1st/2nd Grade Basketball Rules

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Games are played according to “High School Basketball Rules” published by the National Federation of State High School Associations with modifications and clarifications adopted by Kidsports and explained in this document.

Kidsports 1st-2nd grade basketball games are played on a modified full court 3v3 set up. With two simultaneous games being played sideways in the gym.

See the description here for the 2 simultaneous games 3v3 court setup.

  • Baskets: 8’6″
  • Balls: Junior Size

Free throw lane: Rebounder positions are moved out one lane space to compensate for portable standards where needed.


  • In addition to the 3 v 3 structure and games, KS has also adopted from USA Basketball Youth Guidelines a “no steal off of the dribble,” rule for both 1st and 2nd grade teams. (More Information)
  • With the adoption of the rule, “no stealing off of the dribble,” two situations may arise for which coaches will need to provide teaching/coaching interventions:
    • If a player dribbles continuously for more than a 5 – 6 second count without advancing/retreating to space, then coaches may call a “5” second count/”violation.” Play will be stopped, opposing team will take the ball out of bounds at the level of the call, and play will resume.
    • If a player picks up the dribble and does not pass the ball within a 5 – 6 second count, then coaches may call a “5” second count/violation. Play will be stopped, opposing team will inbound the ball at the level of the call, and play will resume.
  • “No stealing off of the dribble,” is based on best practices promoted by USA Youth Basketball Development and is best described by their recommendation of what to teach, rather than what not to teach:
  • “Teaching defense on the ball at this level is neither applicable nor recommended. Focus should be on the footwork and body control. Defensive player guarding the ball should not reach for the ball and maintain an arm’s length distance.”
  • Until recently, the sport of basketball in the United States has lacked guidelines around health and wellness and consistent game play standards for coaches and kids. To help foster player health, age- and stage-appropriate skill development, and a positive and enjoyable on-court experience for young people, USA Basketball and the NBA have developed a set of rules and standards to enhance the playing experience for young athletes.
  • These guidelines aim to combat the overemphasis on early competitive success and the lack of a clear development pathway through the sport – two issues that exist across youth sports, including basketball


  • The game is divided into eight periods. Each period is 5 minutes, running clock. The clock is stopped for timeouts.
  • Each team is allowed 3 timeouts.
  • Each team must furnish a lineup card prior to game time. Lineup cards should be filled out completely and reflect each period each player is projected to play.
  • Each player who starts a period shall play that full period. Each eligible player who did not play the previous period shall play the next period.
  • Exceptions to substitution rules: When illness, injury, or disqualification due to fouls prevents a player from fulfilling substitution requirements, he/she may be substituted for. If an ill or injured player can return to the game, the player must re-enter at the start of a new period and play the required time as if not having played in the partial period. A substitute for such a player must finish the period for the replaced player and comply with the substitution rule during other periods.
  • Penalty for Illegal Substitution: Correct the substitution.


  • No score is kept. Team scorebooks are for coaching purposes only.
  • No foul shots will be taken.
  • Coaches are allowed to stand to communicate with players.
  • Undershirts must be similar in color to the uniform shirt or white.
  • Players must wear unaltered uniforms as issued.
  • Absolutely no jewelry or hard hair accessories are allowed.


  • No back-court guarding is allowed on any pass being inbounded from back-court into the back-court area or any time a team has gained definite possession in back-court. Once definite possession is gained, defensive players may not hinder the offensive team in any way, even by accident. Even if possession is lost and the ball becomes loose, the defensive team cannot hinder the ball until it crosses mid-court.
  • A pass from back-court to front-court cannot be intercepted until the ball crosses the mid-court line.
  • When the ball is being dribbled from back-court into front-court, the dribbler may not be guarded within 6 feet of the mid-court line until both feet of the player in possession and the ball are in front-court.
  • Occasional inadvertent violations of the back-court guarding rule shall be whistled and warned, allowing the possessing team to inbound from back-court.


  • Stealing the ball from the dribbler is not allowed.


  • Once the ball is advanced into front-court, only one-on-one defensive positions may be established until a team establishes possession (moves the ball to) below the top of the key (circle) extended. Once this is established, if the player guarding the ball is beat and his/her opponent is going to the basket unguarded, one help defender – closest to the ball/or weak side defender – can look to help out and stop the ball. The help side defender should not leave their assigned offensive player to double team the ball; only to help a teammate that has been beaten in a one on one situation. The goal is to try and teach the concept of help –side defense not double teaming or bunch ball as the offense looks to attack the basket.
  • Basic defensive moves such as switching, sliding through, and helping off on the weak side are permissible; double teaming is not.
  • Defensive players should be in help side/off ball defense positioning when offensive players are not in the scoring area.
  • When violations of double teaming occur, coaches should blow the whistle, stop the action, explain the rule, and then continue play from the point of action, or have the offensive team take the ball out of bounds to resume play.


  • Coaches will officiate 1st & 2nd grade games. An assistant coach or head coach should officiate the game. Please follow these objectives for an early, positive, youth sport basketball experience for all:
  • Use a whistle and blow the whistle on all violations. This helps the children to stop in a way that is clear, consistent, timely, and safe.
  • Talk with each other prior to the game to discuss rules and the administration of time outs.
  • Hold yourselves accountable to the stated rules and be responsible to the spirit of development principles and concepts of 1st and 2nd grade basketball.
  • Think long term by coaching behavior, skill, habits, technique, and simple playing concepts that will be rewarded at the next level.