3x3 (pronounced 3 on 3, 3 by 3 or 3x3) basketball is a form of the game played three a side on one hoop. It is the largest urban team sport of the world (ESSEC study commissioned by IOC). This basketball discipline is currently being promoted and structured[1] by FIBA, the sport's governing body. Its main competition is an annual FIBA 3X3 World Tour,[2] comprising a series of Masters and one Final tournament awarding six-figure prize money in US dollars. The FIBA 3x3 World Cups for men and women are the highest tournaments for national 3x3 teams.

3x3 basketball
FIBA 3x3 Logo black.png
Highest governing bodyFIBA
Team members4 (3 on court)
Mixed genderSingle or mixed
TypeIndoor or outdoor
OlympicYouth Olympic Games since 2010
Becoming Olympic in 2020



3×3 has been a basketball format long played in streets and gyms across the world, albeit in a less formal way. Starting in the late 1980s, three-on-three began to become standardized throughout the United States, most notably through the Gus Macker[3] and Hoop It Up[4] tournament series, which held large events across the country that invited teams and players from all skill levels. Adidas launched its now-discontinued streetball competition[5] in 1992. Since then, the number of 3×3 events and competitions has been steadily growing all around the world.

FIBA took the decision to first test 3x3 at the 2007 Asian Indoor Games in Macau. Further test events were held in April 2008 in the Dominican Republic and October 2008 in Indonesia. The international debut was at the 2009 Asian Youth Games: 19 teams in the boys' tournament and 16 teams in the girls' tournament. All games were held at Anglican High School, Singapore. Finally, 3x3 made its worldwide competitive debut at the 2010 Summer Youth Olympics in Singapore. The competition featured 20 teams in both boys' and girls' categories. The competition was held at the Youth Space, Singapore. Since then World Championships in both open and U18 categories are held on a regular basis.

After the success in Singapore, FIBA launched a full programme to make 3x3 a standalone discipline with its own regular competitions. 3x3 is scheduled to make its Olympic debut at the 2020 Summer Olympics.

Rules of the gameEdit

3x3 basketball game
A men's international match between Romania and Slovenia in Bucharest (September, 2014)

FIBA releases from time-to-time a 3x3 supplement to its official basketball rules. The rules state that regular FIBA rules apply to all situations not specifically addressed in the FIBA 3x3 rules. The current set, both in an abbreviated version[6] and longer format,[7] was published in January 2019 and a video has been posted on YouTube.[8]

Under the current rules, the departures from regular full-court basketball are as follows:

  • Each team consists of three players and one substitute. Each team must have 3 players on the court when the game begins.
  • The game is played on a half-court, with one basket. The official court is 15 metres (49 ft) wide (the same as FIBA's standard for the full-court game) by 11 metres (36 ft) in length (compared to FIBA's standard half-court distance of 14 metres (46 ft). However, the rules specifically state that half of a standard FIBA full court is an acceptable playing area for official competitions.
  • The basketball is unique to 3x3, and is used in all competitions, whether men's, women's, or mixed. Its circumference is that of the size 6 basketball (28.5 in, 720 mm)[9] used in the women's full-court game. However, its weight is that of the size 7 standard (22 oz, 620 g)[9] used in the men's full-court game.[10]
  • A jump ball is not used to start the game. Instead, a coin toss is held immediately before the game. The winning team can choose to take possession of the ball at the start of the game, or take the first possession of a potential overtime period. In turn, this means that if the game goes into overtime, the first possession goes to the team that started the game on defense.
  • There are no jump balls at any time in the game; neither is there an alternating possession rule. In any held ball situation, the defensive team is granted possession.
  • Every successful shot inside the arc is awarded one point, while every successful shot behind the arc is awarded two points.
  • The game is a single period of 10 minutes with sudden death at 21 points. The winner is the first team to score 21 or the team with the highest score at the end of the 10 minutes. A tie in regulation leads to an untimed overtime period, which is won by the first team to score two points in overtime. Note that if a game is tied at 20 at the end of regulation, reaching 21 does not end the game.
  • Game play starts with the defensive team exchanging the ball with the offensive team behind the arc. This exchange is also used to restart the game from any dead ball situation. If a foul is committed that results in the non-fouling team retaining possession — i.e., a technical or "unsportsmanlike" foul (the latter essentially the same as the "flagrant foul" of North American rule sets) — the non-fouling team will receive the exchange.
  • A 12-second shot clock is used.
  • If the defense gains possession of the ball within the arc, by a steal, a block or a rebound, the team must move the ball behind the arc before being allowed to take a shot.
  • After a made goal or free throw (except for technical or unsportsmanlike fouls and team fouls 10 or more), play restarts with a player from the non-scoring team taking the ball directly under the basket and then dribbling or passing it to a point behind the arc. The defense is not allowed to play for the ball inside the block/charge semi-circle under the basket.
  • The only common feature between the substitution procedure in full-court and 3x3 is that it can occur only in a dead ball situation. In 3x3, a substitute can only enter from behind the end line opposite the basket, and the substitution becomes official once the player leaving the game has made physical contact with the substitute. Unlike the full-court game, no action from referees or table officials is required.
  • Each team is allowed one timeout. (The officials may still stop the game in case of player injury or other dangerous situations, as in the standard FIBA rules.)
  • Individual personal foul counts are not kept. In other words, players cannot be disqualified on the basis of personal fouls. However, a player who commits two unsportsmanlike fouls is disqualified.
  • Fouls during the act of shooting inside the arc are awarded 1 free throw, whilst fouls during the act of shooting behind the arc are awarded 2 free throws. However, team fouls 7, 8 and 9 are awarded 2 free throws, whilst team fouls 10 or more are awarded 2 free throws and possession of the ball. The "bonus" rule specifically supersedes the normal rule for fouls in the act of shooting.
    • Nonetheless, offensive fouls (if not technical or unsportsmanlike) never result in free throws, regardless of the number of team fouls.


FIBA sees 3x3 as a major vehicle for promotion of the game of basketball throughout the world. FIBA Secretary General and IOC member, Patrick Baumann considers: "The 3x3 concept has all the elements and skills required for basketball, it has inspired and will continue to inspire many great players in the future. At the same time, it is the easiest and one of the most effective ways to bring youngsters to basketball, keep them and promote our game. Finally FIBA 3x3 can and will promote key educational and social values to the next generations".[11]

FIBA is pursuing a unique click and brick strategy to implement 3x3. FIBA has developed a digital community, 3x3planet.com[12] that acts as repository all FIBA-endorsed 3x3 events worldwide and offers all players an individual world ranking[13] based on the points earned by players at FIBA-endorsed 3x3 events.

Any event in the world can become FIBA-endorsed by using FIBA's freeware, EventMaker,[14] to organise the event. All FIBA-endorsed 3x3 events are classified within an established competition hierarchy, thus forming an official competition network. The pinnacle of this competition network is the FIBA 3x3 World Tour,[15] that is a series of World Tour Masters and one Final. A team can qualify to a World Tour Masters by playing in any of the designated World Tour qualifiers.

The NBA has also embraced 3x3, holding a summer series of tournaments known as "Dew NBA 3X" since 2016, where local amateur players from around the US compete in regional events for cash prizes and a finals berth. The men's and women's NBA 3X champions then advance to the USA Basketball national 3x3 championship to potentially represent their country internationally.[16] These tournaments also include live music performances, 3-point shooting contests for fans, an NBA 2K eSports competition, and appearances from current NBA players. In 2017, entertainer Ice Cube and entertainment executive Jeff Kwatinetz founded BIG3, where former NBA and US college basketball stars compete in a traveling league using rules slightly different than the FIBA rulebook, and also using a ball that meets the specifications for the men's full-court game instead of the FIBA 3x3 ball.

Qualification for the FIBA 3x3 World Cups for men and women differs radically from that used for FIBA full-court competitions. According to a 2018 story in The New York Times, 3x3 has "an unusual qualifying system designed to grow the sport all year long as much as find the best teams for the World Cup."National team entries are based strictly on a country's official 3x3 ranking. Even a ranking that would ostensibly qualify a national team for the World Cup is not sufficient to gain entry, because FIBA currently mandates that the 20 men's and women's teams that participate in a given year's World Cups come from 30 different countries, making it more difficult for nations with strong teams for both sexes to enter both into the World Cup. For example, the US qualified for the 2018 women's World Cup but not the men's version, even though the men were ranked higher than the women on the cutoff date. Merely participating in a FIBA-sanctioned 3x3 event can earn ranking points; according to a FIBA executive interviewed for the New York Times story, "Andorra has heavy participation every weekend." Another issue is the current concentration of ranking events in Europe, making it more difficult for non-European nations, especially the US, to qualify. Additionally, the ranking system for national teams also considers individual player rankings. The aforementioned FIBA executive, when asked about the prospect of the 2020 Olympic debut of 3x3 potentially lacking any participation from the US, admitted that "a lot of teams want to beat the US. Beating the US teams is an achievement."[17]

World CupsEdit

After the success of the 2010 Summer Youth Olympics, FIBA established a regular World Cup, always men and women simultaneously, in open, U23 and U18 categories. They are all played every single year with the only expections of Youth Olympic Games and the Olympic Games.

Classification to the World Cup is based on the 3x3 Federation Ranking,[18] which ranks all National Federations based on the 3x3 Individual World Ranking points of their top 100 nationals (with a confirmed play.fiba3x3.com account) in the respective category (men, women, U23 men, U23 women, U18 men, U18 women).

In addition to team competitions, World Cups also feature individual competitions such as dunking and shooting.

International GamesEdit

3x3 basketball was one of the sports contested at the 2015 European Games in Baku, Azerbaijan.

On June 9, 2017, the Executive Board of the International Olympic Committee announced that 3x3 basketball would be added to the Olympic programme for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan, for both men and women.[19]

In August 2017, it was announced that 3x3 basketball would be held at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England.[20]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "FIBA.basketball". FIBA.basketball.
  2. ^ "The official website of FIBA 3x3 World Tour 2018". FIBA.basketball.
  3. ^ https://macker.com
  4. ^ "Hoop It Up". HOOP IT UP 3x3.
  5. ^ Fuchs, Christian (23 July 2012). "Streetball in Deutschland: Aus dem Ghetto auf den Rathausplatz" – via Spiegel Online.
  6. ^ "3x3 Rules of the Game (table format)" (PDF). FIBA. January 2016. Retrieved 2 October 2018.
  7. ^ "FIBA 3x3 Official Rules of the Game (text format)" (PDF). FIBA. January 2018. Retrieved 2 October 2018.
  8. ^ FIBA3x3. "The Official Rules of the Game - FIBA 3x3" – via YouTube.
  9. ^ a b "Basketball Size Chart - Recommended Sizes for Mom & Me". www.breakthroughbasketball.com. Retrieved 2018-02-05.
  10. ^ "Wilson to provide the Official Game Ball for FIBA" (Press release). Amer Sports. 9 June 2015. Retrieved 17 August 2015.
  11. ^ "3-on-3 hoops set to debut at Youth Olympics". ESPN.com. 13 August 2010.
  12. ^ http://www.3x3planet.com/
  13. ^ "FIBA 3x3 Individual World Ranking Quick Guide" (PDF).
  14. ^ http://www.3x3planet.com/About/Event-Maker/
  15. ^ "The official website of FIBA 3x3 World Tour 2018". FIBA.basketball.
  16. ^ http://dewnba3x.com
  17. ^ Mather, Victor (2018-06-07). "U.S. Team Could Dominate 3-on-3 Basketball. If Only It Could Qualify". The New York Times. Retrieved 2018-08-25.
  18. ^ "Qualification to national-team based 3x3 Official Competitions" (PDF).
  19. ^ "Tokyo 2020 event programme to see major boost for female participation, youth and urban appeal". International Olympic Committee. 13 June 2017.
  20. ^ "Birmingham include 3x3 basketball and Urban Street Festival as part of 2022 Commonwealth Games plans". www.insidethegames.biz. 10 August 2017.

External linksEdit