Scoring In Basketball

Everything You Need To Know About Scoring In Basketball

This post has affiliate links. At no cost to you, we earn a commision for puchases made through links in this post. Read more

Basketball is played between 2 teams of 5 players each on a rectangular court. Each team tries to score by shooting the ball through the opponent team’s goal (an elevated hoop and net called a basket). 

In the last 30+ years, an urban offshoot of the game developed, now known as 3×3 basketball. Its popularity grew until it was recognized as an official sport, with its own rules. 

For those of you who are new to this sport, we’ve put together this ultimate guide to scoring in basketball. It is inclusive of the rules for the more traditional form of the sport, as well as for 3×3 basketball. 

Let’s take a look. 

Scoring & The Rules Of Basketball

Let’s take a look at the rules of the game and how scoring works, for both regular and 3×3 basketball. 

Regular Basketball

James Naismith, a YMCA physical education instructor in Massachusetts, invented the game of basketball in December of 1891. It is the only major sport entirely of U.S. origin.

Scoring Points

In traditional basketball, these are the three ways that you can score points:

  • For a successful shot from outside of the three-point line, 3 points are awarded.
  • For a successful shot from inside of the three-point line, 2 points are awarded.
  • A team that’s awarded a technical foul will receive between 1 and 3 free shots. For each successful shot, 1 point is awarded. 

The Rules Of The Game

The game aims to shoot the ball through the opposing team’s basket, located 10 ft above the ground. 

A ball can travel by dribbling or passing it. Once a player puts two hands on the ball, they may not dribble with the ball. They must pass it to another player, or shoot (this rule does not apply to catching the ball). 

An attacking team has 24 seconds from the time of gaining possession to shoot. After the shot is taken, the clock restarts to 24 seconds. 

When a team scores a basket, the ball is returned to the opposition, and the game starts again. If a team wins possession back in their half, they have 10 seconds to get it into their opponent’s end. 

If not, a foul will be called. All fouls are accumulated and when a certain number is reached, the umpire awards a free throw. 

The number of free throws depends on where the foul was committed. 

3×3 Basketball

3×3 basketball originated as street basketball in the urban areas of the USA in the late 1980s. It’s a condensed form of traditional full-court basketball.

It became so popular that it was turned into a professional sport, with official rules sanctioned by the international basketball federation (FIBA).  

In 2010, it made its global competitive debut at the Youth Olympic Games in Singapore. And a decade later, it was introduced at the Tokyo 2020 Summer Games. 

Scoring in basketball

Scoring Points

In 3×3 basketball, there are three ways that you can score points:

  • For a successful shot from anywhere outside the arc line or from the two-point zone – 2 points are awarded 
  • For a successful shot from inside the arc or the one-point zone, 1 point is awarded 
  • A player that’s awarded a free shot due to an infraction by the opposition, will receive 1 or 2 free shots. (For each successful shot, 1 point is awarded). 

Rules Of The Game

The court is divided into 2 parts by a semi-circular arc. The area inside that arc is the one-point zone and the area outside it is the two-point zone. 

There’s a rectangle under the hoop called the key. Its outer edge parallel to the baseline is called the free-throw line. 

The ball can be moved around the court by passing or dribbling. Once a player takes control of the ball inside the arc, they must dribble it out or pass it to a teammate outside the arc before taking a shot.

Possession of the ball switches between teams after every basket, whether it was a successful goal or not. The defensive team can win possession with a steal, block, or defensive rebound. 

Possession can be turned over in the case of a foul.

A FIBA-sanctioned game of 3×3 basketball lasts 10 minutes The first team to score 21 points wins the match. If neither team reaches that, the team with the most points by the end of 10 minutes wins. 

Basketball game


If the score is tied, the game goes into overtime. And the team that started the game as the defensive side gets first possession of the ball. The first team to score two points first in overtime wins. 

But if the teams were tied at 20 points each, any team scoring one more point in overtime will reach 21 points and win. 

The maximum number of points a team can score in a 3×3 basketball match is 21.

Traditional vs 3×3 Basketball

Regular Basketball 3X3 Basketball 
Court Full court, 28 x 15 m. Half-court, 11 x 15 m.
Hoops 21
Ball Size 7 basketball of 74.93 cm in diameter. Same weight, but a smaller ball of 72.39 cm in diameter.  
No. of players 5 per team3 per team
Substitutions Player substitutions can be made at any time during the game. There are no restrictions on the number of substitutions.Only one substitute is allowed on the bench. But they can enter the game at any time during a dead ball situation, by tagging an outgoing player.
Shot clock Offensive teams get 24 seconds to make their shot after getting possession of the ball. Offensive teams get 12 seconds to make their shot after getting possession of the ball. 


At Docksquad Sports, we understand how much you love basketball. That’s why we are here to help, with our informative reviews and guides to the sport. 

No matter if you’re a seasoned player, or a newcomer to basketball, rely on us to help you up your game.