What’s New and Changing in the World of Basketball Rules

Every springtime, basketball fever hits. First comes March Madness and then the NBA finals.

But to the seasoned player basketball doesn’t start with a season and end in the finals. It’s year a year round obsession.

And if you want to get better, you can’t hang up your shorts in the summer and wait until next season.

But what happens when you’ve practiced all summer and get to the court only to find out the rules have changed? You quickly realized that the tradition of basketball isn’t always going to be the same.

To remain competitive, you must know what’s changing and what’s new. Basketball rules are no exception.

In the next few paragraphs, we’ll give you a short history of basketball’s rules and then talk about how they’re changing. Keep scrolling to learn more.

1. Basketball Rules: A Short History

Did you know that basketball is the only sport that completely originated in the United States? Most “American” sports we know today are a variation on some other sport. Not so with basketball.

While the inventor, Dr. James Naismith, used a soccer ball, the rest of the game does not resemble soccer at all. No goals or goalies allowed, the man simply hung bottomless baskets to opposing balconies in a gymnasium and started the game.

The original game of basketball looked slightly different than what we see today. Each team played with nine players instead of five.

There were only thirteen basketball rules in the first game of basketball.

  1. You can throw the ball in any direction with one or both hands.
  2. You can bat the ball in any direction with an open palm (no fists).
  3. You can’t run with the ball. You have to throw it from where you catch it. (If it takes you a split second to stop, that’s ok)
  4. You can’t hold the ball between your arm and your body. It must stay in your hands until thrown.
  5. No shouldering, pushing, holding, tripping, or striking another player. If you do this is a foul. If you do it twice you’re out till the next goal and not substitute is allowed.
  6. Hitting the ball with your fist is a foul.
  7. If your side performs three fouls in a row, the other side gets a point.
  8. If a ball makes it into the basket and the defenders don’t touch the basket, it’s a goal. Defenders will cause an automatic goal if they touch the basket and move it to stop a shot.
  9. If the ball goes out of bounds, the person who throws it in has five seconds to pass it. Otherwise, it goes to the opponent.
  10. An umpire has the power to write down the three consecutive fouls and call resulting points and disqualify players.
  11. A referee has the power to call in-bounds, call goals, and keep time.
  12. The game is only two fifteen minute halves with a five-minute rest.
  13. The most goals decide the winner. A tie is determined with extra game time.

The Game Changed

If you’re familiar with the game of basketball, you’ll see that basketball rules are quite different today. Some of the rules certainly echo that first game in 1891. But the game is largely different.

Today, you can dribble the ball down the field. The only game that uses the stationary-until-passed rule is ultimate frisbee, not basketball.

And today many more rules sit atop the original 13. Expansions on what a foul means. A redefinition of who a referee is and what they do.

And, of course, the reduction of players on a team necessitated by the inclusion of dribbling. With such a large ball, without dribbling, 9 players made sense. You needed to span the distance of the court.

But with more individual movement allowed, the court suddenly became crowded. A team of nine players was no longer feasible.

2. What’s Changing Today

Since the early 20th-century basketball rules went through a lot of changes. From its inclusion of women to a broader definition of what a foul might be.

And the NCAA is looking to change the game once more.

While nobody has officially changed the rules, the committee is recommending a few rules changes for the coming season.

This isn’t an unusual thing for the NCAA. Last year they changed how the game balanced between offense and defense. They saw a significant point difference between the two years.

The committee is examining the unintended side effects, if any, from significant rule changes for college basketball. And they hope to continue these efforts while still promoting the rules they wish changed this next season.

What Rules Does the NCAA Want Revised?

The coaches box in basketball is typically only 28 feet. The coach must stay in this box during the game.

The NCAA proposes an expansion of this box to allow better communication between players and coach. They want to expand the box to 38 feet.

They also want a shot clock reset when a player inbounds the ball after a foul. If more than 20 seconds is on the shot clock then the clock won’t be reset. This discourages opposing teams from illegally obstructing free-throws.

Thow-in spots aren’t particularly set in stone in basketball. The NCAA wants to make throw-in spots concrete.

Referees have always had a lot of power, even at basketball’s inception. But the referee is still limited in his perspective.

With the advent of television and video cameras, a referee can now watch instant replays. Typically a referee will use this to determine fouls and other violations.

The NCAA wants to expand the use of instant replays to determine whether a secondary defender was in or outside of a restricted zone.

Conclusion: Basketball Rules Changes Should Be Fair

The NCAA and other basketball organizations are always looking for ways to make the game both more exciting and fair. These rules changes aren’t meant to create an unfair advantage.

This is why the committee doesn’t implement rules without a thorough investigation into the possible effects the change will have on the game.

If you want some awesome tips on basketball, check out our basketball training guide. You can also get in touch!