Basketball Rules

Rules for 3-on-3 Basketball

Officiating: Teams are expected to read all rules before playing and self-enforce rules. Referees will settle any conflicts between teams. Referees' word is final; continued arguing with the Referee will end in dismissal from the game.

I. Basic Information
II. Playing Rules
III. Ball Possession/Putting the Ball in Play
IV. Fouls
V. Fouls and Violations Defined

I. Basic Information

TEAM: A team consists of 3 players on the court and a maximum of 1 substitute. After the first game, your roster is set. Players may compete for only one team. Once a person has played with a team, they cannot play with any other team. Violation will result in a forfeiture of the games involved with that player.
CONDUCT: The yellow and red card system is in effect. Any verbal abuse directed at an official will be an automatic red card and ejection from the tournament.
START OF GAME: Team must be signed in and ready to play at their scheduled time.
COURT: 3-on-3 basketball is a half-court game. The "check-line" shall be the top of the arc.
TIME: Playing time will be done in two 7-minute halves. Throughout the game, the clock will run continuously. There will be a 1-minute halftime. Teams will play till the first team scores 21 points OR till time runs out. The team with the highest score wins.

II. Playing Rules

  • 3-second lane violations will be called.
  • No time-outs, except those called by referee for injuries or rule discussion.
  • Stalling or deliberate attempts to freeze the ball shall result in loss of ball possession.
  • The referee may issue a verbal warning before taking away possession.

III. Ball Possession/Putting the Ball in Play

  • The ball changes possession after each basket unless a foul is awarded.
  • At the beginning of each half, after a score, after a foul, or out of bounds: the ball must be PASSED in from the check-line.
  • The referee must handle the ball after out of bounds is called, or a foul is awarded.
  • After defensive steals, rebounds, or blocked shots, the ball must also be returned to the check-line for the team in possession to be on offense, but does not need to be passed into play.
  • Scoring: Each basket scored in front of the men’s 3-point line is worth 1 point. Each basket scored behind the men’s 3-point line is worth 2 points.
  • Substitutions: ONLY AFTER a converted basket, a foul shot, or any stoppage of play. The substitute must get an official's attention and wait to be called in. A technical foul will be charged to the team for failure to abide by this rule.
  • Held Ball: There will be no jump balls. Possession after a held-ball situation is alternating possession. The scorekeeper will keep track of the possession arrow.
  • Overtime Procedure: If the score is tied after regulation play, an overtime period of two minutes will be played. If the score remains tied at the end of this period, a second, sudden death overtime will be played. Possession of the ball will be determined by coin-toss.
  • Dunking: No dunking or hanging on the rims. An attempted dunk will result in a technical foul.

IV. Fouls

  • All defensive fouls: will result in retained possession for the offense (even after a converted basket).
  • All offensive fouls: will result in a change of possession and disallowing converted baskets.
  • All technical and intentional fouls: will result in one free throw, with possession going to the offended team. (Ejection of player may follow)

V. Fouls and Violations Defined

Personal fouls: any type of illegal physical contact, including hitting, pushing, slapping, holding, and an illegal pick/screen. This occurs when an offensive player sticks out a limb and makes physical contact with a defender, in an attempt to block the path of the defender. All picks must be set with feet stationary before contact.

Personal foul penalties:

  • Charging: An offensive foul committed when a player pushes or runs over a defensive player. The ball is given to the team the foul was committed upon. The ball must be checked in from the top of the arc.
  • Blocking: illegal personal contact resulting from a defender not establishing position in time to prevent an opponent's drive to the basket.
  • Flagrant foul: Violent contact with an opponent. This includes hitting, kicking, and punching. This type of foul results in a free throw plus the offense retaining possession of the ball after the free throw. Dismissal from the game may also occur for the offending player, depending on the severity of the infraction.
  • Intentional foul: When a player makes physical contact with another player with no reasonable effort to steal the ball. It is a judgment call for the officials.
  • Technical foul: A player or a coach can commit this type of foul. It does not involve player contact or the ball but is instead about the 'manners' of the game. Foul language, obscenity, obscene gestures, and even arguing can be considered a technical foul, as can technical details regarding filling in the scorebook improperly or dunking during warm-ups.


  • Walking/traveling: Taking more than 'a step and a half' without dribbling the ball, or moving your pivot foot once you've stopped dribbling.
  • Carrying/palming: When a player dribbles the ball with his hand too far to the side of or, sometimes, even under the ball.
  • Double dribble: Dribbling the ball with both hands on the ball at the same time, or picking up the dribble and then dribbling again.
  • Held ball: Occasionally, two or more opposing players will gain possession of the ball at the same time. To avoid a prolonged and/or violent tussle, the referee stops the action and awards the ball on a rotating basis.
  • Goaltending: If a defensive player interferes with a shot while it's on the way down toward the basket, while it's on the way up toward the basket after having touched the backboard, or while it's in the cylinder above the rim, it's goaltending and the shot counts. If committed by an offensive player, it's a violation and the ball is awarded to the opposing team for a throw-in.
  • Backcourt violation: Once the offense has brought the ball across the mid-court line, they cannot go back across the line during possession. If they do, the ball is awarded to the other team to pass in bounds.
  • Time restrictions: A player passing the ball in bounds has five seconds to pass the ball. If he does not, the ball is awarded to the other team. Players also cannot have the ball for more than five seconds when being closely guarded. Some levels of play include a shot clock, requiring a team to attempt a shot within a given time frame.