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Basketball Live Vs. Dead Ball

What is a dead ball in basketball? When is the ball live? What are the rules of live balls and dead balls? Get ready to learn about live and dead ball situations in a basketball game.

Basketball Live vs. Dead Ball

At all times in a basketball game the ball is either live or dead. The referee's control the state of the ball by blowing their whistle during play.

Basketball Live Or Dead Ball

Basketball Live Ball Rules

When the ball is live, the game clock and shot clock are ticking. You'll always know when the ball is live since players will moving on the floor. The ball becomes live when the referee gives a team possession of the ball to put it into play.

There are three ways to put the ball into play that will make it live in basketball:

  1. Jump ball
  2. Throw-in
  3. Free throw

Basketball Jump Ball

On a jump ball, one player from each team, stand in the center circle as the referee tosses the ball into the air. The ball becomes live once the referee releases the ball.

Basketball Jump Ball

You can learn more about jump balls in Basketball Jump Balls.

Basketball Throw-In

On a throw-in, the referee will give the ball to a player on the team with possession. This player stands out of bounds on the sidelines or baselines and passes it to a teammate on the floor. The ball becomes live once the players gets the ball from the referee.

Basketball Throw-In

You can learn more about throw-ins in Basketball Throw Ins.

Basketball Free Throw

On a free throw, the referee gives the foul shooter the ball to shoot. Once the shooter gets the ball, the ball becomes live.

Basketball Free Throw

You can learn more about free throws in Basketball Free Throws.

Basketball Alternating Possession

In some basketball games, alternating possession determines which team gets the ball and how it's put into play. Utilizing an alternate-possession arrow, one team starts with the ball and the arrow changes once the ball is thrown inbounds.

Basketball Dead Ball

When the ball is dead, the game clock and shot clock temporarily stop. You'll be able to tell when it's a dead ball because the action on the court will stop.

REMEMBER: Once the ball is put back into play with a jump ball, throw-in, or free throw, the ball becomes live again.

Basketball Dead Ball Rules

There are rules in basketball that determine when the referee will blow his whistle and call a dead ball. Here is a list of reasons why a dead ball will be called during a game:

  • a field goal or free throw is made
  • the official blows his whistle
  • the ball goes out of bounds
  • a foul is called
  • a violation is called
  • a timeout is called
  • a held ball situation
  • when a player is injured
  • the game clock expires at the end of each half
  • when a mistake is made by the shot clock or game clock operator

Basketball Substitutions

A substitution is when a player on the floor is replaced by another player on the bench. Teams can make unlimited substitutions during a game, but only when the ball is dead.

PRO TIP: Substitutions can not be made in the final 60 seconds of a half in college basketball.

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