REMINDER: FIBA has announced a number of rule changes that will take effect on October 1, 2020, to the Official Basketball Rules.  You can see both a summary and a detailed record of the changes at...


FIBA Official Basketball Rule Changes – Valid October 1, 2020
Canadian Basketball Stakeholder:

In late March, the FIBA Central Board approved a small number of changes to the Official Basketball
Rules. The changes are identified in a document available at the following link:
  • FIBA Rules Changes (Valid October 1,2020) – ENGLISH
  • FIBA Rule Changes (Valid October 1,2020) – FRENCH
It is important to recognize that these rule changes are to be in force as of October 1, 2020. The rule
changes are relatively minor in nature and will not have a large impact on the way the game is played or

The purpose of this document is to ‘socialize’ the information such that as a Basketball Stakeholder you
may be aware of the change, it is not to answer questions that may arise. These need to wait until such
time as interpretations and teaching materials are made available.

While we encourage reference to the official documentation, the following summary is provided to
describe the change and the potential effect on the game here in Canada.

Summary of Changes:

1. Article 5 – Players: Injury
The rule, itself, addresses the procedures to follow when a player is injured on the court. The
change is very minor and simply adds the concept of “and assistance”.

The addition does not result in any change to how the rule is administered, it merely provides
clarification that the injured player does not need to receive “treatment” to require the player to
be replaced, the mere entry onto the court by “coaches, team members and/or accompanying
delegation members” to provide “assistance” triggers the requirement for the injured player to be

There is no change as to how we have administered the rule for years – it just attempts to take
away some “confusion” in certain international locales in how the rule was administered.

2. Article 15 – Player in the Act of Shooting
The rule is amended to introduce concepts that define “act of shooting” in two different
circumstances – (1) when a player is a stationary shooter (example - a jump shot) and (2) when a
player who becomes a shooter when in a continuous movement on a drive, catching a pass in the
air or ending a dribble.

The old rule was not clear that there is a difference in these two circumstances. The rule change
clarifies that in the first example the “Act of Shooting” on a normal shot begins on the upward
motion and in the second example, on a player in a continuous movement on drives or other
moving shots, “Act of Shooting” begins when the ball comes to rest in the player’s hands and the
player starts the shooting motion.

There will be a need nationally to teach and clarify the wording change – but as the FIBA
document describes, the change of wording in the rule should be seen as being for the purposes
of clarification as opposed to a rule change.

3. Article 33 Contact: General Principles
In recent years we have seen more game situations where the defensive player encroaches into
the cylinder of the offensive player. These situations generate actions by both the offense and the
defense that are not good for the game, situations of contact with elbows, head contact and
faking. The concept of a player’s cylinder has long been an important concept in the FIBA rules.
However, the rules have only ever addressed the concept of a defensive player’s cylinder.
The rule language introduces a cylinder definition for the offensive player and clarifies legal
actions and movement within that cylinder and clarifies who is responsible for an illegal contact
when a defender enters the offensive player’s cylinder. The defensive player may not enter the
cylinder of an offensive player with the ball and make illegal contact.

The change is to ensure the FIBA Concept of “balance” between the offense and defense is
restored in these situations and provides additional guidelines for making decisions around

There will be a need nationally to teach and clarify the impacts of the wording change – but there
are advantages to having some time to think about how the introduction of an offensive players’
cylinder helps to “clean the game”. 

4. Article 35 Double Foul
The 2018 rule changes adjusted the Double Foul rule and introduced to it the concept of “equal
penalties” and required referees to determine which foul, in a battle for position might have
occurred first. The difficulties created meant that referees had all but stopped calling double
fouls. The rule change eliminates the concept of “equal penalties” and introduces the concept
that both fouls must be of the same category – personal, unsportsmanlike / disqualifying.
This change will restore the balance between the offense and defense in these circumstances and
see a return to the historic decision-making around double fouls as a tool to keep the game clean
and under control.

5. Article 37 Unsportsmanlike Foul
Three changes can be found in the Unsportsmanlike Foul rule - two very minor and the other for
the purpose of correcting an inequity in the rule. There remain 5 categories of Unsportsmanlike

There are small changes in the wording of the C-1 category – “not legitimately attempting to
directly play the ball” – and C-3 “unnecessary contact by the defense to stop the progress of
offensive team in transition” – neither impacting how we make decisions on the play.
The significant change is in C-4 - clarify when a team is on a “fast break”. The concept of “offense”
and “defense” has been eliminated from the C-4 rule – such that a new team control is not
necessary for a UF C-4 to apply. The other criteria – illegal contact from behind or laterally and no
other players (rather than defensive player) between the ball and the basket remain and remain
unchanged. The (new) requirement is simply that the illegal contact is on a player “who is
progressing towards the opponent’s basket”. This eliminates a requirement for a (new) team
control, such that a player who is “close to catching the ball with a clear open path to the
opponent’s basket” and is fouled with the criteria of illegal contact from behind or laterally and no
others players between the ball and the basket being present will have been fouled – by rule - in
an unsportsmanlike manner.

Teaching of the change will be necessary – but the elimination of the team control requirement
simplifies the rule.

6. Article 49 Timer: Duties
This is simply a “text change” to clarify certain duties of the table officials and aligns with the
generally used Canadian concept of how the table officials operate. It should not create any

7. Appendix B – The Scoresheet
This change adds new text to clarify how a “coach” is penalized if he leaves the bench area and is
actively involved in a fight. He shall only be charged with one disqualifying foul.

8. Appendix F – Instant Replay System
There are 2 important “editorial” changes to the rules involving the Instant Replay System (IRS).
These changes have little impact on the majority of basketball played domestically here in
Canada but are important for our National Teams traveling to international competitions and our
FIBA Licensed Officials who travel.

Firstly, the rule identifying the use of the IRS (i.e. - when it may be used) is completely moved to
Appendix F.

Secondly, a fulsome procedure is introduced as to how the IRS should be used. This is based on
the work FIBA has been doing to refine the procedure.

Noting again, that these rule changes, effective, October 1, 2020, are relatively minor in nature and will
not have a large impact on the way the game is played or officiated.

The purpose of this document is to ‘socialize’ the information such that as a Basketball Stakeholder you
may be aware of the change, it is not to answer questions that may arise, as it is not possible to answer
specific, detailed questions at this time.

Notwithstanding, questions of a general nature may be directed to Cam Moskal, CABO, National
Interpreter at or Mike Thomson, Manager Officials Development at




You can view a collection of all current 5x5 and 3x3 rulebooks HERE.

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