Basketball Rules

Official Basketball Association Rules
NFHS Rules

General Rules

Two teams each have up to five players on the court at one time. Teams score by shooting the basketball through the hoop. The hoop is an 18 inch cylinder attached to the backboard and positioned 10 feet off the ground. Each team tries to prevent their opponent from scoring by either stealing the ball or blocking an attempted shot. The ball is moved down the court by either passing it to a teammate or dribbling it. Check with your league for Game Duration, Size of Basketball, Basket Height


Play stops on all rules violations with the other team gaining possession.

Ball Handling Violations

Double Dribble - When a player stops dribbling, holds the basketball, and then starts dribbling again or when a player dribbles the ball with two hands at the same time.

Traveling - Taking more than one and a half steps without dribbling while the player has possession of the ball or when you stop dribbling and move or change your pivot foot.

Back Court - When the team with possession of the ball travels over the midcourt line into the frontcourt and then crosses back into the backcourt.

Time Violations

Three-Second Rule - No offensive player can be in the free-throw lane for longer than 3 seconds at a time.

Five-Second Possession Violation - When a ballhandler is being defended within six feet in the frontcourt, and fails to get rid of the basketball within five seconds.

Ten-Seconds In The Backcourt - When the offensive team takes ten or more seconds to move the basketball across the midcourt line into the front court.

Five-Second Inbound Violation - When passing the ball inbounds after gaining possession, players have five seconds to get the ball to a teammate.

Space or Lane Violation

Lane Violation - During a free throw situation, if you enter the lane too soon, it's called a lane violation and results in a turnover or the other team gets another free throw attempt.


Play stops on all fouls.

After a foul is committed and depending on the type of foul , one of two things will happen. A. The opposing team will gain possession of the ball, or B. The fouled player shoots free throws.

Common Fouls

Shooting Foul - When a defender makes contact with an offensive player who is in the act of shooting the basketball.

Technical Foul - Violations and misconduct that are detrimental to the game. These are penalized by free-throw opportunities.

Reaching In - When a defender attempts to steal the basketball and the defender extends their arm and hand and makes contact with the opposing ball handler.

Charging - Happens when an offensive player runs into a defender who has an established position.

Holding - When a players uses their hands to interfere with or limit an opponent's freedom of movement.

Hand Check - When a defender uses one or both hands on the opposing the ball handler.

Reaching In - When attempting to steal the basketball, the defender extends their arm and hand and makes contact with the ball handler.

Blocking - When a player uses their body position to prevent their opponent from advancing down the court.

Flagrant Foul - A foul committed in an violent and harmful manner.

Other Important Rules

Game Duration, Size of Basketball, Basket Height , how many timeouts and duration, player foul limit,and time violations - Check with your local league officials.