The UK Rules
'Follow the Regulations'

Basketball Substitution Rules

Basketball guidelines for substituting players help to eliminate confusion in the game. That is because there are only a few limitations, even during stoppages and half time.

BASKETBALL SUBSTITUTION ROTATION RULES: The game allows an unlimited number of substitutions but there are clear procedures that substitutes must follow.

This section outlines the fundamentals for basketball rotational replacements which are governed by the referee and officials.

Understanding how your coach strategically replaces or exchanges players during the match is one of the basic principles of the game.

Learning basketball's proper switching rules is important to avoid receiving warnings, technical fouls, and penalties.

Entering the Court

Before a substitute player enters the court to replace another teammate, he must wait at the scorer's table until beckoned by the official game scorer that he is permitted to check on to the floor and into the game.

The scoreboard operator is responsible for notifying the officials that a player wishes to make a substitution by blowing the horn on the clock.

As a rule, the official game scorer wears a striped referee shirt and sits at the scorer's table situated near to the half court. Waiting replacements should communicate clearly with the scorers and provide them with their jersey uniform number to allow for adjustments in the score book. One role of the timekeeper in basketball is buzzing in the substituted player at the time of the next dead ball.

Strategic Timeouts

Timeouts and strategic half time substitutions are used by basketball coaches to strengthen matchups against the other team, to rest tired players, and to replace players who are in breach of rule infringements.

Legal Substitutions

According to the official basketball rules and regulations, substitutes may enter the game only when the ball is dead and the clock is intentionally stopped. The exception is during the last minute of play in college basketball and when the clock stops after a made basket in the National Basketball Association (NBA).

A technical foul occurs if players swap and enter the game at any other time.

For this infraction, high school rules penalize the team by awarding two free throws and possession of the ball to the opposition.

The opposing team receives two free throws and the ball is put back in play (to the team who had it last) in the college version. The National Basketball Association regulations use similar penalties as the college rules, but awards only one free throw to the opposing team.

When You Can't be Substituted

Basketball substitution rules have restrictions during a free throw or jump ball situation and for certain injury incidents.

According to the rules, players cannot be substituted for a free throw shooter or jumper (participating in a jump ball) unless that player is injured and unable to perform the procedure. The switch must not take place until the next time the ball is dead and the clock is stopped, following the free throw or jump ball.

The team coach is allowed to choose the substitute who will replace an injured player in high school rules. Conversely, in college and the NBA regulations, the opposing coach can legally decide who will swap for an injured player and he may choose from any member of the opposing team on the bench.

Basketball Player Substitution Regulations; UK Rules Updated 2017