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Special Olympics Basketball Rules and Information

  • Synopsis: Published: 2010-07-11 - Special Olympics has a number of rules associated with the basketball games played in their competitions. For further information pertaining to this article contact: Disabled World.
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Special Olympics has a number of rules associated with the basketball games played in their competitions.

Special Olympics is an international program involving sports and athletic competition for both children and adults with disabilities. The mission of Special Olympics is to provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a number of Olympic-type sports for individuals with disabilities. Special Olympics achieves their mission by presenting athletes with ongoing opportunities to develop their physical fitness, experience the joys of sports, the chance to demonstrate their courage, and to participate in the sharing of skills, gifts, and friendships with their families and other athletes, as well as the community. The Special Olympics Oath is, "Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt."

The Game of Basketball

Basketball is played by two teams of five athletes each in a game of five-on-five, or two teams of three athletes each in a game of three-on-three. The goal is for each team to shoot the ball into its opponent's basket while preventing the other team from either securing the ball, or scoring. The ball can be thrown, passed, batted, tapped, or dribbled in any direction according to restrictions in the Rules.

Special Olympics has a number of rules associated with the basketball games played in their competitions. According to the Rules, basketball games involve:

  • Intermission is 10 minutes long.
  • Five-on-five games that include two halves of 20 minutes each.
  • Five-on-five games that include four quarters of 8 minutes each.
  • All competition may be modified by local tournament organizers.
  • A scorer, a timer, and a 30-second clock operator assist the referees.
  • Three-on-three games are 20 minutes in length or until a team scores 20 points, whichever occurs first.

To begin a five-on-five game, the referee tosses the ball between any two opponents at the center circle in order to start the game, as well as each extra period as necessary. The teams shoot at their opponent's basket during the first half. On a neutral court, the referee tosses a coin to determine the baskets. In a three-on-three game; however, the game is started with a coin toss for team possession; there is no jump ball.

A ball is considered to be, 'out of play,' when it touches any sideline, baseline, or anything outside the lines. The ball is put in play by the team opposite of that which caused it to go out of bounds. Two points are awarded whenever a player makes a basket that is shot inside of the three-point arc. Three points are awarded when a player makes a basket outside of the three-point arc, and one-point is awarded for each free throw.

Should a player block, hold, charge, trip, hold, impede the progress of an opponent by extending their arm, shoulder or knee, or by bending their body into other than usual position, or use rough tactics - a personal foul is called. The offended player receives two free throws if they were in the act of shooting and missed due to the foul. On the seventh foul in a half, the player fouled is permitted a one-and-one situation. On the tenth foul and thereafter in a half, the player fouled is permitted two shots. Before the seventh foul in a half, the team that has been offended against receives the ball out-of-bounds nearest the spot of the foul. In a three-on-three game, the player who has been offended receives the ball at a designated spot above the free-throw line.

Infractions involving handling of the ball itself, such as:

  • Traveling
  • Double-dribbling
  • Carrying the ball
  • Stepping on the line
  • Causing the ball to go out of play
  • Entering the free throw lane before the ball has left the shooter's hand

Are all penalized by awarding the ball out-of-bounds at the nearest point, commonly on the sideline from where the infraction happened. A throw is made from this point by the team that has been offended against. In a three-on-three game, the ball is taken at the designated spot above the free-throw line.

When two opponents hold the ball simultaneously it is referred to as a, 'held ball,' and the ball is given to the teams on alternate possessions. Should this occur during an international competition, a jump ball is administered. A technical foul is called for delay of game, or for unsportsmanlike conduct. The team that has been offended against receives two free throws and receives the ball out-of-bounds. In a five-on-five game, each team receives five time-outs during play.

Assessing and Matching Athletes with Events

The importance of providing athletes with the opportunity to participate in sports and events while giving them encouragement cannot be overstated. Safety and health; however, remain paramount. Sports and events must provide safe, challenging, and meaningful opportunities for all athletes. Should a sufficient number of athletes exist, wheelchair basketball is a very appropriate sport for non-ambulatory athletes. If there are not a sufficient number of athletes for full five-on-five participation, it is important for coaches to provide assistance in referring athletes to community programs. Basketball can take on a number of forms.

Skills Basketball are ideal for wheelchair athletes, while Speed Dribble and/or Team Skills Basketball are ideal for athletes with physical impairments. Half-court, three-on-three, Speed Dribble and/or Team Skills Basketball, or Speed Dribble are ideal for athletes with visual impairments. It is important for basketball coaches to consider competition opportunities for which each particular athlete should train.

Speed Dribble: Speed Dribble is appropriate for athletes who are either non-ambulatory or very low skilled.

Individual Skills Contest: Individual Skills Contest is appropriate for athletes who have slow reactions, are unable to dribble the ball for greater than ten meters, do not participate in an active manner, or do not move to catch even a slow moving ball.

Team Skills Basketball: Team Skills Basketball is appropriate for athletes who are low-skilled, non-ambulatory, or who are unable to pass and catch.

3-on-3 Basketball: Three-on-three basketball is appropriate for athletes who are able to dribble a ball at least ten meters, shoot a lay-up, pass and catch, recognize the difference between teammates and opponents, and pursue a moving ball. Three-on-three is also appropriate where the facilities are limited and half-court is more available, or where half-court is more common within the community.

Full-Court 5-on-5 Basketball: Five-on-five basketball is appropriate for athletes who have good basic skills, as well as a good understanding of the basic tactics and rules of the game of basketball and endurance.

Unified Sports Basketball: Unified Sports Basketball is appropriate for athletes with higher skills.

In order to participate in Special Olympics, athletes must be at least eight years old and have been identified by either an agency or a professional as having:

  • Mental Retardation
  • Cognitive Delays as measured by formal assessment
  • Significant learning or vocational problems due to cognitive delay

Special Olympics provides athletes with year-round training and opportunities for competition in twenty-four official sports. The benefits of participation for athletes include improved motor skills and physical fitness, increased self-confidence and self-image, friendships, and increased family support. Since the year 1968, when Eunice Kennedy Shriver organized the First International Special Olympics Games at Soldier Field, millions of children and adults with disabilities have participated in Special Olympics.





Information from our Special Olympics: Game Rules & Events section - (Full List).


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