Shot clock

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20130103 Mitch McGary shot clock-game clock (1).JPG
20130103 Mitch McGary shot clock-game clock (2).JPG
20130103 Mitch McGary shot clock-game clock (3).JPG
After Mitch McGary attempts a finger roll layup late in the first half of the 2012–13 Big Ten Conference men's basketball season opener on January 3 (left), the Michigan Wolverines and Northwestern Wildcats anticipate (center) and pursue (right) the rebound. The possession demonstrates the end-of-half intricacies of the National Collegiate Athletic Association's former 35-second shot clock (red LED) when possession changes and the game clock (white LED; note the decimal point) is below 35 seconds.

A shot clock is a countdown timer used in basketball that provides a set amount of time (24–35 seconds, depending on the league) that a team may possess the ball before attempting to score a field goal. It is distinct from the game clock, which displays the time remaining in the period of play. It may be colloquially known as the 24-second clock, particularly in the NBA and other leagues where that is the duration of the shot clock. If the shot clock reaches zero before the team attempts a field goal, the team has committed a shot clock violation, which is penalized with a loss of possession.


At most professional and collegiate basketball courts the shot clock is displayed to the players and spectators in large red numerals below the game clock on a display mounted atop each backboard. In some collegiate and amateur facilities this display might be located on the floor or mounted to a wall behind the end line. The shot clock was originally introduced in the NBA in 1954 as a way to increase scoring and reduce stalling tactics that were commonly used before its inception. It has been credited with increasing fan interest in the then-fledgling league, and has since been adopted at most organized levels of basketball.

A shot clock is also used in snooker, men's lacrosse, water polo, korfball, and ten-pin bowling. It is analogous with the play clock used in American and Canadian football, and the pitch clock used in baseball.


The shot clock is a digital clock that displays a number of seconds. The shot clock is usually displayed above the backboard behind each goal, allowing offensive players to see precisely how much time they have to shoot and officials to easily determine whether buzzer beaters should be counted. The NBA specifies that a transparent shot clock and game clock be part of the backboard assembly, and FIBA, Euroleague, and many venues use this arrangement.

Three signals indicate when the time to shoot has expired:

In the final five seconds to shoot, the shot clock displays tenths of seconds. This was adopted in the 2011–12 NBA season, [1] 2014–15 Euroleague, FIBA since 2018, and the Olympics will do so in 2021.


The NBA has had a 24-second limit since 1954. FIBA introduced a 30-second shot clock in 1956 and switched to 24 seconds in 2000. The Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) had a 30-second clock originally and switched to 24 seconds in 2006. Collegiate basketball uses a 30-second shot clock (details below).


Stall tactics to limit big man George Mikan (#99) led to the shot clock's creation by the NBA. GeorgeMikan.jpg
Stall tactics to limit big man George Mikan (#99) led to the shot clock's creation by the NBA.

The NBA had problems attracting fans (and positive media coverage) before the shot clock's inception. [2] :23–31 Teams in the lead were running out the clock, passing the ball incessantly. The trailing team could do nothing but commit fouls to recover possession following the free throw. Frequent low-scoring games with many fouls bored fans. The most extreme case occurred on November 22, 1950, when the Fort Wayne Pistons defeated the Minneapolis Lakers by a record-low score of 19–18, including 3–1 in the fourth quarter. [3] The Pistons held the ball for minutes at a time without shooting (they attempted 13 shots for the game) to limit the impact of the Lakers' dominant George Mikan. It led the St. Paul Dispatch to write, "[The Pistons] gave pro basketball a great black eye." [4] :31–2 NBA President Maurice Podoloff said, "In our game, with the number of stars we have, we of necessity run up big scores." [4] :33 A few weeks after the Pistons/Lakers game, the Rochester Royals and Indianapolis Olympians played a six-overtime game with only one shot in each overtime: in each overtime period, the team that had the ball first held it for the entirety of the period before attempting a last-second shot. The NBA tried several rule changes in the early 1950s to speed up the game and reduce fouls before eventually adopting the shot clock.


In 1954 in Syracuse, New York, Syracuse Nationals (now the Philadelphia 76ers) owner Danny Biasone and general manager Leo Ferris experimented with a 24-second shot clock during a scrimmage. [5] [6] Jack Andrews, longtime basketball writer for The Syracuse Post-Standard, often recalled how Ferris would sit at Danny Biasone's Eastwood bowling alley, scribbling potential shot clock formulas onto a napkin. [7] According to Biasone, "I looked at the box scores from the games I enjoyed, games where they didn't screw around and stall. I noticed each team took about 60 shots. That meant 120 shots per game. So I took 2,880 seconds (48 minutes) and divided that by 120 shots. The result was 24 seconds per shot." [3] [8] [2] :29 Ferris was singled out by business manager Bob Sexton at the 1954 team banquet for pushing the shot clock rule. Biasone and Ferris then convinced the NBA to adopt it for the 1954–55 season, a season in which the Nationals won the NBA Championship.

Use and reaction

The Shot Clock Monument in Syracuse, New York. Syracuse Shot Clock Monument.jpg
The Shot Clock Monument in Syracuse, New York.
Close-up of Syracuse's Shot Clock Monument. Syracuse Shot Clock Monument Close-Up.jpg
Close-up of Syracuse's Shot Clock Monument.

When it was introduced by the NBA, the 24-second shot clock made players so nervous that it hardly came into play, as players were taking fewer than 20 seconds to shoot. According to Syracuse star Dolph Schayes, "We thought we had to take quick shots – a pass and a shot was it – maybe 8–10 seconds... But as the game went on, we saw the inherent genius in Danny's 24 seconds – you could work the ball around [the offensive zone] for a good shot." [2] :29

The shot clock, together with some rule changes concerning fouls, revolutionized NBA basketball. In the last pre-clock season (1953–54), teams averaged 79 points per game; in the first year with the clock (1954–55), the average was 93 points, [3] which went up to 107 points by its fourth year in use (1957–58). [2] :28 The advent of the shot clock (and the resulting increase in scoring) coincided with an increase in attendance, which increased 40% within a few years to an average of 4,800 per game. [4] :33–4

The shot clock received near-universal praise for its role in improving the style of play in the NBA. Coach and referee Charley Eckman said, "Danny Biasone saved the NBA with the 24-second rule." [9] Boston Celtic all-star Bob Cousy said, "Before the new rule, the last quarter could be deadly. The team in front would hold the ball indefinitely, and the only way you could get it was by fouling somebody. In the meantime, nobody dared take a shot and the whole game slowed up. With the clock, we have constant action. I think it saved the NBA at that time. It allowed the game to breathe and progress." [10] League president Maurice Podoloff called the adoption of the shot clock "the most important event in the NBA." [3] The league itself states, "Biasone's invention rescue[d] the league." [9]

Adoption by other leagues

Two later pro leagues that rivaled the NBA adopted a modified version of the shot clock. The American Basketball League used a 30-second shot clock for its two years in existence (1961–1963). The American Basketball Association also adopted a 30-second clock when it launched in 1967–68, switching to the NBA's 24-second length for its final season (1975–76).

From its inception in 1975, the Philippine Basketball Association adopted a 25-second shot clock. This was because the shot clocks then installed at the league's main venues, the Araneta Coliseum and Rizal Memorial Coliseum (the latter no longer used by the league), could only be set at 5-second intervals. The league later adopted a 24-second clock starting from the 1995 season. The Metropolitan Basketball Association in the Philippines used the 23-second clock from its maiden season in 1998. In Philippine college basketball, the NCAA Basketball Championship (Philippines) and the UAAP Basketball Championship adopted a 30-second clock, then switched to 24 seconds starting with the 2001–02 UAAP season 64, the first season to start after the FIBA rule change in 2001.


The shot clock begins counting down when a team establishes possession, and stops any time the game clock stops (e.g., timeouts, violations, fouls). The offensive team must attempt to score a field goal before the shot clock expires; otherwise, the team has committed a shot clock violation (also known as a 24-second violation in leagues with a 24-second shot clock) that results in a turnover to their opponents. An important distinction is that there is no violation if the ball is in flight to the basket when the shot clock expires, as long as the ball leaves the player's hand before the shot clock expires and the ball proceeds to go into the basket or touch the basket rim.

The shot clock resets to its full length at the start of each period and whenever possession changes to the opposite team such as after a basket is scored, the defense steals the ball or recovers a rebound, or the offense commits a foul or violation. The full length varies by country, level of play, and league; see the table below. The shot clock does not reset if a defender makes short contact with the ball (e.g., an attempted steal or a tipped pass) but the offense retains possession.

The shot clock also resets when the offense retains possession after a missed field goal or free throw (a missed field goal must touch the rim in order to reset the shot clock), or on certain fouls or violations that give the offense an inbounds pass in their frontcourt. However, in many of these cases where the offense does not have to travel the full length of the court, FIBA, (W)NBA, and other high-level leagues call for the shot clock to reset to a shorter length, most commonly 14 seconds (see below).

Near the end of each period, if the shot clock would ordinarily display more time than there is remaining in the period, the shot clock is switched off. During this time, a team cannot commit a shot clock violation.

The shot clock operator sits at the scorer's table. This is usually a different person from the scoreboard operator, as the task requires concentration during and after the shot attempt. In the 2016-17 NBA season, a new 'official timekeeper' deal for the NBA with Swiss watch manufacturer Tissot introduced technology to unify the keeping of the shot clock and the game clock. [11] Tissot also became official timekeeper for the WNBA in the 2017 season.

14-second clock

If the offensive team is fouled and the penalty does not include free throws but just an in-bounds pass, the shot clock is reset. There are several cases where the offense is not given a full 24 seconds. The shot clock is instead set to 14 following an offensive rebound. [12] :7-IV-d FIBA adopted this in 2014 and the NBA adopted in 2018. [13] The WNBA also observes this rule.

In several other cases where the offense inbounds the ball in its frontcourt (such as a foul by the defense not resulting in free throws), the offense is guaranteed 14 seconds. [12] :7-IV-e The shot clock is increased to 14 if it showed a shorter time.

On a held ball (whether decided by a jump ball or a possession arrow), the state of the shot clock depends on which team gets possession of the ball.

Collegiate rules

American collegiate basketball uses a 30-second shot clock, while Canadian university basketball uses a 24-second clock.

In men's collegiate basketball, there was initial resistance to the implementation of a shot clock for men's NCAA basketball, due to fears that smaller colleges would be unable to compete with powerhouses in a running game. However, after extreme results like an 11–6 Tennessee win over Temple in 1973, support for a men's shot clock began to build. [14] The NCAA introduced the 45-second shot for the 1985–86 season; [15] several conferences had experimented with it for the two seasons prior. [16] It was reduced to 35 seconds in the 1993–94 season, [17] and 30 seconds in the 2015–16 season. [18] The NAIA also reduced the shot clock to 30 seconds starting in 2015–16. [19]

Women's collegiate basketball (at the time sanctioned by the Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics for Women) used a 30-second shot clock on an experimental basis in the 1969–70 season, officially adopting it for the 1970–71 season. [20]

The NCAA specifies 20 seconds rather than 30 after stoppages where the ball is already in the frontcourt. In 2019, it added offensive rebounds to this list. [21]

Scholastic rules

The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), which sets rules for high school basketball in the U.S., does not mandate the use of a shot clock, instead leaving the choice to use a clock and its duration up to each individual state association. Proposals to adopt a national shot clock for high school basketball have been voted down by the NFHS as recently as 2011. [22]

Eight U.S. states require the use of a shot clock of 30 or 35 seconds in high school competition: California, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota, and Washington. [22] The District of Columbia also uses a 30-second shot clock for public school (DCIAA) competition, charter school competition (as of 2018-19), and for the DCSAA State Tournament, where public, private, and charter schools compete for the championship of the District of Columbia.

Shot clock length in basketball

NBA 24 seconds (but see 14-second clock above)
U Sports (Canadian universities)
NCAA, NAIA, USCAA, etc.30 seconds
United States high school basketball30/35 seconds (some states only)
FIBA 24 seconds (but see 14-second clock above)
12 seconds (3x3 half-court) [23]

Shot clock length in other sports

Lacrosse MLL 60 seconds
PLL 52 seconds
NLL 30 seconds
NCAA Men's80 seconds [24]
NCAA Women's90 seconds [24]
Ringette N/A30 seconds
Water polo FINA 30 seconds
Canoe polo ICF 60 seconds
Ten-pin bowling PBA 25 seconds (only used on TV)
Korfball IKF 25 seconds
Snooker Snooker Shoot Out 15 seconds (first five minutes)
10 seconds (last five minutes)
Carom billiards
(three-cushion billiards)
World Championship
European Championship
World Cup
40 seconds [25]
(3 time-outs (40 sec.) possible)
Poker World Poker Tour 30 seconds
99 seconds (optional) [26]

A related rule to speed up play is that the offensive team has a limited time to advance the ball across the half-court line (the "time line").

See also

Related Research Articles

Basketball Team sport

Basketball is a team sport in which two teams, most commonly of five players each, opposing one another on a rectangular court, compete with the primary objective of shooting a basketball through the defender's hoop while preventing the opposing team from shooting through their own hoop. A field goal is worth two points, unless made from behind the three-point line, when it is worth three. After a foul, timed play stops and the player fouled or designated to shoot a technical foul is given one, two or three one-point free throws. The team with the most points at the end of the game wins, but if regulation play expires with the score tied, an additional period of play (overtime) is mandated.

College basketball Amateur basketball played by students of higher education institutions

College basketball in the United States is governed by collegiate athletic bodies including National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), the United States Collegiate Athletic Association (USCAA), the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA), and the National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA). Each of these various organizations are subdivided into from one to three divisions based on the number and level of scholarships that may be provided to the athletes.

In basketball, a technical foul is any infraction of the rules penalized as a foul which does not involve physical contact during the course of play between opposing players on the court, or is a foul by a non-player. The most common technical foul is for unsportsmanlike conduct. Technical fouls can be assessed against players, bench personnel, the entire team, or even the crowd. These fouls, and their penalties, are more serious than a personal foul, but not necessarily as serious as a flagrant foul.

Free throw Penalty in basketball

In basketball, free throws or foul shots are unopposed attempts to score points by shooting from behind the free throw line, a line situated at the end of the restricted area. Free throws are generally awarded after a foul on the shooter by the opposing team, analogous to penalty shots in other team sports. Free throws are also awarded in other situations, including technical fouls, and when the fouling team has entered the bonus/penalty situation. Also depending on the situation, a player may be awarded between one and three free throws. Each successful free throw is worth one point.

Personal foul (basketball) Illegal contact with an opponent in basketball

In basketball, a personal foul is a breach of the rules that concerns illegal personal contact with an opponent. It is the most common type of foul in basketball. A player fouls out on reaching a limit on personal fouls for the game and is disqualified from participation in the remainder of the game.

Rules of basketball

The rules of basketball are the rules and regulations that govern the play, officiating, equipment and procedures of basketball. While many of the basic rules are uniform throughout the world, variations do exist. Most leagues or governing bodies in North America, the most important of which are the National Basketball Association and NCAA, formulate their own rules. In addition, the Technical Commission of the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) determines rules for international play; most leagues outside North America use the complete FIBA ruleset.

Daniel Biasone was the founding owner of the Syracuse Nationals, an NBA team now known as the Philadelphia 76ers. Biasone, who was a childhood immigrant to the United States from Italy, was mostly known for advocating the use of the shot clock in basketball. Biasone was posthumously inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2000 for his contributions to the sport.

In sports, running out the clock is the practice of a winning team allowing the clock to expire through a series of pre-selected plays, either to preserve a lead or hasten the end of a one-sided contest. Such measures expend time, but do not otherwise have a tactical purpose. This is usually done by a team that is winning by a slim margin near the end of a game, in order to reduce the time available for the opposing team to score. Generally, it is the opposite strategy of running up the score.

Flagrant foul

In basketball, a flagrant foul is a personal foul that involves excessive or violent contact that could injure the fouled player. A flagrant foul may be unintentional or purposeful; the latter type is also called an "intentional foul" in the National Basketball Association (NBA). However, not all intentional fouls are flagrant fouls, as it is an accepted strategy to intentionally commit a foul in order to regain possession of the ball while minimizing how much time elapses on the game clock.

Glossary of basketball terms Wikipedia glossary

This glossary of basketball terms is a list of definitions of terms used in the game of basketball. Like any other major sport, basketball features its own extensive vocabulary of unique words and phrases used by players, coaches, sports journalists, commentators, and fans.

The Trent Tucker Rule is a basketball rule that disallows any regular shot to be taken on the court if the ball is put into play with under 0.3 seconds left in game or shot clock. The rule was adopted in the 1990–91 season and named after New York Knicks player Trent Tucker, and officially adopted in FIBA play starting in 2010. When the WNBA was established in 1997, this rule was adopted too.

Delay of game is an action in a sports game in which a player or team deliberately stalls the game, usually with the intention of using the delay to its advantage. In some sports, the delay of game is considered an infraction if it is longer than that permitted according to the game's rules, in which case a penalty can be issued. Some sports that have a delay of game penalty are American football, Canadian football, ice hockey and association football.

Key (basketball) Area on a basketball court

The key, officially referred to as the free throw lane by the National Basketball Association (NBA), the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), and the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), the restricted area by the international governing body FIBA, and colloquially as the lane or the paint, is a marked area on a basketball court surrounding the basket. It is bounded by the endline, the free-throw line and two side lines, and usually painted in a distinctive color. It is a crucial area on the court where much of the game's action takes place.

During the 1954–55 Syracuse Nationals season, the National Basketball Association (NBA) was struggling financially and down to just 8 teams. Nationals owner Danny Biasone suggested that the league limit the amount of time taken for a shot. Biasone was upset with the stalling tactics of opposing teams. During the summer of 1954, Biasone had gotten together some of his pros and a group of high school players and timed them with a stopwatch. Most shots were taken within 12 seconds, Biasone discovered. Biasone calculated that a 24-second shot clock would allow at least 30 shots per quarter and assist in increasing scoring. The result would speed up a game that often ended with long periods of teams just holding the ball. Quickness and athletic ability became prized as they never had been before. Excessive fouling didn't disappear completely, but just about everyone concluded that the clock was good for the game. The shot clock was a success with the result that scoring was up 14 points per game league wide. In the 1st season of the shot clock, the Nats would take 1st place in the Eastern Division with a 43–29 record.

Bonus (basketball)

In the sport of basketball, the bonus situation occurs when one team accumulates a requisite number of fouls, which number varies depending on the level of play. When one team has committed the requisite number of fouls, each subsequent foul results in the opposing team's taking free throws regardless of the type of foul committed. Teams under the limit are commonly referred to as having fouls to give, and thus they can try to disrupt their opponents without being penalized free throws. These fouls reset every quarter or half depending on the rules in use.

Basketball is a ball game and team sport in which two teams of five players try to score points by throwing or "shooting" a ball through the top of a basketball hoop while following a set of rules. Since being developed by James Naismith as a non-contact game that almost anyone can play, basketball has undergone many different rule variations, eventually evolving into the NBA-style game known today. Basketball is one of the most popular and widely viewed sports in the world.

The 2017 National Invitation Tournament was a single-elimination tournament of 32 NCAA Division I Teams that were not selected to participate in the 2017 NCAA Tournament. The annual tournament was played on campus sites in the first three rounds, with the semifinals and championship game being held at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The tournament began on Tuesday, March 14 and ended on Thursday, March 30. The NIT Selection Show aired Sunday March 12 on ESPNU.

The 2018 National Invitation Tournament was a single-elimination tournament of 32 NCAA Division I college men's basketball teams that were not selected to participate in the 2018 NCAA Tournament. The first three rounds of the annual tournament were played on campus sites. The semifinals and championship game were held at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

The 2019 National Invitation Tournament (NIT) was a single-elimination tournament of 32 NCAA Division I men's college basketball teams that were not selected to participate in the 2019 NCAA Tournament. The tournament started on March 19, and concluded on April 4. The first three rounds were played on campus sites with the higher seeded team acting as host. The semifinals and championship game were held at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

The time line, in basketball, is a name for the center line that reflects the rule that the offensive team has a limited amount of time to advance the ball past this line, from the backcourt to the frontcourt, in a scoring drive.


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