Basketball Game Structure

How long does a basketball game last? What is halftime and overtime? Get ready to learn about the structure of a basketball game.


It is important for you to understand the basic structure of a basketball game.

In this tutorial, we will learn about the structure of a basketball game and what you can expect watching or playing one from beginning to end.

National Anthem

Every basketball game begins with a singing of the national anthem. It's undeniable the impact sports culture has on the identity of a nation.


Basketball games are made up of periods and halves.

The periods of play are called:

REMEMBER: In pro (NBA) basketball, there are four (4) periods, but in college (NCAA) basketball, there are only two (2) periods.

The halves are called:

Together, these periods or halves of game time are called regulation.

PRO TIP: In pro (NBA) basketball, periods are commonly referred to as quarters.

Basketball Regulation

The amount of time in each period in regulation differs at all levels of play (youth, college, pro). We will learn more about how much time is in each period at the various levels of play when we discuss the game clock coming up next.

Key Takeaways

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