The 3 Seconds Rule

The Three-seconds Rule Statistical Tracking:

by Prof. Roberto Azar - July 15, 2011

The rule states:
While his team is in ball control - BC|control of the ball, a player shall NOT remain for more than three (3) consecutive seconds in the opponents´ restricted area.
The lines bounding the lane|restricted area are part of the restricted area and a player touching one of these lines is in the area.
The 3 second restriction is in force in all out-of-bounds situations.

The 3 second restriction does NOT apply:
a. While the ball is in the air during a shot for goal.
b. During a rebound.
c. When the ball is dead.
Allowance must be made for a player who, having been in the restricted area for less than 3 seconds, gets the ball inside the key. The player now has 3 more seconds to shoot or pass and get out of the key.

The intent of the three-second rule is to not allow an offensive player to gain an advantage. Referees will not call this violation if the player is not gaining an advantage.
There is no three-second count between the release of a shot and the control of a rebound, at which time a new count starts.
There is no three-second count during a throw-in.
There is no three-second count while the ball is in the backcourt.

There are number of clarifications in the three-second rule. These include:

In order for a player to establish himself outside the restricted area, he must place both feet outside the restricted area.

A violation should not be called on a player making an attempt to leave the restricted area.The Three-seconds Rule Statistical Registration
A violation should not be called on a player who is in the restricted area when he or a team-mate inside or outside the restricted area is in the act of shooting and the ball is leaving or has just left the hand(s).

A three-second violation cannot be called unless the team in possession has control of a live ball on the court. The count for a three-second violation does not begin until a player on the court is in control of the ball after a throw-in, from out-of-bounds.

Case Book:
A 3 seconds count continue during an interrupted dribble.
Rule 9-7-1 says: "when the ball is in control of his/her team...". You DO NOT lose team control during an interrupted dribble, only player control.

Here is the correction from the Case Book, page 66-67:
Rule 9.7.2: Delete the last three words "or interrupted dribble" in the second to the last sentence of the ruling.

League Differences:
There are two major differences between FIBA (external link) and NBA (external link) rules: in the NBA, the three second count applies only when the ball is in bounds in the front court; meanwhile, in FIBA the count is in effect whenever a team has control of the ball inbounds.

In the NBA the 3-second count is suspended if the ball is loose.

We know that the basketball (external link) 3 seconds count is over once a shot goes off, but of course, the whistle doesn't always go off before the ball is released...

The problem with the three second rule is that those little details of the rule do not mean much: referees generally call three second violations based on the spirit and intent of the rule. A player should touch both feet outside the lane before reentering. But if the player gets himself out of that vertical space marked by the lane lines, they have met the intent of the rule. If a player is legs apart over the lane line and lift the foot in the lane but makes no attempt to draw the foot back outside the lane, a referee would likely continue the count.

If a player only has a foot inside the lane and they are away from the play, no skilled official would call a violation because no advantage was gained.

To resolve any other question about the three second rule, ask yourself: "Was an advantage gained that was not intended by rule ?" If there was, it is a violation.

This topic is analyzed in the exposition "Time Played" in the Basketball Statistics Course at eBA ONLINE(external link).

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Created by azarober. Last Modification: Friday 25 of August, 2017 09:10:03 EDT by azarober. (Version 6)