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Basketball Shooting Rules

By Sam Amico

Before mastering the basics of shooting a basketball, it's important you understand the game's rules.

Jump Shots

Most levels of basketball allow you to take a step and a half to plant your feet after receiving a pass. That means catching the ball, standing in the same spot and taking one step as you push off your feet to shoot.


A layup is shot taken near the basket, often in the vicinity of many defenders. The one-step-before-a-dribble rule applies here as well. Also, pushing defenders away with your nonshooting hand is forbidden.

Free Throws

Players can take as many steps as they would like without dribbling when shooting a foul shot, provided they remain behind the free-throw line and in front of the back, arching boundary--although most stand in one spot to focus on their shot. Once receiving the ball from the referee, you have 10 seconds to shoot a foul shot.

Shot Clocks

The professional and collegiate levels consist of shot clocks in which a team has a certain amount of time to shoot. The rule is 24 seconds in the pros and 30 in college. This was originally implemented to speed up the flow of the game. If your team fails to attempt a shot in the allotted time, the ball is rewarded to the opposing team.


Nearly all levels of basketball consist of a three-point arc, which awards three points (as opposed to the normal two) for a made shot. The line ranges from 19 feet, 9 inches from the basket at the high school level to 21-9 in college and up to 23 feet in the pros.

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