Basketball Basics

basketball-imageEvery basket scored from within the 6.25m (3-point) line during normal play counts as 2 points [a “field goal”]. A basket scored from outside the 6.25m line counts as 3 points and a basket scored from the Free-throw line after a foul or penalty on the opposing team scores as 1 point. The winning team is the team that has scored most points at the end of the Game. There are no draws in normal basketball games.


A Game comprises four quarters of 10 minutes actual playing time. The Game Clock is stopped whenever a Referee blows the whistle and does not start again until the ball touches a player on court when play is re-started. The interval between the 1st & 2nd quarters and the 3rd & 4th quarters is 2 minutes, with a half-time interval of 10 to 15 minutes. Teams have 5 seconds to bring the ball into play following a stoppage of play or a basket being scored and, once in play, must get it over the half-way line into their front-court within 8 seconds.

Teams have 24 seconds to take a shot at the basket once they have gained possession of the ball and, for a shot to count, it must have left the shooter’s hands before the end of the 24 seconds and score, or at least touch the rim of the basket, if the 24 seconds has expired. If the scores are tied at the end of the four quarters, extra time will normally be played to determine the winner.


Each team can have 5 players on court at any one time. They can also have up to 5 substitutes “on the bench”. Players can be substituted as often as the team coach decides, but substitutions can only be made when indicated by the


If a player is to be substituted, the player must sit in the substitutes’ chairs by the score-table and request a substitution. At an appropriate stoppage of play, the table officials will signal to the Referee and the player will be beckoned on court.


Basketball is theoretically a “no-contact” game. The Referee will call a foul against any player who causes contact that the Referee considers could have been avoided. Deliberate contact is penalized more severely. The Referee may also call “technical” fouls for unsporting behaviour. Each player may commit up to 5 fouls. After the fifth they can no longer play and must be substituted from the game.

If the players in a team commit more than 4 fouls in a quarter, from the 5th foul onwards to the end of the quarter if they commit a foul when not in possession of the ball, the opposing team take 2 Free-throws. If any member of a team, including the team coaches, commits a very bad foul or serious infringement of the rules, the Referee may ban them from the game. If this happens the person concerned has to leave the court and may not take any further part in the game.


For every game in the NBL there are two Game Officials, the Referee and the Umpire. These Game Officials are qualified by practical and theoretical examination to the grade appropriate for the level of the game that they are officiating. They are paid a specified Game Fee and appropriate traveling expenses for each game they officiate at.

On the score table there are normally at least three Table Officials, looking after the score-book, the time clock & score-board and the 24 second displays. Depending on the level of the game, the Table Officials may be overseen by a Commissioner. Table Officials are also qualified by practical and theoretical examination to the grade appropriate for the level of the game. Table Officials and the Commissioner are paid a specified Game Fee and appropriate expenses for each game.