The UK Rules
'Follow the Regulations'
Timekeeper Responsibilities

Basketball Timekeeper Duties

What is the definition of a timekeeper in basketball? The timer in basketball has several important duties. There is one key responsibility of any official appointed with timekeeping. That is keeping time during the game.

TIMEKEEPER IN BASKETBALL: The timer will regulate the playing time and watch the duration of the game.

There must be at least 5 officials officiating in a basketball game. The timekeeper is one of those five officials.

Basketball timekeepers are responsible for tracking the game time. But, their key function is tracking basketball time clock rules.

The timekeeper gets charged with the duties of timekeeping according to the rules of basketball. They should be familiar with all the rules and timing obligations in the game.

This page will help you master the rules and regulations of timekeeping. It is important that stop clock timers to do not cause confusion. They should keep an accurate record of the playing time and stoppages. That includes time-outs, quarter breaks, the half time interval, and any overtime required.

The official basketball timekeeper has extra duties as well. They must inform the official of any timing mistakes during the game. The timer in basketball must also notify the officials when time has run out. That is crucial information to determine whether a late goal should count.

Basketball Officials Timekeeper Responsibilities

1. Basketball Time for Quarters

NBA games consist of 4 separate twelve minute quarters. FIBA rules play 10 minutes in each quarter. The timer should set the clock at the beginning of each quarter with correct amount of playing time. You can confirm the quarter time with the referee if you are unsure.

2. Keeping Team Score

A vital role of the timekeeper in basketball is keeping score on the clock for each team throughout the game. The referee indicates which the home team is and which is the away team (visitor) before the game starts.

It is important that each team bench gets positioned each side of the clock and all players sit on their own bench. So, the home team on the side of the court that matches the home team sign on the clock.

3. Basketball Quarter Indicator

It is a rule and one of the basketball timekeeper duties to indicate each appropriate quarter in the game.

4. Alternate Possession Rule

Whenever possible you should show the direction of the next alternate possession. That means the arrow corresponds to the same direction that the team is playing.

5. Team Fouls and Bonus Shooting

Keep track of the team fouls where possible. The timekeeper can show if the team is in the bonus (shooting 1-and-1) on the clock.

6. Basketball Halftime Length

The official timekeeper should set the clock for three minutes at half-time and then let it run. In some games the match referee may shorten the half-time length.

7. Running the Clock at a Basketball Game


The timer must start and stop the clock when indicated by the referee. You should stop the clock any time you hear the referee whistle.

Do not stop the clock at any other time.

For example: the clock does not stop for a made basket.

The referee will drop his hand to signal the restarting of the clock. This occurs when the ball is in-bounded or when a free throw gets taken and missed but touches a player in bounds.

Start the Clock When the Ball Gets:

  1. Legally tapped on all jumps balls.
  2. Touched in bounds, if resumption of play is by a throw-in after clock has been stopped.
  3. Legally touched after a missed free throw and the basketball ball is to remain alive.

Stop the Clock When:

  1. Time expires at the end of the period.
  2. An official signals a foul.
  3. An official signals a jump ball.
  4. A violation occurs.
  5. An official orders a time-out.

8. Having Problems with the Clock

The timekeeper in basketball needs to get the immediate attention of the match referee any time there is a problem with the clock.

Note: You can also ask the referee to assist you if you have any questions on basketball timekeeping.

9. Work Closely with the Scorer in Basketball

The basketball timekeeper and scorer must work closely together. You should check often to confirm the score on the clock is the same as the one written in the scorer's book. You must get the referee's attention by blowing the horn if there is a problem with the scoring.

Note: One of the most basic rules in basketball is 'if there is a doubt then the score book is right'.

10. Work in tandem with the Match Referee

The timer is the official timekeeper for the game. That means you work close with the referee and not the players or their or coaches.

Be sure to take your directions only from the competition referee. Never add time back to the clock unless you get full directions to do so by the official referee.

11. Basketball Timekeeper Priority of Responsibilities

The most important of all basketball timekeeper responsibilities is ensuring the correct time displays on the clock. Also make sure the clock starts and stops at the appropriate time.

Keeping the score of the game comes second in priority of tasks for the timekeeper in basketball. Even so, the score should be an exact match the score in the book.

Basketball Timekeeper Responsibilities