Archives: Rules

Rule 1-1

The playing court must be a rectangular surface free from obstructions and with dimensions not greater than 94 feet in length by 50 feet in width.

IDEAL MEASUREMENTS ARE: High School Age – 84 by 50 feet. These are the dimensions for the playing court only. Suggestions about construction and lighting are in Table 1-1, Number 3.

Rule 1-2

ART. 1 . . . The playing court must be marked with sidelines, end lines and other lines as shown in Figure 1-1. There must be at least 3 feet (and preferably 10 feet) of unobstructed space outside boundaries. The sidelines and end lines must be a minimum of 2 inches in width. If it is desirable to use contrasting colored-floor areas instead of the lines, see Table 1-1, Number 3.

ART. 2 . . . If, on an unofficial court, there is less than 3 feet of unobstructed space outside any sideline or end line, a narrow broken line must be marked on the court parallel with and 3 feet inside that boundary. This restraining line becomes the boundary line during a throw-in on that side or end, as in 7-6. It continues to be the boundary until the ball crosses the line.

Rule 1-3

ART. 1 . . . A restraining circle must be drawn at the center of the court with a radius of 6 feet measured to the outside edge. The edge of the circle must be designated with a minimum of a ¼-inch-wide single line but no wider than 2 inches. See Table 1-1, Number 3 if the use of contrasting colored-floor areas instead of a line is desirable. Spaces for non-jumpers around the center circle are 36 inches deep.

ART. 2 . . . A division line 2 inches wide, must divide the court into two equal parts. If the court is less than 74 feet long, it should be divided by two lines, each parallel to and 40 feet from the farther end line.

ART. 3 . . . Shadow-bordered lines are permissible. A shadow line is a line that designates the required width by use of border or outline lines at least ¼-inch wide, which must lie within the required width. Border lines that are the natural color of the court are permissible. The area within these lines need not be one color, but the continuous outline must be clearly visible to the officials. If the floor has a logo in the center of the court, that logo should not distract from the visibility of the division line or center circle.

Rule 1-4

ART. 1 . . . A three-point line, 2 inches wide in the form of a semicircle, must be drawn at each end of the court as shown in Figure 1-1. The semicircle has a radius of 19 feet 9 inches from a point in the middle of the free-throw lane directly below the center of the basket to the outside edge of the line. The semicircle must be extended with a 2-inch wide line perpendicular to the end line, the length of which must be 63 inches from the inside edge of the end line.

ART. 2 . . . The three-point line must be the same color as the free-throw lane boundary lines and free-throw semicircle.

Rule 1-5

ART. 1 . . . A free-throw lane, 12 feet wide measured to the outside of each lane boundary, and the semicircle with the free-throw line as a diameter, must be marked at each end of the court with dimensions and markings as shown in Figure 1-1. All lines designating the free-throw lane, but not lane-space marks are part of the lane.

ART. 2 . . . The lane-space marks (2 inches by 8 inches) identify areas which extend 36 inches from the outer edge of the lane lines toward the sidelines. There are three lane spaces on each lane boundary line.

ART. 3 . . . The free-throw lane line and semicircle must be the same color as the three-point line. See Table 1-1, No. 3 if the use of contrasting colored-floor areas instead of the lines is desirable.

Rule 1-6

A free-throw line, 2 inches wide, must be drawn across both circles, which have an outside radius of 6 feet as shown in Figure 1-1. It must be parallel to the end line and must have its farthest edge 15 feet from the plane of the face of the backboard.

Rule 1-7

ART. 1 . . . The backboards must be the same size at both ends of the court. The backboard must be one of three types:

(1) a rectangle 6 feet horizontally and 4 feet vertically; or

(2) a rectangle 6 feet horizontally and 3½ feet vertically; or

(3) a fan-shaped backboard, 54-inches wide and with dimensions as shown in Figure 1-2.

NOTE: The 6-foot horizontal and 3 1/2-foot vertical dimensions are recommended for replacement backboards or new installations.

ART. 2 . . . Each of the backboards must be of any rigid material. The front surface must be flat and, unless it is transparent, it must be white. Tinted glass backboards are prohibited. Figure 1-2 gives specifications for the three types of backboards. See Rule 1, Sections 7, 8, 9. It is not legal to paint a fan-shaped board on a rectangular backboard.

NOTE: For the fan-shaped backboard in transparent material, the recurved cut-out at the bottom may be filled in and the ring attached to the front of the backboard.

ART. 3 . . . If the backboard is transparent, it must be marked as follows: A rectangle must be centered behind the ring and marked by a 2-inch white line. The rectangle must have outside dimensions of 24 inches horizontally and 18 inches vertically. For the rectangular backboard, the top edge of the backboard must be level with the ring. For the fan-shaped backboard, the baseline must be omitted, and the two vertical lines must be extended to the bottom of the backboard. The rectangular target in a bright orange or black color may be used on a nontransparent backboard. The border of the backboard must be marked with a white line. The border must be 3 inches or less in width.

ART. 4 . . . Either type backboard may be transparent or nontransparent. No logo, marking, lettering, etc., is permitted on the backboard, backboard padding, or basket. Figure 1-2

Rule 1-8

ART. 1 . . . Each backboard must be midway between the sidelines, with the plane of its front face perpendicular to the floor, parallel to the end line, and 4 feet from it.

ART. 2 . . . The upper edge of the backboard must be 13 feet above the floor for the rectangular, and 12 feet 8 inches for the fan-shaped. The backboard must be protected from spectators to a distance of at least 3 feet at each end.

Rule 1-9

ART. 1 . . . The bottom and each side of the all-rectangular backboards must be padded with a poly high-carb vinyl-type material that meets the Bashor resilience test with a range of 20-30. The padding must cover the bottom surface of the board and the side surface to a distance of 15 inches up from the bottom. The front and back surfaces must be covered to a minimum distance of 3/4 inch from the bottom of the backboard. The padding must be 1 inch thick from the front and back surfaces of the backboard. The material must be 2 inches from the bottom edge of the backboard. It is recommended that the padding be mounted on the backboard by adhesive or material such as Velcro, channel, etc. The padding must be a single, solid color and must be the same color on both backboards.

ART. 2 . . . Any backboard support behind the backboard and at a height of less than 9 feet above the floor must be padded on the bottom surface to a distance of 2 feet from the face of the backboard. All portable backstops must have the bases padded to a height of 7 feet on the court-side surface.

ART. 3 . . . Clearances – As below and behind backboards, all support systems should be at least 8 feet behind the plane of the backboard face and at a height of 7 feet or more above the floor.

ART. 4 . . . Any backboard support, all of which is not directly behind the backboard, should be at least 6 inches behind it if the support extends above the top and at least 2 feet behind it if the support extends beyond the side. Any overhead backboard support structure which must be forward braced due to space limitations, architectural or structural restraints, must meet the following requirements: A front, diagonal-brace system must be located above a line extending upward and into the playing court at a maximum 45-degree angle from a point on a vertical line located a minimum of 6 inches behind the front side of the backboard at a minimum height of 4 feet 6 inches above the basket ring.

ART. 5 . . . Warning on misuse of portable backstops – Manufacturers and administrators should be aware of an “extreme-caution” warning relative to the misuse of portable backstops. A high degree of injury potential and a severe liability problem exists when players or spectators are allowed to hang, sit or stand on the basket ring or backboard. Administrators must see that this practice is eliminated or that the portable units are lowered at the completion of the game. There is a high risk of severe injury, even death, if this practice continues. A recommended warning or inscription such as “Danger – please do not get on the ring/backboard” is desirable.

Rule 1-10

ART. 1 . . . Each basket must consist of a single metal ring, 18 inches in inside diameter, its flange and braces, and a white-cord 12-mesh net, 15 to 18 inches in length, suspended from beneath the ring.

ART. 2 . . . Each ring must not be more than 5/8 inch in diameter, with the possible addition of small-gauge loops on the bottom edge for attaching a 12-mesh net. The ring and its attaching flange and braces must be bright orange in color.

ART. 3 . . . The cord of the net must be not less than 120-thread nor more than 144-thread twine, or plastic material of comparable dimensions with no additional extensions. It must be constructed to momentarily check the ball as it passes through.

Rule 1-11

ART. 1 . . . Each basket ring must be securely attached to the backboard/support system with a ring-restraining device. Such a device must ensure that the basket stays attached in the event a glass backboard breaks. Each basket ring must have its upper edge 10 feet above and parallel to the floor and must be equidistant from the vertical edges of the backboard. The nearest point of the inside edge of the ring must be 6 inches from the plane of the face of the backboard.

ART. 2 . . . Positive-lock breakaway, flex breakaway and fixed rings are legal. Breakaway basket rings must have rebound characteristics similar to those of fixed rings. The pressure-release mechanism should ensure these characteristics, as well as protect both the ring and backboard. The design of the ring and its construction should ensure player safety.

ART. 3 . . . For those rings with a breakaway mechanism, the pressure release mechanism must be preset so that rings do not deflect more than ½ inch when subjected to static load of 50 pounds and may be sealed or field adjustable. When released, the positive-lock breakaway ring must not rotate more than 30 degrees below the original horizontal position. After release and with the load no longer applied, the ring must return automatically and instantaneously to the original position.

NOTE: It is recommended that schools have the basket rings tested for rules compliance.

Rule 1-12

ART. 1 . . . The ball must meet the following specifications:

a. Its solid color must be Pantone Matching System (PMS) Orange 151, Red-Orange 173 or Brown 1535, effective 2019-20.

b. It must be spherical.

c. It must have a deeply-pebbled cover with horizontally shaped panels bonded tightly to the rubber carcass.

d. The circumference must be:

1. Within a minimum of 29½ inches to a maximum of 30 inches for high school boys competition.
2. Within a minimum of 28½ inches to a maximum of 29 inches for high school girls competition.

e. The weight must be: Figure 1-3

1. Within a minimum of 20 ounces to a maximum of 22 ounces for high school boys competition.
2. Within a minimum of 18 ounces to a maximum of 20 ounces for high school girls competition.

f. The black rubber rib separating the panels must not exceed ¼ inch in width.

g. The ball must include the NFHS Authenticating Mark. The mark can be displayed in either format shown in Figure 1-3. A current list of NFHS authenticated products can be found on the Web site,

NOTE: By state association adoption, either legal-size ball may be used for boys junior high school competition.

ART. 2 . . . The ball must be inflated to an air pressure such that when it is dropped to the playing surface from a height of 6 feet, measured to the bottom of the ball, it must 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, nor more than 54 inches when it strikes on its most resilient spot. NOTE: To be legal, the air pressure which will give the required reaction must be stamped on it. The pressure for game use must make the ball bounce legally.

ART. 3 . . . The home team must provide a ball which meets the specifications. The referee must be the sole judge of the legality of the ball and may select a ball provided by the visiting team.

Rule 1-13

ART. 1 . . . The location of each team’s bench must be designated by game management. It is recommended that the benches for team members and coaches of both teams be placed along that side of the court on which the scorer’s and timer’s table is located.

ART. 2 . . . The coaching box must be outlined outside the side of the court on which the scorer’s and timer’s table and team benches are located. The area must be bounded by a line drawn 28 feet from the end line towards the division line. At this point, a line drawn from the sideline toward the team bench becomes the end of the coaching box going towards the end line. These lines must be located off the court and be 2 inches wide. The same directions should be followed for the other side of the scorer’s and timer’s table.

NOTE: State associations may alter the length and placement of the 28- foot (maximum) coaching box.

ART. 3 . . . The time-out area must be the area inside an imaginary rectangle formed by the boundaries of the sideline (including the bench), end line, and an imaginary line extended from the free-throw lane line nearest the bench area meeting an imaginary line extended from the coaching-box line.

Rule 1-14

A red light behind each backboard or an LED light on each backboard is permitted to signal that time has expired for a quarter or extra period. In facilities without a red light behind or an LED light on each backboard, the audible timer’s signal must indicate that time has expired.

Rule 1-15

A visible game clock and scoreboard are mandatory. An alternate timing device and scoring information system must be available in the event of malfunction.