Half Court Basketball Game

Basketball Half Court Game

A half-court game is a type of basketball game where only one half of the court is used, with both teams attempting to score on the same basket. While many aspects of the game are similar to full-court basketball, there are a few key differences in the rules. Read on to learn more about half-court basketball games, including the rules and scoring system.

Basketball Half-Court Game

Half-court games of basketball are perfect for developing your skills when you have less than ten players. During full-court games, opposing teams are shooting in different baskets, but in half-court games opposing teams share the same basket. Unlike in a full-court game, in a half-court game, there is no jump ball. Half court games are typically played as pickup games, meaning they are non-official games. Depending on what teams are playing the game, there are several ways to decide who gets first possession. Typically, possession is decided on a coin toss, or the first player to complete a shot or another way decided by the teams.   

Court and Ball

The games are played in a half-court setting with each team shooting on the same basket. The court is typically 49 feet wide and 36 feet long. The court has the exact same markings as a traditional basketball game. During FIBA (International Basketball Association) competitions, a Size 6 ball is used.


Typically, half-court games are played with three or four players on each team. There are professional half-court leagues, but half-court games can be played as an unofficial pickup game. The two official half-court leagues are FIBA 3x3 and The Big 3. The game is played with three players on the court during the game, with one sub. Once initial possession is decided, they have a limited time to shoot the ball. Depending on the league the shot clock can be 12-14 seconds long. Depending on the league or if it’s a pickup game the length and gameplay can vary.

Clearing the Ball

Since opposing teams are shooting on the same basket, once the defensive team rebounds the ball, they must clear it. When the defending teams get possession of the ball, they must bring it outside the three point arc in order to “clear” the ball. Once they have cleared the ball, they may start trying to score.


Scoring in half-court games is not the same scoring system in traditional basketball games.  Unlike a traditional basketball game, there are no three point shots. According to FIBA 3x3 rules, one point is awarded for foul shots and shots completed inside the arc. Two points are awarded for shots made outside the arc. The Big 3 also features a four-point shot, which is a shot made from one of three designated circles outside the arc. Also, the Big 3 does not follow the same scoring values, with inside shots counting as two points and shots outside the arc counting as three.

FIBA is played for 10 minutes or until one team reaches 21 points. In the Big 3, the game does not have a time limit, the winner is the first team to make it to 50, with a halftime break when a team reaches 25 points.


A foul is anytime a player breaks a rule in the game that is defined in the rulebook for that league. After a foul is called, the other team will get a free throw(s). A few common fouls in half court games include:

  • Blocking - Illegal blocking happens when an opposing player makes personal contact that disrupts a player with or without a ball.
  • Charging - When a player is moving in an established path with the ball uses their body of the ball against the opponent.  
  • Disqualifying Foul - Unsportsmanlike behavior or unnecessary roughness can lead to a foul.  This can include foul language and can result in being removed from the game.
  • Hacking - Hacking is when a defensive player hits the person holding the ball.
  • Holding - Holding is when any player holds an opposing player with or without the ball.


A violation is similar to a foul. Instead of resulting in free throws, it results in a change of possession. Common violations in half court games are:

  • Double Dribble - Once you stop dribbling, you can either pass or shoot the ball. If you stop dribbling, then start dribbling is a violation.
  • Traveling - One of the most basic rules of basketball is you have to bounce or dribble the ball when you are moving. Once the player stops moving, one of their feet will become the pivot foot. When a player moves their pivot foot off the ground, it is traveling.  
  • Out of Bounds - When the ball touches the ground, it is considered out of bounds. The lines of the court are considered out of bounds.  When the ball touches a player that is out of bounds, it is considered out of bounds.
  • Five-Second Violation - Once possession changes, the player has five seconds to throw the ball back into play. It is a violation when a player has stopped dribbling and holds the ball too long while being guarded.
  • Kicking the Ball - During a game, you are not allowed to purposely kick the ball.  
  • Take Back Violation - If the non-shooting team rebounds the ball but does not take it to the free-throw line and makes a shot that shot does not count.
  • Team Possession Violation - If a team makes a basket, but not all members of the team have touched the ball.
  • Three Seconds in the Key - The offensive player is not allowed to stay in the key for more than three seconds.


What are the rule differences between full-court and half-court basketball?

The main rule difference between full-court and half-court basketball is that half-court basketball is only played on one side of the court with one basket. Teams will alternate between offense and defense, attempting to score on the basket. The gameplay is similar for the most part, except on changes in possession, the defensive team must “clear” the ball before attempting to score. To clear the ball, the defensive team must take the ball outside of the three point arc. As for scoring, games are usually played to 21, with shots inside the arc and free throws counting as one point, and shots outside the arc counting as two.

What is a half-court game in basketball?

A half-court game is a form of basketball where the entire game takes place on one half of the court. Instead of crossing over the half-court line, players must “clear” the ball with each change in possession by bringing it outside the three-point arc.