Basketball Shot Clock

Shot Clock

Basketball shot clocks are a necessary piece of equipment for a competitive basketball game. The purpose of a shot clock is to set a timer for how long a team can have the ball in one-possession before shooting the ball. If this timer runs out the team with the ball is registered a shot clock violation and loses possession of the ball. The shot clock is located on top of the backboard for any competitive basketball game. In the NBA the shot clock is set to 24 seconds while in the NCAA it is 35 seconds.

The shot clock in basketball keeps track of how long the team on offense can possess the ball before they have to shoot it. The shot clock was invented so that teams would play the game at a quicker pace.

Basketball Shot Clock

NBA Shot Clock

In the NBA, the shot clock lasts 24 seconds.

Basketball NBA Shot Clock

College Basketball Shot Clock

In college basketball, the shot clock lasts 30 seconds.

Starting the Shot Clock

The shot clock begins counting down as soon as a possession begins. This occurs immediately when the ball is touched after an inbounds pass, possession change during the run of play, or jump ball.

Shot Clock Stops

The shot clock stops ticking when the ball is declared dead by referees for any reason.

The shot clock resumes once the ball is put back into play with a jump ball or a throw in.

Shot Clock Resets

Some scenarios require the shot clock to reset. In college, all shot clock resets are done to the full 30 seconds. In the NBA, the shot clock may reset either fully (to 24 seconds) or partially (to 14 seconds).

In the NBA, the shot clock fully resets to 24 seconds when:

The NBA shot clock resets to 14 seconds after the following:

Shot Clock Violation

When the shot clock reaches zero, the buzzer and red lights go off to signal a possible shot clock violation. A shot clock violation is a type of turnover that results in the other team getting the ball. A shot clock violation will be called on a team if the following does not happen when the shot clock reaches zero:

  • the ball has not hit the rim
  • a score has not been made
  • a change of possession has not been made

A shot clock violation results in a turnover. The opposing team will get to inbound the ball and start a new possession.

IMPORTANT: As long as the ball has left a player's hands and is in the air by the time the shot clock hits zero, it is not considered a shot clock violation-although the ball still needs to hit the rim.

Shot Clock History

The shot clock rule was added to basketball in 1954. Before the days of the shot clock, teams could hold onto the ball forever with no time limit, resulting in many boring, low-scoring games. Danny Biasone came up with the 24-second shot clock by dividing the number of seconds in a game (48 minutes makes 2,880 seconds) by 120 shots (Biasone found that entertaining games had about 120 shots per game). Thus, the 24 second shot clock was born.

The college shot clock was not developed until 1985, when a 45-second one was used. This was shortened to 35 seconds in 1993, and then to 30 seconds in 2015.

There is no standardized American high school shot clock, although 10 states have already implemented either 35- or 30-second shot clocks statewide.

Use of Basketball Shot Clocks

The shot clock counts down how many seconds the team is allowed possession, in the NBA this is 24 seconds while in the NCAA it is 35 seconds. When it hits zero, it will buzz, indicating the possession is over and the other team gets the ball if a shot did not go up. Shot clocks can also show the game time on top to help players see how much time is left in the game without having to locate a scoreboard around the arena.

For example, a shot clock may say you have 15 seconds left in the possession, but on top of that in a smaller font, it will show the game time, like 8:33. Players must make quick and timely decisions in order to accomplish what they must offensively without the shot clock running out. Teams can rush things or go too slow leading to lost possessions due to the shot clock

Basketball Shot Clock Operator

With every shot clock there needs to be a Shot Clock Operator, who is in charge of resetting the shot clock every time a new possession begins during a game. Shot clocks are not able to know when a new possession begins, so the shot clock is programmed to reset with the touch of a button, which the operator is in charge of hitting. The operator must be paying full attention in order to not mess up the shot clock, therefore, messing up the possible outcome.

Buy A Basketball Shot Clock

Shot clocks are advanced pieces of equipment, which is why they are typically very expensive. Purchasing a shot clock will typically cost you more than $1,000. This is not a problem in the NBA as they are a multi-million dollar operation, however, at some colleges and high schools this can be a lot of money.


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