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Youth Basketball Rules For Players, Parents & Coaches


Are you familiar with all of the Youth Basketball Rules? If not, that’s okay. You’ve come to the right place for help.

The rules used in youth basketball are established by the National Federation of State High School Associations. Now, depending on the level of competition, these youth basketball rules are often modified to suit the level of play.

I’ll give you an example. When I coached junior high basketball, teams were not allowed to press until the last two minute of each half. I’ll give you another example. In our Saturday youth league, players have to play straight man-to-man defense – no zone. These are two good examples to illustrate how the established rules were modified to suit the different levels of competition.

The youth basketball rules cover many different areas and aspects of the game. This page is designed to give you a brief overview of the basic basketball rules, as well as links to other pages that will expand on each of the various topics.

I feel that, in order to have a thorough knowledge of the game, you need to understand the youth basketball rules. This is equally important for players, parents and coaches.

By learning and understanding the rules of basketball…

  • Players will be much more effective on the basketball court. They will be able to understand and communicate better with their coach and teammates.
  • Parents will have more knowledge about the game and how it’s played. They will be able to help their child understand the game better as well.
  • Coaches will be more effective at coaching and teaching their players. They will also gain more confidence in their coaching ability.

The basic youth basketball rules are very simple to learn and understand. This is great for everyone involved! If the rules were too difficult to understand or too hard to play by – the game would not be as fun to play, watch or coach!

I will cover the basic basketball rules used in today’s game. These rules have changed and evolved over the years to adapt to the changes in how the game is played. A good example of this would be the introduction of the three-point line.

To see how much the rules have changed over the years, check out Dr. James Naismith’s Original 13 Rules of Basketball! For those who don’t know, he invented the game of basketball.

It is important to understand that the basketball rules I have listed below are the basic rules of the game. To thoroughly understand the rules I would recommend that you click on the links below to get more information, or read an official rules book on the game of basketball.

In addition to this, please visit our page on basketball referee signals to learn about the signals used by the referee during a basketball game.

Basic Youth Basketball Rules

  • Two teams each have five players on the court at one time. Learn more about the five basketball player positions.
  • The basketball player equipment is quite simple. Players should wear comfortable basketball shoes, athletic socks, loose fitting shorts and a shirt or jersey.
  • Each team tries to score by shooting the basketball through the hoop.
  • The basketball dimension is 29 inches around. This size is modified for younger players and girls competition.
  • The hoop is an 18 inch cylinder attached to the backboard and positioned 10 feet off the ground.
  • The dimensions of the court vary depending on the level of competition. Typically a youth basketball court measures 74′ long by 42’wide. To learn more about this, please visit our page on basketball court dimensions.
  • The basketball court has various markings which indicate certain game activities or restrictions. Some of the various basketball court markings are: Baseline, Center Circle, Free Throw Line, Midcourt Line and Sidelines.
  • Each team tries to prevent their opponent from scoring by stealing the ball or blocking a shot.
  • The ball is moved down the court by either passing it to a teammate or dribbling it.
  • The game continues until a basket is scored or the ball goes out of bounds. The opposite team would then gain possession of the ball.
  • The length of the game depends on the level of competition. Youth leagues typically play two twenty minute halves, often with a running clock. From the junior high level through the varsity level, four quarters are played each lasting eight minutes.

Youth Basketball Rules – Violations

  • Play stops on all rules violations.
  • The opponent gains possession of the ball after a violation.
  • Some of the more common ball-handling violations are: Charging, Double Dribble, Over-and-Back, and Traveling.
  • Some of the more common time violations are: 3 seconds in the lane, 5 seconds in possession of the basketball, 5 seconds on an inbound play, and 10 seconds in the backcourt with the basketball.
  • For a more thorough description of the various violations committed by players, please visit our page on basketball violations.

Youth Basketball Rules – Fouls

  • Play stops on all fouls.
  • A foul is committed when a player initiates illegal contact with an opposing player.
  • Fouls are committed by both offensive and defensive players, but more commonly by a defender.
  • After a foul is committed and depending on which type of foul it is, one of two things will happen: a. The opposing team gains possession of the ball, or b. The fouled player shoots free throws.
  • Some of the more common fouls are: Blocking, Charging, Holding, Illegal Screen, Over-the-Back, Reaching In, Shooting Fouls, and Tripping.
  • Some other fouls that are sometimes committed are: Flagrant Fouls, Intentional Fouls, and Technical Fouls.
  • If you would like to get more information on these fouls and other fouls committed during the game, please check out our page on basketball fouls.


I hope you found these Youth Basketball Rules to be helpful and informative. Learning and understanding the rules of the game is so important for players, parents and coaches. The better you understand the game – the more you will be able to enjoy playing, watching and coaching it!

If you need more great information on these basketball rules or other basketball topics, I would suggest you purchase some good basketball books and videos. These will provide you with a wealth of knowledge about the game of basketball.