Upward Sports Play with Purpose


Coaching kids basketball

Upward Blue Star Basketball Game Format

The rules unique to Upward Sports are designed to provide the best sports experience for every child. Select from the sports below to learn more.

The game format, substitution system and rules for game play which are unique to Upward Basketball are designed to provide the best sports experience for every child. Play is governed by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) rules except when rules unique to Upward Basketball apply. See www.nfhs.org for more information.

Game Format

  • Games consist of two eighteen-minute halves and an eight-minute halftime. This keeps games to approximately a forty-five-minute time frame. It also allows games that are scheduled on the hour to begin and end on time.
  • A coin toss or other impartial method determines which team receives possession first. In jump-ball situations, possessions will alternate. This promotes fairness for both teams while adhering to the NFHS rule for jump ball situations.
  • Referees will call and explain all violations, serving as an “in the game” coach. The detail of explanations will vary according to the age group and understanding of the players and should decrease as the season progresses.
  • During each six-minute segment the clock runs continuously. The clock will stop at the end of each segment for predetermined substitutions. This allows coaches to line up and match substitutions based on height and ability without wasting valuable game time. This time should not be treated as a timeout. This is a great time for cheerleaders to do a quick cheer.
  • No timeouts are used in Upward Basketball. This allows more playing time and keeps the games on time.
  • At the end of each six-minute segment, the team that receives the ball next is determined by the direction of the possession arrow. Therefore, an end-of-the-period shot is encouraged. Players and spectators enjoy seeing a last second shot attempt. It also avoids the offensive team from stalling at the end of a period.
  • Teams switch goals at halftime. This evens any advantage that may occur because of the court and is in compliance with NFHS rules.
  • No scores are kept in the K5 or 1st-2nd grade divisions. The focus for this age is to learn fundamentals, not winning and losing.
  • Any games ending in a tie should remain a tie. This will help keep games on schedule.
  • No division standings are maintained in any division. Such standings add unnecessary pressure and intensity.
  • In Upward Basketball, there will not be a playoff system, championship tournament or a division champion thus eliminating the need for standings.
  • Coaches are allowed to walk the sidelines and encourage their players without stepping in the playing area. K5 coaches, however, are allowed on the court with the players in order to instruct and encourage them at all times.
  • All coaches will adhere to the substitution system. The substitution system allows for equal playing time for all players.
  • When possible, referees will advise players of potential violations before the violation occurs. Through words of encouragement and warning, referees are often able to prevent a violation from occurring.