent on the shoulder results in a foul.
  7. It is not possible to trip, push, strike, hold or shove an opponent in any way.
  8. When the ball is thrown or hit from the ground into the basket, a goal shall be scored. If the ball remains in the basket without falling, it is also considered a goal.
  9. The referee shall be the judge of the game. He takes into account the baskets. Besides that, he decides when the ball is in play, which side it belongs to and keeps time.
  10. The time for any basketball game shall be two fifteen-minute halves with a five-minute break in the middle.
  11. If either side makes three sequential plots, a goal will count for their opponents.

Basic rules of basketball

Basic basketball rules

When participating in basketball as a trainee, you must know some basic rules of the game. If you break any of them, you will not be able to master the game. Moreover, it will prevent you from becoming a competent player in the future.

The basic rules of basketball are as follows:


Time is also essential. You have to know how long a complete game lasts and the breaks in between.

FIBA games use a four-quarter format of 10 minutes each. In the NBA, on the other hand, a quarter lasts 12 minutes. If there is a tie after regulation playing time, the game is extended to a five-minute overtime until a winner is determined.

In the NCAA they use the format of two halves of 20 minutes each.


Knowing the main objective is also good. The team with many points is the winner.

So while playing, your goal should be to score more points. To do this, you must put the ball into the opposing team’s basket as many times as possible.

number of players

The maximum number of players that can participate in this sport is 12 per team. Each team will have five players on the court at the same time. The 5 players who start the games are called the “starting five“.

The remaining 7 players who are not on the field will be the substitute players, who can be changed without limitations during the matches.

The positions that each player usually occupies on the court are:

  • Armorer or point guard
  • Shooting guard
  • Small forward
  • Pivot forward
  • Center

Variations may also be applied within the starting lineup when it is time to take the field, but this criterion does not necessarily have to be met.


Any beginner needs to master the scoring aspect. As you play, you want to score points for yourself. However, it is essential that you know how and in what way you should score in the game.

To score a basket, there are three different ways in which you can score points. Let’s see what these ways are below:

  1. If you score from near the basket, i.e. within the three-point arc, you will get two points.
  2. A basket scored from the free throw line is worth one point.
  3. A basket scored beyond the three-point arc earns you three points.

Another way to get 3-pointers is on a foul-and-goal play, this is when a player is fouled in the act of shooting and makes a basket, nowadays it is usually called an old-fashioned 3-point play.

A 4-point play can also be obtained when the foul is committed on a shot from the 3-point line and the player makes his shot plus the extra free throw.

Having this information, therefore, will allow you to know how to get more points while playing the game.

Moving the ball

There are specific directions you must master to pass the ball.

You must take two steps before passing the ball and without dribbling it.

In addition, the ball can be dribbled from one point to another or passed from one player to another.

You cannot start dribbling the ball after finishing.

Another thing about ball movement is that once a team with the ball passes half court, they cannot cross back over with the ball.

Time Violation Rules

Basketball rules on time violation

Basketball is diversified and characterized by its fast pace. This is mainly due to the rules of basketball that focus on time, these regulations specify how long certain actions can last.

If you master these key rules, you will not make any mistakes and your level of play will undoubtedly improve.

Shot Clock or 24 seconds (Shot Clock)

This is called the shot clock or possession clock, it consists of 24 seconds for the team in possession of the ball to execute its offensive play, this clock counts down to zero.

The time starts to run from the throw-in of the ball.

If the ball touches the basket ring, the 24-second clock restarts. The clock also restarts after a change of possession or a foul.

8-second rule

If a team receives the ball, it must be able to move it from its own half to the opponent’s half within eight seconds, otherwise possession of the ball is lost.

3-second rule

During an attack, defending players may remain in the opponent’s zone for a maximum of three seconds. It does not matter if they are in possession of the ball or not.

However, referees are generous with this rule and rarely penalize infractions, especially at a high level.

5-second rule

When shooting, a player may only hold the ball for a maximum of five seconds after the rebound.

In the game, a player who is closely guarded must, after five seconds, start dribbling, passing the ball or shooting a basket.

In case of violation of the rules, the opposing team will receive a throw-in.

Rules of Misdemeanors

As explained above about fouls, as a beginner, you should be aware that serious fouls can cost a team. While playing, be sure to avoid them to save your team points.

You will be ejected if you commit more than five personal fouls (illegal contact with the opponent).

If you foul someone who is taking a shot, you will be assigned two shots from inside the arc and three shots if the foul is from outside the 3-point line.

Basketball distinguishes between four types of fouls:

  • Personal foul: contact foul, this can be either on defense or offense:
    • Defender Foul (Defensive Foul): A defender may only defend an attacker in possession of the ball in a limited manner. Holding, blocking, kicking, kicking, shaking, leg placement or obstructing with outstretched arms, elbows or legs is not allowed.
    • Attacker Foul (Offensive Foul): An attacker in possession of the ball commits a foul when there is contact with a defender in a legal defensive position or when moving backward. Typical offensive fouls include pushing the defender with the forearm or elbow.
  • Technical foul: technical error and lack of discipline (e.g. disregarding the referee’s decisions, provocation, too many players on the field).
  • Unsportsmanlike foul: very hard contact, contact without the possibility of winning the ball.
  • Disqualifying or flagrant foul: serious lack of sportsmanship (assault, insult, etc.).


After a disqualifying foul or two unsportsmanlike fouls, a player is disqualified from the game and must leave the room immediately or wait for the end of the game in the team booth.

In case of five personal or technical fouls, a player loses his eligibility for the current game.

General Violations

These are not allowed actions that lead to the loss of possession of the ball, mainly produced at an individual level by the players after committing some of the mistakes mentioned below:

Off or exit of the ball

If the ball or the player with the ball touches the ground inside or outside the contour of the court, the decision will be a loss of the ball and possession for the opposing team.

Stepping or walking error

As soon as the player in possession of the ball stops dribbling, he may only have two contacts on the floor with his feet (make a double step or pivot). Then he must pass the ball or shoot it to the basket. He may lift his leg for the shot, but not fall back down with the ball in his hands.


Touching the ball with the foot, knee or leg is called footwork. A distinction is made between defenders and attackers:

  • If a defensive player commits the footwork, the shot clock is set at 14/24 seconds if more than ten seconds have elapsed.
  • If the footwork is played by an offensive player, the ball passes to the opposing team, which also receives the full 24 seconds of a new attack.

Backcourt or returned ball

In an attack, no player of the team that has the ball can return it from the opposite half of the field to his own half, this produces the so-called backfield.

Double dribble

If an attacker picks up the ball after dribbling, he must not start dribbling again. Otherwise there is a loss of the ball for the team.


A ball that is thrown in the direction of the basket can only be deflected in the upward motion, but not when it moves downward in the direction of the basket. It can then only be played again after it has touched the basket.

Important information about basketball rules

Basketball rules may differ slightly in different leagues such as FIBA, NBA or NCAA.

General basketball rules and regulations

This sport has rules and regulations that all participants must be aware of.

You may find that there are many rules that you must follow before playing this game. This is true depending on what part of the world you are in.

We have the rules for offense, defense and the rules for each player in the game.

Here are the rules you should know about this sporting activity:

Basketball rules for everyone

All foul rules apply to all players. In the course of the game, you may find that those undeserved touches or trips result in fouls. Whether you are an offensive or defensive player, fouls apply to everyone who plays.

The ball must not be kicked or hit using the fist.

Rules for defense

The defensive team is the one that does not have the ball. This side has only one main rule for its players which is: “Do not commit fouls“.

Touching your opponent results in a foul. Therefore, as a defender, you must avoid at all costs coming into physical contact with an offensive player.

Rules for the offense

This side is formed by the team that has the ball.

They have 5 main rules to observe. These are:

  1. The ball must stay in bounds. Since you will have control of the ball, you must stay in bounds so that the other team cannot control the ball.
  2. Dribble the ball with one hand. As an offense, you should only use both hands when you are using your pivot foot. That is, when you are moving with one foot and the other foot is stationary.
  3. Dribbling the ball while moving. Players must not move inside the court without dribbling the ball, as this is considered “Walking”.
  4. Back court violation. You must observe this. Once this player crosses the half court, he may not return, except when a defensive player returns the ball to him.
  5. Do not dribble after stopping the dribble. Most of the time this happens after a short pass. This means that if you stop dribbling the ball you cannot start a second time. If you do, you will lose the ball to your opponents.

Other Basketball Rules

Within the world of basketball there are variations in the rules depending on the league, competition and/or category. Although they may change slightly, they are always based on the basic rules of the game.

Here are the different basketball regulations:

Who administers and enforces the rules of basketball during the game?

The referee is the figure in charge of enforcing the rules of basketball within the game, they are impartial and their work is very important for the development of the game.

To keep it simple and get straight to the point I will tell you that the number of referees for a basketball game is usually 2, although this may vary depending on the level of the league, some use 3 referees as is the case in the NBA.

These referees will indicate the situations that occurred during the game to the technical table so that the data can be recorded. This is where the game data is generated, such as number of rebounds, points per player, steals, assists and more.


Now that you have learned a little more about of the basketball rules, I am sure you will improve your game by applying what you read here today. Now I ask you, which rule did you find most interesting? Or, on the contrary, which one did you find the most boring or confusing?

Let us know in the comments and if you found the content useful please share it on social networks to continue growing with your help and don’t forget to come back to baloncestopro for more basketball content.

Esteban Gomes

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