Basketball Overtime Rules Explained [3 in 1]  for NBA, NCAA & FIBA 

Morgan Wolf

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Basketball Overtime Rules

Done but not over yet

Unlike baseball, overtime in basketball is often a common phenomenon to determine the winner of the match. Regular basketball fans like us often witness basketball overtime for games with a tie.  

Most leagues like NBA, NCAA, or FIBA have similar basketball overtime rules in terms of regulation and concept. Still, there remains a slight difference in time or other factors.

If you miss a single key factor, it can lead to utter confusion; which can result in overall viewing problems; and simply waste of your time. 

Thus, every person interested in basketball should learn more about Basketball Overtime Rules. And our article today is for them.  

Definition of Terms 

Take a glance at common terms we may need throughout the article. 

Jump Ball: Every basketball match starts with a jump ball – the method to put the basketball in play. It is initiated by the referee when he tosses the ball up; between the two teams; from the center circle. 

Center Circle: Right in the middle of the court on the midcourt line, the center circle is located. It is usually of a radius of 1.80 meters and is used to start the basketball game after a period or simply to initiate the game. 

Held Ball: In basketball, no single player is allowed to keep possession of the ball for a long time. A held ball occurs when two opposing players simultaneously possess the ball. 

Timeout: A brief pause in the game clock of the regulation period of basketball. It is usually called by the coach, officials, and in some cases by the player also.  

Game Clock: It is the clock you will notice on the scoreboard during a match. The game clock is the official clock of the basketball and is paused during a foul, timeout, or player’s injury. 

Shot Clock: A short limit of time within which a team must attempt to field a goal. It varies for different leagues; usually remains between 24 to 35 seconds. 

Icing A Player: A defensive strategy during which a team intentionally prevents an opposing player from receiving the ball or playing on the field; usually by calling a timeout. However, icing is not allowed when both teams are of equal strength or on the power play. 

Key Overtime Rules

The concept of basketball over time can be universal. However, specific rules and other regulations can vary from league to league with different stages of play.

Before we jump into the part about how different leagues apply basketball overtime rules. Here are some common key overtime rules that every league applies: 

Overtime Jump Ball 

Overtime Jump Ball 


Every league starts its overtime period with a jump ball. Jump balls take place in the center circle. It is used to ensure both teams get equal possession of the ball.

It involves one player from both teams. Both of them jump into the air in an attempt to tip the ball to one of their teammates. However, they can not grab or hold the basketball. Only tipping the ball with one hand in the direction of a teammate is allowed. 

Fouls and Free Throw

Surprising as it may sound, the overtime period in basketball consists of the same foul and free throw rules as any other regulation play. Just that, when the play gets into overtime, the foul count is reset to zero. 

It applies similarly for each overtime period. Remember that, since overtime periods are much shorter than regulation periods, a penalty starts with the fourth foul in every overtime period. 

More than four fouls in the overtime period will result in disqualification of the player; also affecting the free throw opportunities. 

In regular basketball plays, at most five fouls are applicable. 

Possession Arrow 

It is actually an arrow pointer in basketball that determines the possession of the ball during a jump ball or held ball situation; it applies similarly for a regulation play, overtime period, or alteration possession situations. 

Before an overtime period begins, the possession arrow is set to a neutral position. When a team gains possession of the ball with a jump ball, the arrow is set toward the basket of the team who didn’t earn possession of the ball. 


We already know with timeouts, game officials can shut down the game clock or the shot clock for some time in basketball.   

During the overtime period, a timeout can occur for different reasons. Generally, officials call for a timeout while having players substitute, icing a player, or bringing any change in the game design. 

Basketball teams usually (except NCAA) don’t get additional timeouts in the overtime period. Rather they can retain the unused timeouts from the regulation periods. The number of additional timeouts can vary from league to league.

For example, both official teams have two timeouts in the NBA overtime period; whereas, college teams get only one timeout.  

Buzzer Beaters 

A game-changing moment in basketball is when a team successfully delivers a shot right before the game clock expires. It is, in fact, considered the most dramatic moment in a basketball match.

A buzzer-beater that ends with a tie will send the regulation period to overtime. Meanwhile, one team put ahead of the other will instantly result in a winning game. 

And yes! It is a buzzer beater because the signal comes from the sound of a buzzer or horn.  

Basketball Overtime Rules for Different Leagues

Basketball Overtime Rules for Different Leagues


Now, it’s time to get to the main course. Since the idea of basketball overtime is more or less the same for different leagues, specific parts may vary for different organizations.
In this part, we will highlight the differences between NBA, NCAA, and FBA. So the next time, you enjoy a match you can get it fully to your mind. 

NBA Overtime Rules 

Overtime Duration: 5 Min

Timeouts: 2

NBA is the most influential basketball league worldwide. In fact, other major and most minor leagues consider NLB as the pillar of basketball rules. Rules set by them work as a base for others. 

In NBA basketball tournaments, overtime happens only during a tie; when two teams finish up the game with an equal score. The standard overtime period starts with a five-minute on average. 

This standard overtime is treated like any other quarter of the regulation period. Two points or fouls all are the same. 

Based on NBA Rule No 5, Section IV, 

If the score is tied at the end of the fourth period, play shall resume in 2:30 without change of baskets for any of the overtime periods required.” 

Thus, both teams will have 2.30 minutes to prep for the overtime period of 5 minutes. 

Additionally, Rule 5 Section VI (b) clears it out that, 

In overtime periods, each team shall be allowed two (2) team timeouts.” 

With only an allowance of two timeouts, the overtime period will be complete. However, a player will not receive a timeout when his both hands are in the air and part of his body has crossed the vertical plane of the boundary line (Rule 5; Section VII (e)). 

This rule equally applies to the midcourt. However, except for the last two minutes of the overtime period.  

NCAA Overtime Period

Overtime Duration: 5 Minutes


For NCAA, the overtime rules for the collegiate ranks and the professional ranks are pretty much the same. 

Back in 1981, the University of Cincinnati and Bradley had the longest match in college basketball history. It ended up with 7 overtimes where the regulation game was 75 minutes long. At last, the game lasted 75-73 with Cincy ruling over Bradley.  

As mentioned earlier, NBA has set up most of the base basketball rules. Both NBA and NCAA offer 5 minutes of overtime if the regular game ends with a tie. Unless the first OT period still ends in a tie, there will be another five-minute overtime period. 

This shall go on to third and fourth overtime and so on until one team earns more points than the other and a winner is declared. 

The only difference between the NCAA and NBA is in the timeout. The college basketball league gets one timeout with 75 seconds; whereas for NBA the number of available timeouts is two.  

Some overtimes remain unused at the end of the regulation period. NCAA can also utilize the remaining timeouts during overtime. Besides, they will pursue shooting on the basket as they were shooting in the second half. 

In case, the opposite happens and the match ends up with no remaining timeouts, players have to be a bit strategic while using the one overtime timeout under tight pressure. 

However, it is important to mention, NCAA levels under collegiate can use half the length of a regular quarter rather than a five-minute overtime period. Every other rules are as the same as the NBA.

For example, high school varsity leagues have 8 minutes of quarters, and their overtime period shall last for four minutes. 

FIBA Overtime Period  

Overtime Duration: 5 Minutes

Timeouts: 1

You can follow our previous article to learn the difference between NBA, NCAA, and FIBA. 

International Basketball Federation (FIBA) is different from NBA in terms of panels and other features. The biggest difference lies in the regulation period, 40 minutes for FIBA while it is 48 minutes for NBA.

Despite the differences, in terms of basketball overtime rules, FIBA follows NBA. Like NBA, FIBA also has a five-minute overtime including two timeouts. Each team can avail of only one timeout per overtime. 

Unlike NBA, in FIBA timeouts can only be called by the head coach; not any player. In NBA, each team has two timeouts. Besides coaches, players in possession of the ball can also call for a timeout. 

Mark that, when there is more than one overtime, FIBA basketball doesn’t allow additional timeouts.  

So, here it ends. Basketball Overtime Rules for NBA, NCAA, and FIBA. But to keep things in mind, here is a wrap-up table for you: 

Available OvertimeUntil One Team WinsUntil One Team WinsUntil One Team Wins
Overtime Duration5 Minutes5 Minutes5 Minutes
Timeouts in Overtime121
Timeout Period60 SecondsFull 30 Seconds timeout and unused second half 30 Seconds timeouts
Timeouts Called ByCoachPlayer in-gameHead coach and player in the game. 
Jump BallYesYesTeams change possession after opening tip-off
Shot Clock24 Seconds24 Seconds35 Seconds

This is all you need to know about basketball overtime rules for different leagues. Since we are almost at the end of our article, a sum up of basketball overtime rules is coming up ahead. 

Basketball Overtime Rules, in Summary,

  • Each league has 5 minutes of overtime; the same for NBA, NCAA, and FIBA. 
  • Timeouts may vary for different leagues in terms of duration and authority. However, every overtime meets the allocated timeouts. 
  • Overtime periods will keep coming unless one team scores higher than another. 
  • Except for NCAA, timeouts for regulation periods don’t get into overtime. 
  • Fouls and bonuses will carry into the overtime. 
  • Most leagues follow NBA Overtime Rules; except for a few variations in in-depth rules. 
  • Plays can have overtime periods as many as they need to decide a winner. 
  • The possession Arrow is set to a neutral point before the overtime begins. 

Final Words

Basketball is a sport of thrill and fun. You can’t deny the high adrenaline rush inside your vein once you are in the match. 

Overtimes are just another strategy to hold the breath of basketball fans and take the game ahead to determine the winner. However, even though it introduces an added level of fun to the match, it is not without critics. 

Many believe extended overtime can be tiring; sometimes exhausting for players after a full period of the regulation game. Plus, it also prolongs the match time. Repetitive overtime periods can often bore the audience. 

But that’s not the case always! In most cases, overtime introduces a bit more spice to the game. Let us know what you think about how basketball overtime rules help form the play and control the overall fanbase.
Also, share this article with your friends who are craving daily basketball tips. 

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Morgan Wolf

Journalist with experience covering the intersection of sports with business. Demonstrated expertise in digital, video and social media content covering major sports including soccer, NBA, NFL, MLB, tennis and Olympic sports. But basketball is his passion. Specialties: expert for sports related content management LinkedIn