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Three on Three Basketball Rules & Regulations

By Jessica Cook

To play 3-on-3 basketball for fun or to organize a tournament, establish the rules before play begins. Rules and regulations will keep the game fair and ensure that everyone enjoys the game without excessive conflicts.

Game Play Duration

3-on-3 games generally play to a set score, though the individual players (or tournament organizers) can determine what that score will be. Traditionally, play continues until one team earns 15, 20, or 21 points, with a margin of two points required for victory. In tournaments, it may be necessary to play to a time rather than a score to facilitate movement between games. In this case, the team with the highest score at the end of the time would be the winner.

Ball Possession

A coin toss will determine which team gets possession of the ball to start the game. After every scored basket the ball will change possession. At every change of possession, a player from the offensive team must carry the ball beyond the 2-point line (a predetermined point) before continuing play.

Fouls and Timeouts

A referee will determine fouls. If no referee is present, team players should try to agree on the foul amicably. The fouled team can have one free throw. The ball changes possession afterward. The number of timeouts allotted must be determined before the game begins. In a traditional game, each team will be allowed one or two 30- to 45-second timeouts. Teams may use their timeouts as they wish. No extra timeouts are allowed.

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