NBA Rules – What Are the Official Basketball (NBA) Rules and Regulations?

basketball rules nba

The main basketball league in North America brings together each season hundreds of thousands of spectators passionate about the orange ball. The NBA, headquartered on Fifth Avenue in New York, is home to the world’s greatest basketball stars and has a track record that goes far beyond the borders of the United States. Popular and broadcast on television all over the world, NBA matches fascinate by the speed and quality of play that no other country in the world can match.

The Birth of a Sport and a Lifestyle

The NBA was born in New York in 1946 and became the first league to play in big halls in major cities. It adopted its official name in 1949, which marks the beginning of the first official season. Being a sport mostly composed of white players, 1950 marks the year of integration with the recruitment of Chuck Cooper to the Boston Celtics.

Basketball became a multi-racial sport, known for its diversity, and the Minneapolis Lakers are the first strong team to win five titles in six years. The 1960’s marked the arrival of the greatest champions like Wilt Chamberlain, superstar of rebounds and Bill Russell, whose rivalry with Chamberlain enthralled the crowds. The year 1967 is nicknamed the year of the War of the Talents because another league, the American Basketball Association, decided, in agreement with the NBA, to disappear and this one thus recovered many franchises like Nets, Nuggets, Pacers or the Spurs. The league continues to grow thanks to new franchises and the establishment of sports rules that will make basketball more and more spectacular.

Basketball fans know that basketball is one of the most popular sports in the United States. Moreover, attending one of the matches is a real pleasure for two very specific reasons: to see exceptional players confronting and discover the magical atmosphere that reigns at each meeting. But to truly appreciate an NBA game, it’s best to know the basketball rules.

In this article, you will find all the basketball rules: the principle of the game, duration of a match, different times of play, mistakes, calculation of points, and many more! You will understand why the referee whistles when a player dribbles a second time.

How many players are there on the basketball court?

Basketball is a collective and technical sport at a time. On the field, only five players from each team can be present (i.e. 10 players in total competing). These five players are called basic players and the other players remain on the sidelines. They must be ready to enter the game at any time. During a match, player changes are unlimited, and the same player can enter and exit several times during a match. These renewals are done by the coach. On the other hand, if the same player commits 5 personal fouls during the match, he will not be able to return to the field.

These personal fouls are any unauthorised contacts with an opposing player: holding, pushing, blocking…

What is the duration of an NBA match?

A basketball game lasts 40 minutes in total. It is broken down into 4 parts of 10 minutes each, called quarters. According to NBA rules, and NBA basketball quarter lasts 12 minutes. These parts are separated by a dwell time of 2 minutes. Between the second and third parts, this break time is 15 minutes (half time).

The Different Time Restrictions

There are different time restrictions in the NBA rule book. Here is a summary of these.

The 5-second rule

In the case of a throw-in (behind the nearest touchline), a free throw, a dribble or when the player wishes to get rid of the ball (if he is in the off position), the latter has 5 seconds to perform one of these actions.

The 8-second rule

When a team has control over the ball, it has a maximum of 8 seconds to take it to its frontcourt (beyond the median line). Once in this zone, the ball cannot be brought back to the backcourt.

The 24-second rule

A team that has the ball in their possession has 24 seconds to shoot. If this time is exceeded, the ball returns to the opposing team. To enjoy a new period (shot clock reset), the ball must hit the ring.

What Are the NBA Official Rules before the Game Is Scheduled to Begin?

The beginning of a basketball game is very important. Indeed, for a match to begin, several NBA official rules must be complied with:

The five players must be ready and dressed in their team’s outfit.

A match starts with a tip-off (the only one of the game). This tip-off has a specific scope: to determine which of the two teams will have the ball.

Basketball Rules NBA: How Do You Play It?

In basketball, the ball must be played only with the hands. If a player uses the foot, it is a violation of the basketball rules NBA. This is also sanctioned: throw-in is granted to the opposing team. This throw-in can be taken by any player on the team. It is behind the sideline closest to where the foul was committed. The player has 5 seconds to throw the ball into play. If he cannot move more than one meter, he can, however, move back as much as he wishes. The opposing team must not interfere with him.

On the other hand, if a player falls and accidentally touches the ball with the foot, this is not considered an offense. However, if a player rolls or gets up with the ball in their hands, this is sanctioned.

The Course of a Basketball Game

A match, therefore, begins with a face-to-face encounter between two players, one from the competing team. Each player is placed in the direction of the basket to attack and behind the middle line. The goal is to strike the ball so that a member of his team catches it.

Once the ball is in possession, the timer of the referee is launched, and the player must constantly dribble to move and advance on the ground. If the player takes two steps without dribbling or if he resumes his dribble after having stopped, a foul is then whistled.

How to Attack and Take the Ball from Opponents?

Different ways are possible for the defensive team to take the ball from their opponents:

  • Zone defense where each team member covers one half of the court and takes charge of an opposing member when he arrives in the area.
  • Individual defense, which consists of taking charge of a specific player throughout the game.

To take the ball from an opposing member, the player may do so when an opponent is dribbling or when a shot is missed.

How Are the Points Counted in Basketball?

As per the basketball rules NBA, the number of scored points depends on the area where the ball was shot. Thus, a free throw is worth a point, a shot thrown near the basket (in the 6.25 meter zone) is worth two points and if the player shoots beyond this zone and from the distance, he wins three additional points to his team.

Note: for the free throw, the player has 5 seconds to shoot.

Basketball Rules: What Are the Different Fouls?

  • In basketball (as in all sports), fouls can be whistled during a match. Here is a small overview of the basketball rules:
  • No player may use his arms, shoulders, hips, knees to disrupt or interfere with an opposing player.
  • Players cannot take more than two steps without dribbling. This is a walk.
  • A player cannot resume a dribble after having stopped. This is penalized.
  • During a dribble, the player’s hand cannot be placed under the ball for this is regarded as carrying.
  • In case of return to the backcourt a team, the referee will whistle a fault.

We hope this little explanation of the NBA basketball rules will help you. In the meantime, we advise you to participate in one of the matches organized in the US. Whether you are amateur or expert, it will be a real pleasure, that’s for sure!


This entry has 1 replies

  • Mark T. DeNucci Sr.

    1) NBA games consist of four 12 minute quarters NOT four 10 minute quarters! I stopped reading after that bit of information. Point of information: FIBA games are four 10 minute quarters.

    2) This article read like ot was written by someone who had never seen a basketball game in his life.