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Upward Basketball


Mid-November to early February. Registration opens in early September

  • Children in K-5th grade
  • Practices start in early November
  • Each team practices one hour per week
  • Practice days are Monday-Friday, 4-8 p.m.
  • Games start in early December, once a week
  • 5th grade teams play an end-of-season tournament

Rules for Upward Basketball

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Upward Basketball games are played under several unique rules. Outside of these rules, the National Federation of High School Associations Rule Book governs play.

  • Man-to-man defense is played at all times in our Kindergarten – 3rd Grade Boys Divisions and Kindergarten – 4th Grade Girls Divisions. Zone defenses are not allowed in these divisions. EXCEPTIONS: The 4th Grade Boys Division is allowed to play zone defense beginning Game #5. 5th Grade Boys and Girls Divisions may play zone at any time.
  • Defensive players will stay mostly in arm’s reach of the player that they are guarding unless providing helpside defense, are in weakside position, or if in a division where Zone Defense is permitted. (Isolation plays are not part of Upward Basketball because they take away the opportunity for improvement for all players and contradict the spirit of the rules.)
  • Double-teaming is not allowed. However, help defense is encouraged in the following instances:
  1. In The Lane Area: If a defender is in the lane, and the player being guarded is within arm’s reach, the defender is allowed to provide help by double-teaming. The intent of this exception is not to encourage a defender to remain near the lane at all times “soft zone” and to double-team the ball each time it enters the lane. The intent is to teach a player “already in the lane” to play help defense.
  2. Off Picks and Screens: Defensive switching is allowed on offensive picks and screens. At the appropriate time, players should return to guarding their assigned player.
  3. During Fast Breaks: When an offensive player has beaten their defender, another defensive player may help. Upon stopping the fast break, defenders should return to guarding their assigned player.
  4. In a situation where helpside defense is played, players may provide help until original defender returns. Once that original defender returns then the helpside defender must bump back to weakside position or to their man.
  • At the beginning of each segment, both coaches should line up highest ranked players across from each other without giving verbal cues.
  • Full-court presses are not allowed in the Kindergarten – 4th Grade Boys and Girls Divisions. Defensive players cannot guard their opponents in the backcourt. EXCEPTION: In the 5th Grade Boys and Girls Division, full-court pressing is allowed beginning with Game Day #5.
  • Due to the shortness of the court, backcourt violations will not be called (with the exception of when playing on a regulation size full-court in the 5th grade division).
  • The offense must purposefully attack the defense in every situation. If, after receiving a warning from the referee, the offense does not cross mid-court, a violation will be called, and the ball will be awarded to the defensive team.
  • Referees will call and explain all violations, and the penalty is a turnover. These explanations vary according to the age group and understanding of the players and should decrease as the season progresses.
  • When possible, referees verbally advise players of potential violations before a violation actually occurs.
  • There are no technical fouls or protest of games.
  • No score is given for a basket in the wrong goal. It will be treated as a turnover. EXCEPTION: 5th Grade Boys and Girls Division.
  • A player committing two fouls in one segment must sit out the remainder of that segment. The next player in the rotation comes in as the substitute. This does not change the normal rotation. The player who has fouled out does not come back in the game until his turn in the rotation comes up again, while the player who comes in as a substitute gains extra playing time. This extra time does not affect the predetermined substitution pattern. EXCEPTION: If a team only has five players at a game, the foul-out rule is replaced by a two-point penalty. In a situation where a player would normally foul out, the opposing team will instead be awarded two points, and play will continue.
  • Non-shooting fouls result in the offended team taking the ball out of bounds. All shooting fouls result in free throws, except in the last two minutes of the game (see below).
  • There are no overtimes in Upward Basketball with the EXCEPTION of the 5th Grade Boys and Girls Division. In this division one (2) minute overtime will be played. If at the end of this time the game is still tied it will remain tied.
  • The game clock runs continuously. In the final two minutes of the game, the following rules go into effect:
  1. Non-shooting fouls result in the offensive team getting one point and the ball out of bounds.
  2. Shooting fouls result in the offensive team getting two points. The opposing team then takes possession.
  3. Players fouled in the act of shooting who make the basket are credited with the basket plus one point. The opposing team then takes possession.

The substitution system is designed to provide every player equal opportunity for improvement. The substitution system ensures that:

  • Every child will play at least half of the game.
  • No child will sit out more than six minutes at a time.
  • Every child will have an opportunity to be in the starting lineup.
  • In most cases, each child will play against someone of equal ability.
  • Coaches are not open to making unfair substitutions or being accused of such.
  • Coaches are free from monitoring playing time for each player.
  • Playing time for all players is virtually even over the course of the season.

Equipment (Optional for home practice)
Please reference the basketball sizes below:

  • Kindergarten Boys and Girls: 25 in.
  • 1st Boys and Girls: 27.5 in.
  • 2nd Girls: 27.5 in.
  • 2nd Boys: 28.5 in.
  • 3rd-5th Boys and Girls: 28.5 in.

Please reference the goal heights below:

  • Kindergarten Boys and Girls: 7 feet
  • 1st-2nd Boys and Girls: 8 feet
  • 3rd-4th Boys and Girls: 9 feet
  • 5th Boys and Girls: 10 feet

All games, practices, and evaluations take place at the fields at Johnson Ferry.


John Griffith


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