Basketball Jump Balls

Chapter 7.2

What is a jump ball? Where does it happen? Get ready to learn about jump balls in a basketball game.


When the ball is declared 'dead' by officials, the game clock and shot clock stop ticking. The ball then needs to be brought back into play and become 'live' again. There are three (3) ways in basketball that the ball is brought back into play:

  1. Jump Balls
  2. Throw-ins
  3. Free-throws

In this tutorial, we will learn about jump balls, what they are, and the rules around them.

Jump Balls

We've already learned about the midcourt line on a basketball court.

Rookie Road Basketball Midcourt Line Image

Located on the midcourt line, is the center circle. This is circle is also known as the jump circle. This is where all jump balls are made in a basketball game.

Rookie Road Basketball Center Circle Image

Jump Ball Procedure

One (1) player from each team will stand in the center circle. Next, the referee will blow his whistle and toss the ball high into the air. The players will then jump into the air with the intent of tapping the ball in the direction of a player on his/her team.

Rookie Road Basketball Jump Ball Image

Goals Of Jump Balls

The goal of a jump ball is two-fold:

  1. To put the ball into play
  2. To give each team an equal chance of getting possession

When Do They Happen

Jump balls will happen whenever the following occurs in a basketball game:

PRO TIP: There are few more reasons that a jump ball will be used to put the ball into play like if the ball gets stuck in the hoop between the backboard and the rim.

The Center (C)

The center is a player position on a basketball team. Since the center is often the tallest player on the team, he/she will be the designated player to perform jump balls. This gives a team the highest chance of getting possession of the ball.

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