High School Basketball Rules & Regulations

High School Basketball Rules

As well as being an athletic competition, high school basketball rules feature many points that make it an educational experience. A teen’s chance to get noticed by college and professional scouts can be found in high school basketball, where the emphasis is on teamwork.

Basketball Rules and Regulations

High school sports are governed by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS). They set the standard for competitive high school basketball and are available on Amazon in ebook format for about $7. The rules of high school basketball differ greatly from those of college and the NBA.

Basketball Sizes

Balls with a diameter of 29.5 inches are used in all levels of basketball played by boys and men over the age of 12. Girls and women over 12 use a ball with a circumference of 28.5 inches at all levels.

Game Length

Four eight-minute quarters are acceptable for high school teams. In men’s college basketball, there are two twenty-minute halves, while in women’s college basketball, there are four ten-minute periods. There are four twelve-minute periods in the NBA.


In a timeout, the clock is stopped for a short period so teams can substitute players, strategize, or rest players.

  • Timeouts are taken every 60 seconds and every 30 seconds in high school games. The player or head coach may request these timeouts, and if both teams are ready, the timeout may be reduced.
  • High school teams that request too many timeouts will be penalized with technical fouls.
  • A college game can be stopped after three 30-second timeouts and one 60-second timeout if the media is present, or after four 75-second timeouts and two 30-second timeouts if the media is not present.
  • In men’s college basketball, additional timeout requests are not a technical foul, but rather two shots, and in women’s college basketball, the ball is lost after two shots.
  • Each NBA team gets seven 60-second timeouts per game and one 20-second timeout per half.

Legal Guarding Position

As soon as a defensive player has both feet on the ground and is facing an offensive player, he establishes a legal guarding position. It is possible for a legal position to be established anywhere on the court in high school. 

In college and in the NBA, with the exception that a secondary defender can’t get a legal guarding position in a restricted area of four feet under the basket in an attempt to draw an offensive foul, a secondary defender cannot get a legal guarding position in a restricted area.

Technical Fouls

In basketball, a technical foul is called when a player, team, or coach commits an act of unsportsmanlike conduct or commits a foul that does not involve physical contact between players on the court, but rather involves an act of unsportsmanlike conduct.

  • After a technical foul has been called during high school basketball, the offended team is allowed two free throws and possession is awarded to the team that committed the foul. The game is restarted by a throw-in from the opposite side of the table.
  • In college basketball, two free throws are allowed at the point of interruption of play, and the game is resumed at that point.
  • The ball is also lost when there is a technical foul committed in women’s college basketball.
  • A person who receives two technical fouls for unsportsmanlike conduct in one game at any level of the game will be ejected from that game.
  • For every technical foul a player commits in the NBA, he or she must pay a fine.

Airborne Shooter

It is understood that a shooter is airborne during a high school game when he or she is in the air after releasing an attempted shot or tap after releasing the ball. As far as men’s college ball goes, there are no rules, and as far as women’s college ball goes, it is the same as in high school.

Closely Guarding

It is necessary for a defender to be within 6 feet of the offensive player in order to be closely guarded. In a high school game, close guarding is a term used to describe when a player is holding or dribbling at the frontcourt from a distance of six feet or closer. 

In college ball, there is the same rule, but it pertains only to holding the ball and not dribbling it.

Post Play

An offensive player is said to be on a post play if she is holding the ball with her back to the basket while handling the ball. The use of an extended arm bar during post play is not allowed for high school players. Forearms are allowed to be used by college players when playing.

Jump Ball

In basketball, a jump ball is when an official throws the ball up in the air to start or restart a game, and two opposing players then attempt to control the ball by grabbing it. It is mandatory for any re-jump in high school to be conducted by the players who were involved in the jump before establishing team control. 

It is possible for any two players in college to re-jump at the same time.

Three-Second Rule

There is a rule that allows high school players and college men to keep one foot in the lane if the other foot is in the air to avoid a three-second violation. In women’s college basketball, both feet must be on the court outside the free-throw lane at the same time.

Ten-Second Rule

With the team having ten seconds to make it over the mid-court line starting from the backcourt, the time starts when a player has control of the ball. During college ball, the count begins once the ball is touched by the legal hand after it has been thrown in.

Game Disqualifications

When a player commits his fifth foul or his second technical foul during a high school game, he is disqualified from the game. It is considered disqualifying for a head coach if he or she commits three direct or indirect fouls, or two direct technical fouls in a row. 

The disqualification process in men’s college basketball happens after the fifth personal foul, including direct and intentional fouls, has been committed.

Administrative Warnings

As a coach in high school basketball, there is a variety of minor infractions that can result in an administrative warning, including entering the court without permission, disrespectfully addressing an official, standing on the team bench, or violating the coach-box rule. 

When playing college football, the only administrative warning given to a coach is when they are outside the coach’s box or use specific tactics to delay the start of the game.

Uniform Rules for High School Basketball

For all competitive games, players are provided with standard shorts and a jersey depicting the colors of their respective teams, which must be worn at all times.

  • For home games, jerseys must be white, and for away games, jerseys must be dark colors clearly distinguished from white.
  • There must be a solid color on the torso of the jersey, not a pattern on it.
  • There must be a visible number on the front and back of the jersey and the color of the jersey must be the same on both sides. There should be at least four inches of height on the front of the shirt, and six inches of height on the back.
  • There is a wide range of jersey numbers from 00 to 15, 20 to 25, 30 to 35, 40 to 45, and 50 to 55.
  • An American flag can be added to each jersey which is not larger than 2 inches by 3 inches and does not cover the player’s number on the back of the jersey.
  • There must be a consistency in the length of the sleeves on all undershirts.
  • When medical or religious reasons for wearing headgear are documented and shared with the officials at each game, headgear may be allowed for these reasons.
  • There is a rule which states that players are not allowed to remove their jerseys or pants within the visual field of the playing surface.

Sportsmanship and Game Etiquette

There is a high level of respect for the rules and good sportsmanship at all levels of basketball, regardless of the level.

  • In high school baseball, the head coach of a team is the only person allowed to communicate with game officials on behalf of the team.
  • There is no tolerance for fighting at a high school game, and fighting will result in immediate ejection from the game. If a coach or player is ejected from a college football game or team, they will be suspended for one game, and if they are suspended for the whole season for repeat offenses, they will be suspended for the entire season.
  • A player who is knocked unconscious during a high school basketball game is not allowed to return to the game without clearance from a physician before returning to the game. As far as college basketball is concerned, there is no such mandatory rule.

Official Rule Changes

Often, when governing agencies review their regulations and any issues that occurred, they are able to find new ways to clarify them, update them, or change them entirely as a result.

  • A high school extra period lasts for four minutes, whereas in college and in the NBA an extra period lasts for five minutes.
  • It is a requirement for basketball officials to arrive fifteen (15) minutes before the start of the game in order to take part in the game. It is a requirement in college men’s basketball for an official to be on the court 20 minutes before the game is scheduled to start.
  • In the second half or overtime, there are no rules regarding the use of a shot clock, stop clock, or substitution with less than one minute or less remaining in the game.
  • The size of the coaching box in the NFL is now limited to a maximum of 28 feet, whereas in college it has been extended to a maximum size of 38 feet.
  • It is legal for coaching bench personnel to take videos during a high school basketball game. In college basketball games, videotaping is only permitted at the courtside area where the game is taking place.
  • An official rule of high school basketball is that the use of a replay monitor is forbidden during a game. There is no such thing as a college game where this is true.

High School Basketball Rules – The Areas of Difference

As far as college basketball regulations are concerned, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) is in charge of that, while the NBA has its own set of rules. The following are some of the areas in which high school basketball rules differ from those in college and the NBA:

  • Differentiating between games is based on the physical environment and the length of the game
  • The importance of uniforms in building teamwork and continuity
  • Timeouts, fouls, defensive plays and other basketball rules and regulations
  • An understanding of sportsmanship and game etiquette is essential
  • Various officials are involved in the game – referees on court, stop and shot clocks, etc.

Get In the Game

As a high school basketball player, learning the rules of the game is the first step to becoming a great player. Ultimately, it is the responsibility of each player to understand the game and to work within the rules in order to help their team win.

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