Official Basketball Rules for All Levels

official basketball rules

One thing about official basketball rules. They aren't "one size fits all." In fact, not since James Naismith first published his original 13 rules, has there been one standard set of regulations.

So, before you become one of those uninformed screaming fans, learn the rules for the league you're watching.

Many spectators assume the rules of basketball are the same whether they're attending a high school, college, or NBA game.

But they're not...

Basketball game rules vary depending on a variety of factors:

  • Age of players
  • Gender of players
  • Level of competition
  • Youth basketball league
  • State high school athletic association

Looking for youth, NCAA, or high school basketball rules? How about regulations for the NBA, WNBA, or FIBA?

You'll find them all here.

Most of the basic rules regarding positions, scoring, fundamental skills, fouls, violations, etc. are similar across leagues, but there are some significant differences that are important to know.

Here are just a few examples:

Take a look at each competitive level below to learn more.

Official Basketball Rules
Youth basketball rules

Unlike the other levels of competition, youth basketball leagues are not governed by a single legislative body. As a result, youth basketball rules vary depending on the organization running the league. Learn more about common rules and guidelines for kids leagues.

Official Basketball Rules
High school basketball rules

The National Federation of State High School Associations writes and governs the high school basketball rules in the U.S. And though every public school district across the country is governed by the same set of regulations, each state interscholastic athletic association publishes its own handbook with additional rules unique to its member school districts.

Official Basketball Rules
College basketball rules

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) oversees the college game. The NCAA has separate men's and women's basketball rules committees that determine the game regulations for men's and women's intercollegiate basketball. 

Download your free copy of the latest NCAA basketball rules.

Official Basketball Rules
NBA & WNBA basketball rules

There are professional basketball leagues in the U.S. for both men and women, and each league has its own set of official basketball rules.

Professional competition for men in the U.S. is governed by the National Basketball Association. Find the latest NBA basketball rules.

The professional women's league follows the WNBA rules set forth by the Women's National Basketball Association.

Official Basketball Rules
FIBA basketball rules

Official basketball rules for international competition are established by the Federation Internationale de Basketball, or FIBA. European leagues play under slightly different game rules than we use in the U.S.

When teams from around the world face each other in competition in the Olympics or World Championships, for example, FIBA basketball rules are used. 

Related articles

Basic Basketball Rules

Naismith's Original 13 Rules

See How the Basketball Game Rules Have Changed!

  1. Home
  2.  ›
  3. Basketball Facts
  4.  ›
  5. Official Rules
Share this page:
Enjoy this page? Please pay it forward. Here's how...

Would you prefer to share this page with others by linking to it?

  1. Click on the HTML link code below.
  2. Copy and paste it, adding a note of your own, into your blog, a Web page, forums, a blog comment, your Facebook account, or anywhere that someone would find this page valuable.