Basketball Clocks And Time

There are two clocks in basketball you should know:

  1. Game clock
  2. Shot clock

The game clock and play clock are used to keep track of all time in a game.

Basketball Clocks

Game Clock

How long does a basketball game last? What clock keeps track of this? The game clock keeps track of time in each period. The periods are organized differently in the NBA and in the NCAA.

In the NBA, the game clock lasts 12 minutes. There are 4 quarters which are each 12 minutes long.

In NCAA basketball, the game clock lasts 20 minutes. There are 2 halves which are each 20 minutes long.

These differences have an impact on the flow of the game. College basketball games go quicker as they are played in two halves, whereas NBA games are a bit more choppy and longer.

Basketball Game Clock

Shot Clock

There is a limit to how long a team can hold the ball. The shot clock keeps track of each possession. The shot clock resets when a basket is made, or any time the ball touches the hoop. In the NBA, the shot clock lasts 24 seconds. In NCAA basketball, the shot clock lasts 30 seconds.

Shot Clock Violation

If a team doesn't hit the rim by the time the shot clock runs out, they commit a shot clock violation. As a result, the play will be stopped and the ball will be given to the opposing team to inbound. Similar to the game clock, a successful shot will count as long as the ball leaves the hands of the shooter before the clock reaches zero.

Basketball Shot Clock Violation


Is it possible to stop the game clock or shot clock? With a timeout, teams can stop the clock from ticking, but only temporarily. Players can only call a timeout when they have the ball, or there is a dead ball. If a player calls for a timeout when their team is out of timeouts, there will be a technical foul called.

Basketball Timeout

Clock Rules Terms

Here are some glossary terms related to the rules of the clocks in basketball.