Basketball official rules & regulations

Updated March 23, 2017

The game of basketball is highly organised to the point where there is a set of rules and regulations that govern the game at all levels. Basketball rules and regulations serve as a way to ensure the game is played fairly and that everybody has an equal chance at being successful.

Court Size and Lines

NCAA regulations state that the basketball court itself be a rectangular surface that is free of obstructions with sidelines of 94 feet in length and end lines that are 50 feet in length. The three-point line for the men's game should be 20 feet, 9 inches from the basket while the women's three-point line should be 19 feet 9 inches from the basket.


Basketball regulations state that a player who is substituting into an organised game must give the official scorekeeper his jersey number. Giving the scorer your number will allow him to easily keep track of who is in the game in the official book. If a substitute is going into a game between halves, then either the player or a coach must tell the scorekeeper before the halftime period ends. Any substitute who goes in the game during a timeout must report to the scorer's table before the warning horn sounds. A player who reports after the warning horn will not be allowed to substitute in.


Travelling is a very common call in the game of basketball. The official rules state that travelling will be called when a player moves both feet while holding the ball and not dribbling or moves his pivot foot when holding the ball and not dribbling. Travelling will result in the other team getting the basketball. The opposing team will enter it from out of bounds near the point where the travelling violation occurred.


The NCAA states that there have been increases in excessive swinging of the elbows. Elbowing can cause injury, thus making it a rule that is closely followed in basketball. If a player is swinging his elbows at a speed that is higher than the rest of his body, he is in violation of the rule. Any player who is elbowing will have a flagrant foul called on him. This means that the other team will get to shoot a foul shot in addition to getting control of the basketball.

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About the Author

Tyler Ellington is a freelance journalist whose work consists of a wide variety of topics. A freelance journalist since 2007, Ellington typically spends most of his time writing about sports, business and technology. His work has appeared on various websites. He earned his master's degree from California University of Pennsylvania.