An alternating possession is a rule or a method in basketball adopted by NFHS, NCAA and FIBA used to settle jump ball situations after the tipoff opening. It is basically a way of putting the ball into play using the inbounds pass instead of the usual jump ball. The one who is awarded the possession of the ball is determined using the possession arrow. This rule or method is not being used in professional basketball leagues like the NBA.

Alternating Possession Facts

The alternating possession was created in 1981. Before its creation, the method used in determining the team who will have the possession of the ball was always through a physical jump ball.

The alternating possession rule was introduced in amateur league basketball, specifically college basketball. Almost every level below college basketball use this rule or system of play.

Furthermore, there are reasons behind the implementation of the rule and the main one is speeding up gameplay. Another reason is to ensure that taller players will not dominate ball possession, which usually happens if a jump ball is followed. Basically, the rule offers a just and fairer way in resolving tied situations that happen in basketball games.

Determining Ball Possession

In determining which team will be awarded ball possession using the alternating possession rule, there are a few guidelines that need to be followed. The main one is that the first team that gets the arrow benefit is equivalent to the team that loses the jump ball. This guideline means that the next jump will be given automatically to the team who lost possession of the ball during the first jump and will continue switching or alternating back and forth. In addition, the team that owns the possession arrow right at the end of the quarter or the first half will automatically possess the ball and start the play in the next period.

On the other hand, the rule is also used to determine the team who will get possession of the ball after an unclear out of bounds play. If referees cannot determine who gets the ball, then possession will go to the team that has the arrow. This is done in lieu of forcing the referees to make a call that they are not sure of.