Basketball Out of Bounds

Basketball Boundary Lines

The sidelines and baselines make up the boundary lines on a basketball court. A player is out-of-bounds if he steps on or crosses the boundary lines with his feet or touches any object that is out of play.

Basketball Out Of Bounds Rules

The rules of out-of-bounds and the boundary lines in basketball can be confusing, but are similar at all three levels of play (high school basketball, college basketball, and the NBA). We've simplified the rules for beginners below with this complete list. If you're ever in doubt, read these rules.

  • You are out-of-bounds if you step on or cross the boundary lines
  • You are out-of-bounds if you touch an object out of bounds
  • You can jump in the air out-of-bounds to keep the ball inbounds as long as your feet don't touch the floor
  • The ball is out-of-bounds if it is contact with a player, object, or part of the floor that is out-of-bounds
  • The ball is out-of-bounds if it goes behind the backboard
  • You caused the ball to go out-of-bounds if you touched it last
  • You caused the ball to go out-of-bounds even if a player on the other team pushed any part of your body into it
  • It is only a violation if a player steps out of bounds and then is the first player to touch it after coming back inbounds.
  • If a player has the ball and steps out of bounds, it's a turnover and the other team gets the ball.
  • If a player steps out of bounds without the ball, he can step back inbounds at any point. However, he cannot touch the ball or impact the game until he has legally returned inbounds by having both feet within the boundary lines. If a player interferes with the ball while out-of-bounds, the other team gets possession.

General Rules

While the ball is in play, possession can change fluidly, meaning that a team can steal the ball and it's theirs. However, if the ball happens to go out of bounds by any means, then the team that touched the ball last surrenders possession to the other team.

Basketball Throw-ins

Throw-ins, also known as inbound passes, are used to put the ball into play after the ball goes out of bounds. The referee will award the ball to the team that gets possession at the nearest sideline spot. On a throw-in, the thrower stands out of bounds and passes the ball to a teammate who is inbounds. They must keep both feet planted until the ball is released from their hands. A defender usually tries to block inbounds passes. Teams will generally assign someone very tall to guard inbounds passes as it makes it difficult to pass the player with the ball.

Basketball Jump Balls

Whenever the referees cannot figure out which team caused the ball to go out-of-bounds, a jump ball will be used to put the ball into play. This is only when video review proves inconclusive and jump balls are usually a last resort. Teams will let their tallest player take the jump ball. For a jump ball, a referee throws the ball in the air and two players jump and try to deflect it towards their teammates. Jump balls are considered a fair way to decide which team get possession. Jump balls also occur at the beginning of games.


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