Rules of the Game

First rules of basketball


Originally written "Basket Ball", the game consisted of just 13 rules as first established by Naismith in 1891. Today, only two of the original 13 rules apply to the game as written. In late 2010, the rules were auctioned for just over $4.3 million and fittingly, are now on permanent display at Allen Fieldhouse on campus at Kansas University. Why is this fitting? Naismith was the first basketball coach in Kansas history and lasted in his position for nine years only to later become the school's Athletic Director for 23 years. He now holds Emeritus status within the university.

Commonly misunderstood rules

Traveling - Occurs when a player, after having established a pivot foot, relocates the pivot foot. Therefore, a player is legal to lift their pivot foot but must pass or shoot prior to their pivot foot returning the floor. If they slide their pivot foot, this also results in traveling as the foot has now been relocated to a different position on the court.

Reaching - This is not a foul and is not located in the rule book. It is a common reference to say, "they're reaching". However, the act of reaching is not illegal unless contact occurs which then results in either a hand check, push, hold, or other action that is determined to be a foul.

Over the back - This is also not a foul and is not located in the rule book. It is a common reference to say, "over the back" for a foul in which a player gets a rebound by coming through the back of another player. However, for it be a foul, there must be displacement which results in a push or other foul. Merely, going over the back does not mean a foul has occured if there is no contact or displacement.

Goaltending & Basket Interference - These terms are often referenced interchangeably. However, they have significantly different meanings. Goaltending only occurs if contact is made with the ball while it is on it's downward flight and has a chance of going into the basket. Basket intereference has to do with contacting the ball or basket while the ball is on or within the basket, while the ball is within the imaginary cylinder from basket to ceiling with the basket as its base, touching the ball outside the basket while reaching through the basket, or pulling down the basket so that it contacts the ball before returning to its original position. Likewise, there is a common play in which a defender attempts a block shot only to miss the back and slap the backboard causing the basket to rattle and the shot to be missed. In this circumstance, on of two things occurs: either the action is ignored if in the official's judgment the defender was making a legitimate block attempt or a technical foul is assessed for the player slapping the backboard while not making an attempt to play the ball.

Backcourt violations (commonly referred to as "over-and-back") - These plays are commonly misunderstood as fans often view a play in which a player has contacted the frontcourt and continues action into the backcourt as a violation. However, a violation can only occur if a player is the first to touch the ball in the backcourt after it has been in team control in the frontcourt and that player or a teammate last touched or were touched by the ball in the frontcourt before it went to the backcourt and the other team did not gain team control during the interval.

Carry - The common misconception in this circumstance is that a player may dribble as high as they want, permitted the ball does not come to rest and they're hand remains on top of the ball.

3 seconds - Only applies while their is team control in the frontcourt. There is no team control during a shot attempt. Therefore, once a shot has been attempted, a player does not have to leave the restricted area until 2 seconds after their team has again gained control.

Governing Bodies

At each level of play, the league itself determines the rules by which it plays. This includes; the NBA, international professional leagues, NCAA, and the most applicable in this circumstance is the National Federation of State High School Association which governs all play at the high school and interscholastic levels.