The rules of basketball 3x3 are similar to a traditional game of basketball, but there are some key differences that should be noted when the sport makes its Olympic debut at the Tokyo Games.
As the name suggests, basketball 3x3 is played with three players on the court for each team. However, both teams are allowed one substitute throughout the game. This substitute can be "tagged in" during a stoppage of play and allow for other players to rest on the bench.
In basketball 3x3, the court is vastly different from a court used for full basketball game of 5x5. Instead of being played on a full court with one basket on each end, basketball 3x3 is played on a half court with only one basket.
The ball used for basketball 3x3 is also different from a "normal" basketball. Basketball 3x3 uses a slightly smaller ball that allows for better ball handling and compliments the increased speed of the game.
At the beginning of each game, a coin toss helps determine which team gets the ball first. The team that wins the coin toss has the option of starting the regulation period with the ball or opting to wait until a potential overtime period to receive the first possession.
After a dead ball situation, players from both teams execute a "check ball" (a swift exchanging of the ball between the offensive and defensive player) behind the three-point line. Check ball situations are not executed after a team scores a field goal.
Following a successful field goal, a defensive player will play the ball from a semi-circle located directly below the hoop. While a competitor is playing the ball within the semi-circle, players from the opposing team are not allowed to attempt to steal the ball or physically impede their ability to make a play.
In traditional basketball, a player must attempt a shot within 24 seconds. The shot clock helps players keep track of this time while they are on the floor. The same applies for basketball 3x3, but unlike basketball at 5x5, they only have 12 seconds to attempt a shot before the shot clock expires.
In basketball at 5x5, a field goal taken from beyond the arc is worth three points while a field goal from inside the arc is worth two. For basketball 3x3, though, a field goal from beyond the arc is only worth two points. Any shot taken from inside the arc is worth one point. Free throws are worth one point each -- the same as a game of full team basketball.
Transitioning from offense to defense is one of the big differences between traditional basketball and basketball 3x3. Instead of a player on the opposing team playing the ball from the end line after a successful field goal and advancing up the court into the offensive end, they play the ball from a semi-circle under the hoop (as mentioned above). Playing on a half court, the transition from offense to defense (or vice versa) is instantaneous, creating a nonstop pace unique to basketball 3x3.
How to win
The first team to score 21 points is awarded a victory in basketball 3x3. If neither team is able to score 21 points within 10 minutes, the team with the most points during that time period wins. If overtime is necessary, the first team to score two points earns the victory.