Basketball Center Circle

Basketball Center Circle

The center circle in basketball is the circle located at the middle of the court, on the midcourt line, and is used to put the ball into play via jump balls. It is also known as the jump circle.

Center Circle Dimensions

The center circle is located directly in the middle of the basketball court, with half of the circle being on either side of the court. The circle has a 12 foot diameter, meaning it is 6 feet long on either side of the midcourt line.

What Happens in the Center Circle?

The main purpose of the center circle is for the jump ball at the start of the game, referred to as the tip off. Two players will stand in the middle of the circle while the remaining 8 players must remain on the outside of the circle's lines. When the referee throws the ball up, the players will attempt to tip it to one of the players on their team to gain the opening possession, and the game will officially start. This will happen again at the beginning of any overtime periods included in the game.

The center circle can also be utilized for a jump ball in a variety of other situations, including:

  • When a double free throw violation occurs, meaning two players on opposite teams both committed a violation during a free throw, possibly by stepping into the paint before the shot was taken.
  • When the ball is not in the possession of either team and a double foul occurs, meaning two players on opposite teams fouled each other at the same time.
  • When a dead ball occurs and neither team has possession of the ball. For example, if the ball becomes lodged between the rim and the backboard.
  • When neither team has possession of the ball and the play of the game is suspended for a period of time.
  • When the ball goes out of bounds and none of the referees can determine which team touched the ball last.