Basketball Jersey Rules

Basketball Jersey

Basketball jerseys are an expression of a team’s identity, featuring their logos and colors. They are also an easy way for fans, coaches, and officials to identify teams and players.

Basketball leagues have rules on what colors jerseys can be and what numbers they can have. Several other jersey regulations exist with regards to font size, number alignment, decals, sponsorships, and accessories (for example, undershirts, arm sleeves). These restrictions are also specific to each league and level of play, thus tending to vary greatly. Keep reading to learn more about the rules for jerseys and uniforms in basketball.

Home Team Colors

A basketball uniform consists of a jersey and shorts. Competing teams must have contrasting colors so fans and players can tell them apart from one another. The home team in basketball is the team that owns the court. You can always tell which team is the host team based on the logo at the center of the court, the team colors and the fans in attendance. The home team wears lighter jersey colors, typically white jerseys.

Away Team Colors

The away team is the team that is visiting an opponent’s venue. They do not own the playing surface and have the disadvantage of playing in an unfavorable environment (lack of familiarity, boisterous fans). The away team wears darker jersey colors, which can consist of a variety of colors included in the team's logo and branding.

Jersey Number Regulations

Depending on the league, there are a number of different limitations regarding permissible jersey numbers. The NBA is the only league that allows players to wear any jersey number of their choosing. Conversely, restrictions apply in college, high school, and the WNBA. The numbers that players can wear in these three leagues are outlined below.

LeagueEligible Jersey Numbers
WNBA 00, 0-55
NFHS (high school)0, 00, 1-5, 10-15, 20-25, 30-35, 40-45, 50-55
NCAA (collegiate) 0, 00, 1-5, 10-15, 20-25, 30-35, 40-45, 50-55

NBA Jersey Rules

In the NBA, jersey rules are very simple and focus on legibility and which team is hosting the game. The number of each player must be on the front of the jersey in smaller letters and must also be on the back of their jersey in addition to the player’s surname. Also, the home team must wear lighter-colored jerseys, while the away team opts for darker-colored jerseys.

WNBA Jersey Rules

WNBA jersey rules focus on legibility and which team is hosting, but they also have certain rules on which numbers can be worn by whom. Each player must have her number on the front and the back of her shirt in letters that are large enough and that are in a color that contrasts the rest of the shirt. The surname of each player should be added to her jersey, and teams may have more than one jersey with the same surname. Finally, the legal numbers a player can use are 00 or any number from 0 to 55.

NCAA Basketball Jersey Rules

College basketball jersey rules require contrasting colors between the teams, with the home team wearing lighter jerseys. This rule may be overlooked at the request of both teams. The main panels must be a single color, but up to 15% gradation is permitted. Only selected numbers may be worn, and only the number, team name or logo, and player name are permitted on the main front and back panels.

High School Basketball Jersey Rules

In high school basketball, the torso of the jersey must be a solid color, and the number must be at least 4 in high on the front and 6 in high on the back. No more than three colors may be used in the number, and it must contrast with the jersey color. Similarly to college and WNBA play, only certain jersey numbers may be worn. There must be lettering on the front identifying the school or player. There are no restrictions on designs and colors above the neckline. This is where a small manufacturer’s logo and an American flag may be placed if desired. The back may also be used to identify the player or school, but such lettering on the back is not mandatory.


What are the jersey rules in basketball?

Although specific rules vary by league, basketball teams are required to wear light-colored jerseys at home and dark-colored jerseys when playing away. Most leagues require players to tuck their jerseys into their shorts, and many have restrictions on what numbers may be worn and what information may be printed on the main panels of the front and rear of the jerseys.