Basketball Alternating Possession

Basketball Alternating Possession

Alternating possession in basketball is an alternative to jump balls for restarting play after a held ball or offsetting penalties. Instead of competing for the ball each time, teams take turns possessing the ball in these situations. Keep reading for more information on alternating possession in basketball.

What Is Alternating Possession in Basketball?

An alternating-possession in basketball is a method of putting the ball into play via an inbounds pass rather than a jump ball. It is determined by utilizing a possession arrow and is usually only used in non-professional basketball leagues.

History of Alternating Possession

The rule for alternating possession was not created until 1981, and previous tie-ups up until that point would always be settled by a physical jump ball. The rule was first introduced in college basketball, but now almost every level below college uses the system. The main reasons for the rule’s implementation were to speed up gameplay and not to reward taller players who could easily win every jump ball situation they got into. Alternating the possession is a more fair way to resolve essentially tied situations in a game.

How Possession Is Determined

The first team that gets the benefit of the arrow is whichever team loses the jump ball. This means that the next alternating possession (jump ball) situation will automatically give them possession. Afterward, the two teams will continue switching back and forth in each alternating possession situation. The team that has the possession arrow at the end of a quarter or half will start with the ball in the next period.

The other situation in which the possession arrow is utilized is in regard to unclear out-of-bounds plays. If a review is inconclusive, or the basketball game does not have a review system and the referees cannot decide on a call, then the possession will go to whoever has the arrow rather than forcing the refs to make a call they are not sure of.


What does alternating possession mean in basketball?

Alternating possession means that teams take turns gaining possession in situations where a jump ball would be called. Whichever team loses the jump ball to start the game will take possession at the first situation where a jump ball is called. The possession will then be granted to the other team when the next jump ball occurs. Alternating possession is an alternative to using actual jump balls to determine possession.