Full Speed and Half Court: A Guide to the FIBA 3x3 Rules

Basketball is arguably the most popular sport in the world right now. Every continent hosts a high-end league: the U.S. has the NBA, WNBA, the NCAA, and NCAAW; Australia has its NBL; Europa and Asia have FIBA; and Africa now has the BAL, a joint effort between the NBA and FIBA. Between professional, amateur, and streetball leagues, basketball in all its forms permeates our lives and provides tons of entertainment.

One version of the sport, 3x3, has become a global hit. And while most spectators are familiar with the rules of traditional basketball, the new iterations of 3x3 have a tighter game structure and faster play. Much, much faster play.


FIBA, or the Fédération Internationale de Basketball Amateur, began working on the rules for 3x3 basketball in 2007 when the organization identified a deep interest in the game by European and Asian youth athletes. Their goal at the time was to introduce the sport as an experimental version of basketball at the 2010 Youth Olympic Games in Singapore.

The simple logistics of 3x3 held broad appeal to organizers due to the ease of infrastructure and limited equipment needed to play. The players and game culture were positive and energetic, and the sport was wildly popular at the 2010 YOG. Later that year, FIBA created a final set of rules and a roadmap for international competitions and an online players community. By 2012, the FIBA 3x3 World Cup and the FIBA 3x3 World Tour received greenlighting, and the FIBA Central Board approved the launch of the integrated competition network.

FIBA 3x3 World Map showing participating countries


This version of basketball deviates from traditional basketball on nearly every level. The game encompasses fast play, small teams, and non-stop action. The official long-version FIBA regulations span 70 pages, and the short version spans nine. Rather than going into the fine details, here is an overview of the rules by category: court, ball, teams, gameplay, scoring, and winning.


Three “Ex” Three, as it’s called, is played with one hoop on 15 x 11-meter court with one basket. A court designed for this game has a normal court-sized zone, a free-throw line, a 2-point line, and a no-charge semicircle under the basket. 3x3 teams can also play using half of a standard basketball court.


The 3x3 ball is unique to the sport. It weighs as much as a full-sized basketball, but it is a size 6 (28.5”) intermediate ball. It also has grooves to maximize the player’s grip, and an all-surface rubber cover to meet the challenges created by the speed of the game.


In case it’s not obvious, this game consists of two opposing teams of four players total, with three on the court and one as a substitute. Game management includes two regular officials, three table officials, and one supervisor.


This basketball game lasts for ten incredibly fast minutes. A coin toss determines who has the first ball possession. Tardiness will cost a team the game: all three players from each team must be on the court and ready to play when at the scheduled starting game time.

The shot clock in 3x3 lasts for 12 seconds. When one team scores a basket, the opposing team gets immediate possession of the ball.


Baskets scored inside the arc on the court count as one point. Shots scored outside the arc count for two points, and free throws count for one point.


The team in the lead at the end of ten minutes wins the game. If a team scores 21 points before the end of the ten minutes, they win the game regardless of the remaining time. If the score is tied at ten minutes, the game goes into overtime, and the winning team is the first to score two points.


  • A FIBA 3x3 game allows one 30-second time-out during the game.
  • FIBA 3x3 is open to both men and women.
  • Foul penalties would be one free throw, or two free throws if the foul occurred behind the arc.

Wilson partnered with FIBA to design and supply the official game ball for 3x3, and in 2019, created a special-edition for the FIBA 3x3 World Tour Final. From neighborhood pick-up games to Olympic-level gameplay, 3x3’s global popularity continues to soar. Casual players love the feel and bounce of the unique ball, and spectators immerse themselves in the lightning-fast gameplay of elite FIBA athletes. It’s a sport for everyone to watch, play, and enjoy, and in which every basket is a highlight.

Check out the latest news and event schedules at the FIBA Basketball site, and check back with our blog often as we are continually adding entertaining and informative content.