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Ask The Hoops Official!

Following are questions asked by our readers concerning the rules of basketball, as well as other aspects of the sport. If you have a question for Vince Iandoli, send it to


Hi! got stuck doing 6th, 7th, 8th grade girls game for a friend of mine in Gibbstown youth program. Much to my dismay they played 10 minute stopped clock quarters! I tried to talk them out of it (I was getting $12.50 a game) but they refused. I know it is not legal in high schools and junior high, but do you have any rule to back me up to talk them out of this? I can't think of anything, other than it is just ridiculous. Thanks.   (Chris from Sewell)


Take a look at Rule 5 Section 5 Article 2. It states that games involving students below ninth grade should be played in six-minute quarters.


I realize that inbounding the ball after a basket, the offensive team is allowed 10 seconds to cross the half-court line. But on a turnover, in the back-court, is there a time limit for the offensive team to cross the half-court line?   (George from Pleasant Hill, CA)


When the offensive team, Team A, is advancing the ball in their backcourt, they have 10 seconds to get the ball into the frontcourt. If there is a turnover in the backcourt, that means the other team, Team B, has gained control of the ball in Team B's frontcourt. No longer is their a time limit on Team A.

However, I think your question really is: if while Team A is advancing the ball in their backcourt and Team B knocks the ball away from a Team A player, what is the time limit? If this is the case, then the 10 second time limit continues. Team A remains in control of the ball until Team B physically gains control of the ball in the backcourt. If Team A were to be granted a time out in the backcourt, then a new 10 second count would begin when the ball is inbounded following the time-out. The key to the rule is that it has to be a continuous 10 seconds.


After taking one and a half steps after the final dribble, is it a travel if that player passes the ball, or MUST that player shoot? ex. Player A1 dribbles towards the basket. A1 and A2 are on a 2-on-1 break. A1 ends his dribble, and begins his lay-up. At the peak of his jump to the goal, B1 jumps at A1 to block the shot. A1, before landing, tosses a pass to A2, who catches it and lays it in. Is this a travel on A1?   (Keith from Old Bridge)


If a player has ended his dribble and legally rises for a lay-up as you mention, and he/she sees that a defensive player may block his shot, he/she is allowed to pass the ball to another player. That is not a traveling violation on that player.

I would like to clear up your concept of one and a half steps after a final dribble.

Once a player has established his/her pivot foot, the ball must leave the player's hand before the pivot foot is raised from the floor to start a dribble. If a player is passing the ball or attempting to take a shot, the player may step with his non-pivot foot and raise his/her pivot to release the ball. The ball must be released before the pivot foot returns to the floor. Therefore, the player is only allowed one step, that is with the non-pivot foot. The half step that I think you mean is the pivot foot that is in the air going toward the basket during the lay-up.

I hope I have cleared this up for you.


Our daughter is nine years old and has just started playing basketball on her school team. We would like to paint lines on our driveway for the free throw line box. They play the 3 second rule. How far from the front of the rim to the free throw line and how wide is the box?   (Lori from Manitowoc)


It is great to hear that your daughter is interested in basketball at nine years of age.

The free throw lane is 12 foot wide measured to the outside of each lane boundary. The free throw line is 15' from the front surface of the backboard. The backboard is actually located 4' from the endline. A semicircle is projected from the center point of the free throw line with a 6' radius.

In playing the three second rule, you must keep in mind several factors.

  1. The 3 second rule applies when a team is in control of the ball in its frontcourt.
  2. There is no team control when the ball is in flight for a try for goal.
  3. There is no team control during rebounding action.
  4. There is an exception to the rule. When a player is in the lane less than 3 seconds and receives the ball and is attempting a try for goal, that player is allowed additional time.

I think I may have given you more information that you asked but I hope it gives a better understanding of the three second rule.


What are the official rules concerning the bounciness of the ball in basketball?   (Ashly & Devon from Austin)


A ball shall be inflated to an air pressure such that when it is dropped to the playing surface from a height of 6', measured to the bottom of the ball, it shall rebound to a height, measured to the top of the ball, of not less than 49 inches when it strikes on its least resilient spot, not more than 54 inches when it strikes on its most resilient spot.

Officials are instructed to check the bounce of a ball before the start of a game by doing this test on the playing surface, the court. The home team is required to provide the ball for the game. If the referee is not satisfied with the ball provided by the home team, he/she may select a ball from the visiting team.

Official's Tip:

The following play situation was posed to me by one of my officials:

A player is in-bounding the ball on his end line and the throw-in pass is deflected (no control) by a teammate into the back court. It is then retrieved by that player. One of the coaches, who has been a high coach for a number of years, felt that a back court violation should have been called. The official correctly did not call a back court violation because control of the ball had not been gained by the team making the throw-in before the ball went to the back court.

The phrase that I use to teach the back court violation is : last control, last touch, first touch in the back court. You must remember that a back court violation does not occur until the ball is touched in the back court by the team causing it to go to the back court.


If a player on Team A commits a foul on a player on Team B, and it is a side throw in for Team B, can Team A call for a substitution at this time?   (Jim from Melbourne)


When the ball is dead and the clock is stopped, either team can make substitutions. The exception of course is if multiple free throws are to be attempted. Then an official will only accept substitutes before the final free throw or after the last free is successful. We already covered that point earlier.

In the situation stated, either team can make a substitute. The horn should be sounded as soon as the ball becomes dead (when the foul is committed) and the clock is stopped. Once the ball is placed at the disposal of the Team B player to make the throw-in, the ball becomes live. Meaning that substitutes would not be accepted.

A request for a time-out should also be considered in this situation. When the ball is dead, either team can be granted a time-out. When the ball is live only the team in control of the ball (player control must exist) can be granted a time-out. Therefore, once the ball is at the disposal of the player from Team B, Team A would not be granted a time-out if requested. Team B could request a time-out up to the 5th second and be granted a time-out.

Therefore, if Team A wants to make a substitution or request a time-out, it has to be done before the ball is placed at the disposal of Team B in the situation stated.


When can a team make a substitution during a multiple free throw personal foul?   (Frank from Camden)


As a rule change for the 1998-99 season, when multiple free throws are to be attempted for a PERSONAL foul, substitutes may only enter the game before the final attempt in the sequence or after the final free throw is successful.

This change at the Federation level now agrees with NCAA play.

whistle.gif Vince Iandoli has been the rules interpreter and cadet instructor with International Association of Approved Basketball Officials (IAABO) Board #34 for the past 20 years. As rules interpreter, he presents any rule changes to officials and conference coaches each year. He has acted as a clinician for the State of New Jersey on two occasions presenting floor mechanics to officials in the South Jersey area, and also conducts first year cadet classes.

whistle.gifFIBA Official Basketball Rules

whistle.gifNCAA Basketball Rule Book

whistle.gifNFHS Basketball Rules

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