Five-second rule (basketball)

Five-second rule (basketball)

In basketball, the five-second rule, or five-second violation, is a rule that helps promote continuous play. There are multiple situations where a five-second violation may occur.


In NCAA and NFHS rules, there are two situations in which a five-second violation may occur.

Five-second closely guarded violation

A "five-second closely-guarded violation" occurs when a player, while closely guarded, holds the ball for five seconds or dribbles the ball for five seconds. A closely guarded situation occurs when a player with the ball in the frontcourt is continuously guarded by an opponent within 6 feet of the player in control. The official continues the five-second count until the player in control gets his/her head and shoulders past the defender. [NFHS Rule 9 Section 10]

Five-second throw-in violation

A "five-second throw-in violation" occurs if, during a throw-in, the thrower does not release the ball before five seconds have elapsed. [NFHS Rule 9 Section 2 Article 4]


The penalty for a five-second violation is loss of ball. The opposing team will throw-in the ball from the out-of-bounds spot nearest the violation.


In FIBA there are three times when a five second violation can occur.Closely Guarded playerWhen a player holds the ball (not dribbles) and is closely guarded (within 1 meter and actively defending) the ballhandler may not hold the ball for more than 5 seconds; to do so is a violation.Free throwA free throw shooter may not take more than 5 seconds to shoot after he has received the ball from the official. This rule is rarely used and today is penalised only when a player deliberately takes unnecessary time to shoot the free throw and thereby impedes the process of the game.Throw inA player may not hold the ball for more than 5 seconds on a throw in. This rule is sometimes also used by officials when a team is taking time to start the game. The official will then put the ball on the ground and start a five second count. If the team hasn't completed the throw in within 5 seconds, the violation is called.


In the NBA, there is not a count for closely guarded situations. However, there is a third type of five-second violation, called the "five-second back-to-the-basket" violation. When an offensive player is in his front court below the free-throw line extended, he may not dribble with his back or side to the basket for more than five seconds. The count ends when the player picks up the ball, dribbles above the free-throw line extended, or a defensive player deflects the ball. Other than this "five-second-back-to-the-basket" violation, there is no five second rule in the NBA.NBA Rule 10 Section XV]


In both a throw-in and back-to-the-basket five-second violation, the penalty is loss of ball. For a five-second throw-in violation, the throw-in spot for the opposing team is at the original throw-in spot. [NBA Rule 10 Section III] For a five-second back-to-the-basket violation, the throw-in spot is at the free-throw line extended on the sideline nearest the violation.


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