Which rules would you change in basketball?

Playing time, time rules, fouls: the basketball rules in short

Basketball basics at a glance

One playing field, two teams, two baskets and a ball - the match can begin. Find out more about the requirements for every basketball game here.


In basketball, there are a total of ten players on the field at the same time, so five per team. In addition, a team can have up to seven substitutes who can change as often as required.

On the starting grid, the five field players of a team, the so-called starting five, usually take the positions of a center, two forwards and two guards. However, variations are also possible.


Basket throw

The aim of the game is to throw the ball into the opponent's basket, which is located on the edge of the field on the narrow side of the field at a height of 3.05 meters. A free throw scores one point, a normal throw scores two points; if the player is behind the three-point line during the throw, a hit earns him three points. At the end of a basketball game, the team with the higher number of points wins.

Playing time

A game at FIBA ​​consists of four quarters, each of which lasts ten minutes. In the NBA, on the other hand, a quarter takes 12 minutes. If there is a tie after regular playing time, the game will be extended by five minutes until a winner has been determined.

These are the most important rules in basketball

Goaltending, dribbling, the 8-second rule - how was that again? If you need a little tutoring on basketball rules, don't worry! In the following we explain to you what you need to know about this ball sport.

By the way: The basketball rules can vary slightly in different leagues such as FIBA, NBA or NCAA.


There are four types of fouls in basketball:

personal foul: illegal contact (defensive foul, offensive foul)
technical foul: technical errors and indiscipline (e.g. disregarding referee decisions, provocations, too many players on the field)
unsportsmanlike foul: very hard contact, contact with no chance of winning the ball
disqualifying foul: gross unsportsmanlike conduct (assault, insult, etc.)

Defender's foul (defensive foul)

A defender may only ward off an attacker who has the ball to a limited extent. Holding, blocking, pushing, jostling, tripping on the knees or being obstructed with outstretched arms, elbows or legs are not permitted.

Attacker's foul (offensive foul)

An attacker in possession of the ball commits a foul if there is contact with a defender who is in a legal defensive position or moving backwards. Typical offensive fouls include pushing the defender away with the forearm or contact with the elbow.


After a disqualifying foul or two unsportsmanlike fouls, a player is excluded from the game and must leave the hall immediately or wait for the game to end in the team dressing room.

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


Time violations

Basketball is varied and is characterized by its fast pace. This is mainly due to the time rules that specify how long certain actions can take.

24-second clock (shot clock)

The so-called shot clock (in English: throwing clock) counts down the 24 seconds that an attack may last. The time counts from the throw-in of the ball.

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

8-second rule

If a team receives the ball, it must be able to get it from its own half into the opponent's field within eight seconds.

3-second rule

In the event of an attack, the defenders may be in the opposing zone for a maximum of three seconds. It doesn't matter whether they are in possession of the ball or not.

However, the referees are generous with this rule and rarely punish violations, especially at a high level.

5 second rule

When throwing in, a player may only hold the ball for a maximum of five seconds.

In play, if a player is closely guarded, he must start dribbling, throwing the ball or throwing a basket after five seconds.

In the event of a rule violation, the opposing team receives a throw-in.


If the ball or the player in possession of the ball touches the ground on or off the out-of-line, a decision is made on out.

Step error

As soon as the player in possession of the ball stops dribbling, his feet are only allowed to make two contact with the ground. Then he has to pass the ball or throw it on the basket. He may raise his supporting leg for the throw, but not put it back on.

Foot game

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

• When a Defensive player commits the foot game, the shot clock is set to 14/24 seconds if more than ten seconds have passed.
• Will the foot game of a Offensive player committed, the ball goes to the opposing team, which also gets the full 24 seconds of a new attack.

Return leg

In the event of an attack, no player in the team in charge of the ball may return the ball from the opposing half of the field, the so-called apron, to their own half, the so-called backcourt.

Double dribbling

If an attacker picks up the ball again after dribbling, he may not start dribbling again. Otherwise, the opponent is thrown in from the sideline.


A ball that is thrown in the direction of the basket may only be repelled when it is moving upwards, but not when it is moving downwards towards the basket. Then it may only be played again after touching the basket.

Ready to sink your balls?

Now you have the necessary basic knowledge about the basketball rules and you can start - regardless of whether you want to dribble across the field yourself or prefer the grandstand.

If you want to cut a good figure as a player or to cheer on, you will find the right basketball products from jerseys to pants with us.

You can read more about basketball here: How a basketball team prepares for a new season in a training camp is explained by DBB U18 national coach Kay Blümel in this interview.

We hope you enjoy playing and cheering!


Pictures: picture 1-3; 5: © iStock / Dmytro Aksonov; Image 4: © iStock / Geber86; Image 6: © iStock / skynesher.