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Basketball: The Clock and Timing

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Stop watch for basketball

How long is a basketball game?

Basketball games are played a set amount of time. It's different for different leagues and levels of play: When does the clock run?

The clock runs whenever the ball is in play. The clock is stopped whenever the ball goes out of bounds, a foul is called, free throws are being shot, and during time outs. When the ball is inbound, the clock starts once a player touches the ball.

In the NBA the clock stops after a made shot during the last two minutes of the game and overtime. For college it stops during the last minute of the game and overtime.


If the game is tied after regulation time, there will be overtime. Overtime is 5 minutes long in most leagues. Additional overtimes will be added until one team ends up on top.

The Shot Clock

In order to speed up the game and to prevent teams from stalling, a shot clock was added. This is how long you have to shoot the ball. If the ball changes possession or hits the rim of the basket, the shot clock starts over. The length of the shot clock is different for different basketball leagues: Not all states have a shot clock for high school. Where they do, it generally follows the NCAA rules.

Time outs

Thirty second time out
30 second time out signal

In order to give your team some rest, call a play, or just stop the game for a while, teams can call a time out. There are different rules on time outs for different leagues:

High School - Players on the floor or the coach can call a time out. There are five time outs per game including three 60-second time outs and two 30-second time outs.

NCAA College - There are a different number of time outs depending on whether the game is on TV or not. This is because during a TV game there are media time outs so the TV channel can show ads. For a TV game each team gets one 60-second time out and four 30-second time outs. For a non-TV game each team has four 75-second and two 30-second time outs.

NBA - In the NBA each basketball team has six full time outs and one 20-second time out per half. Only a player in the game can call a time out.

More Basketball Links:

Basketball Rules
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The Clock and Timing
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Small Forward
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Basketball Strategy
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Offensive Plays

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Fun Basketball Games

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Michael Jordan
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Kevin Durant

Basketball Leagues
National Basketball Association (NBA)
List of NBA Teams
College Basketball

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