Guide – NCAA Basketball Practice Rules


Several students opt for a basketball game in their college.  It’s the best time for anybody to learn basketball basics. And if you already love and have experience playing basketball, you should follow a few rules. Part of the preparation includes the following college’s rules for the game they love. 

The National Collegiate Athletic Association has certain rules that players must follow. It protects players from injuries, so they have time to meet their academic qualifications. It also helps make for a level playing field between other colleges.

In this article, we will be discussing the practice rules for the NCAA basketball games. You can find these rules on pages 10-11 of the NCAA Handbook. Other rules apply to all sports, but these are specific to basketball. 

So what are the NCAA rules on practice hours…


How Many Hours A Week Are NCAA Athletes Allowed To Practice

  • Description of the NCAA 20 hour rule and hours per week

Some College Athletes start practicing more than 40 hours per week, leaving the academic side.  As per the recent lawsuit against the organization handling the sports, NCAA and the University of North Carolina Chapel Hills. Many student-athletes are not maintaining a minimum GPA, a mandatory factor in the NCAA eligibility list. 

After going through the complete reports, the NCAA restricted the practice time to 20 hours per week and a minimum of four hours per day. Some athletes requested to keep to 30 hours per week, but the NCAA confined them to 20 hours per week.

Some athletes feel that practicing during college days is time-consuming. Athletes should learn how to manage their time while competing in the tournament. For NCAA Division I member institutions, the student athlete’s participation activities were limited. Limit a maximum of four hours per day and 20 hours per week since 1991. This rule was adopted by NCAA Division I Bylaw 2.14 to provide quality education. 

The NCAA defined some athletic activities as countable and uncountable activities. Countable activities are scheduled practices, film sessions, and competition days. In contrast, the uncountable activities are the compliance meetings, service events, promotional activities, building the team, and activities related to media and service events.

The NCAA suggests coaches give at least one day off per week (if athletes are willing to practice, they can do it voluntarily).  The NCAA will review the plan annually, employed by the coach.

  •  Does it depend on what Division the college is in?

Throughout the United States, there are numerous athletic associations. Some are religiously related, while others are national or regional. Each association has member colleges divided into conferences. Some are members of multiple associations. Conferences bring together schools from the same geographical area. When it comes to the national championship, you can pit teams from various conferences against one another.

The NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) is responsible for intercollegiate athletic competitions. Simply, the events displayed on ESPN are organized and handled by NCCA. It oversees the colleges under Division I, Division II, and Division III, and the respective colleges should follow the rules.

Divisions and conferences are divided by the NCAA and the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA). The university’s size, the level of competition, and the athletic program’s finances are used to create divisions. Division I institutions, for example, can provide players full athletic scholarships, whereas Division III schools are not. The NCAA is the largest athletic association, with over 1,100 schools and 100 conferences (more than any other athletic association).

Division-I – Nearly 350 institutions come under Division- 1, and the institutions under Division- 1  are well funded. So they can offer scholarships to the recruited athletes. These colleges may get funding from various contracts, partners, or through the games that are displayed on the television. But for a student to get selected under this division should meet a certain level of achievements in academics and sports. Sports offered in this division differ for men and women.

Division-II– The NCAA Division II includes about 120,000 students and almost 300 institutions. Division II institutions play the same sports as they are Division I schools. Their athletes are generally physically capable of competing in Division I sports, but their institutions lack the financial resources to support their athletic programs.  The student-athletes are very capable, along with the athletic scholarship; they will receive athletic and merit-based scholarships.

Division-III – The NCAA Division III has 450 schools and around 190,000 students each year. It is the largest division of NCAA-recognized sports, and it includes many of the same sports as the other two divisions. Division III student-athletes are primarily concerned with their studies, with sports as a bonus. Many kids engage in extracurricular activities in addition to athletics or take time away from their teams to study overseas. 

The level of competition among Division III teams remains high, but seasons are shorter, and games are played regionally rather than nationally to allow for more class time. While other students may know them as members of a sports team, Division III student-athletes treat regular students rather than famous athletes. Division III institutions do not offer athletic scholarships because their main concentration is academics. Many students in this division are eligible for financial aid or merit-based incentives.


How Many Days In A Row Can You Practice In The NCAA…

  • Description of how many days
    The NCAA defined rules and regulations regarding how many hours an athlete can actively participate in the practice. It is known as Countable Athletically Related Activity (CARA). The coaches will track these student activities every week and report to Compliance Authority Officers. The number of days the student can participate will vary from the championship season, non-championship season, and out of season.

Championship Season: Practice hours allotted for an athlete are limited to 20 hours per week. Students are allowed to practice games, strength, and conditioning. The maximum allotted time per day is 4 hours. In a week, one day is allotted as a week off. Student-athletes cannot miss the practice class.

Non-Championship Season: The time allotted by CARA for student-athletes is limited to 20 hours per week; during this period, students can do practice, play games, and check their strength conditions. One day in a week is allotted as an off day. 

Out of Season: This practice is not for participating in championships. The allowed time for practice is 8 hours per week. This time is allotted for weight training, individual workouts, and team other activities. Only 2 hours of the 8 hours are allotted for workouts and team activities. Two days in a week are allotted for a week off.

Generally stating, the Non-Championship Season and out of seasons are restricted to 24 days. Finally, the championship season will conclude with the NCAA championships.

  •  Can the NCAA practice on Sundays

The NCAA passed a rule stating that the coaches should give one day a week off. If the athletes are interested in the practice, they can still work out voluntarily. It depends on the athlete’s interest.

  • Can a travel day be an off day for NCAA purposes?

Yes, the NCAA considers the travel days as off days for non-autonomy schools if mandatory countable activities do not take place on that day. 

When Do College Basketball Teams Start Practicing…

  •  Description of when practicing starts 

The First NCAA college basketball season will commence in “November Month” and ends somewhere in March. 

To participate in this tournament, the player should meet some standards defined by the NCAA. 

The practice starts in October; months, schools or colleges are allotted 42 days for 30 sessions. At that time, the athlete can practice 20 hours per week with at least one day off. The NCAA will also authorize a transition phase from September to October month. The allotted time would be 12 hours per week, with 8 hours limit on strength training, teaching basketball skills, and conferences related to basketball. 

  •  Do college basketball teams practice year-round

Yes, they do practice the whole year. They should be fit and ready to participate in the NCAA tournaments. So the players should do rigorous practices, workouts, weights, pickups, and conditioning all around the year to maintain their fitness. 

  • How often do college basketball teams practice

College basketball freshman athletes ages are between 18 to 22 years. The maturity levels of these athletes will vary physically and psychologically as they are from the high school team. At the freshman stage, the athletes should concentrate more on their eating habits, sleeping habits, conditioning, and initiating the workouts.

In the Competitive Season:  The college basketball team will practice throughout the year. The game’s structure involves two twenty-minute halves, with halftime of 15 minutes. Depending on the college division (Division-1, Division-2, Division-3), the colleges will play around 25 to 35 games per competitive season. However, as per the NCAA norms, they will practice 20 hours per week. Most athletes practice 4 to 6 days per week based on the game schedule. The practices may reach up to 3 hours of high-intensity workouts; during the practice hours, athletes should attend film, training, and injury sessions. 

Time management plays a vital role in the practice session during the competitive season. The Division-1 athletes will travel in chartered flights after the completion of the game, while the other division athletes spend using the bus and spend more time traveling on the road. Practice is also based on the food and nutrition that the athlete eats. For Division-I, a sports dietician will design the diet, and the food is given accordingly. For other divisions and mid-universities, athletes will get a training table. 

In the Off-Season: The majority of the basketball players utilize this time to improve their game. All players will have a small time gap after completing the tournament. This period is called one-sport athletes. After completing the competitive season, the players will get 2 to 4 weeks to recharge themselves with the family members and school matters. Later they will start their workouts.

The basketball commitments will vary based on the coaching demands during the off-season. Simply, the athletes can practice up to 8 hours of activity per week. 


When Can College Coaches Talk To Basketball Recruits…


Description of when college coaches can talk to basketball recruits 

NCAA rules are designed with certain guidelines, when and how athletes contact the college coaches and how the college coaches can have contact with recruits. 

According to the NCAA incorporated rule, college coaches are restricted from frequently calling the recruits after the beginning of the junior year. But before the beginning of the junior year, they can regularly contact the recruits although at this early stage it would be more like contact with athletes.

As per the NCAA rule, the coach will start reaching the athletes after the sophomore year. Depending on the athlete’s sports, division, age, and communication type, the coach will show interest. 

Athlete coaches can call or email the basketball recruits by providing their contact information. If the recruit responds or shows interest in your college team, they will contact you and schedule a meeting for further discussions. Meanwhile, the coaches will also start searching for suitable athletes for their program structure and investigate the student-athlete background in the name of campus visits. 

The detailed process with new rules is defined below.

Coaches can recruit the athletes during camp visits, but the coach will not offer any scholarship till the completion of the sophomore year of high school. Coaches can contact or reach the athletes in the below-mentioned ways.

  1. Official visits 
  2. Camp visits
  3. Clinic visits
  4. Sports impacted
  5. Unofficial visits

When can college athletes reach Division I Coaches?

Seriously speaking, the coaches will contact the athletes with the non-recruiting materials.


The Recruitment Period

  • Description of what a recruitment period is


The NCAA designed a recruiting calendar for a better understanding of the recruitment schedule.

  1. Evaluation period
  2. Contact period
  3. Dead period
  4. Quiet period

Evaluation Period: In this period, the coaches will allow the person to visit and watch the athlete’s game skills. The concerned person is not allowed to meet the person or the person’s guardian. They will just sit and watch the athlete from the gallery. This period will allow the coach and recruiter to understand the student’s behavior better.  If the recruiter shows interest in you, they will contact you through phone or email. 

This period is set only for evaluating the respective candidates. This period is very specific, and only a few sports like Football, Basketball, Volleyball, and Softball will have this evaluation period. Sports 

Contract Period: As the name indicates, it enables frequent contact between the coaches and athletes. This can be done through any of the NCAA-approved methods. Coaches can reach athletes and their parents through email, call, text, or direct contact either in the tournaments, house or on college campus. This period will provide an advantage of speaking with the coaches without any restrictions.

Meeting the person outside of the campus will let them know the athlete’s personality. So the coaches can decide in a better way before recruiting the athlete. In-person meetings are good for the athlete to know in detail about the coach. During this contact period, the coaches will discuss with the athlete in detail to know about his mental ability, strength, weakness, and his self-confidence. So at the moment, it is better if the parents won’t get involved in the conversation. During this contact period, the recruiter will also evaluate the athlete’s parents to know about the parent’s influence on the student.

Dead Period: In this period, all communications will be dead. It means the recruiters will not be in direct contact with either the recruits or their parents. Digital communication between the students and coaches will occur through email, text, call, and WhatsApp. No conversation will happen either at the college campus, athlete campus, or outside of the campus. 

Quiet Period: In this period, the coach will not have any contact with the recruits; they will not visit the student campus to watch their games. But the athletes can meet the coach on the coach campus. However, the coach cannot speak with the athletes outside the college campus.

The main intention of this period is to avoid contact with the college coaches and elite recruits. It is a contact period for average players to contact the coaches through email, text, and call. It is the specific recruiting period for Division I and Division II college sports. 

Recruits should be aware of the different recruiting periods to have a realistic idea of the NCAA’s recruiting opportunities.


  • Description of when the recruiting period begins

A high school athlete should be aware of the complete information regarding the athletic department recruitment process. The steps involved in the recruitment process are mentioned below.

  1. Maintain direct contact with the coaches – The recruitment process will begin when the coach and recruit start their first conversation.
  2. Visit the Campus – The athletes will have an opportunity of visiting the different and multiple college campuses and have a conversation with the coaches and college administration to get their doubts cleared. The students can visit the campus either officially or unofficially. The athlete college will cover the complete maintenance charges if it is official.
  3. Visits of the coach to athlete campus – Coaches will visit the campus to find suitable athletes for their program.
  4. Check for scholarships – During the recruitment, try to check for a scholarship; you will get this information at the end of the recruitment process. Based on the sports, the scholarship will vary.
  5. Signing the Intent Letter – Your recruitment process is done once you sign this intent letter. After that, no other coach will recruit you. If any coach tries to contact you, remember to inform them that you have signed the intent letter.


  • Can College Athletes Play Other Sports During Their Recruitment Period

Yes, they can play other sports during their recruitment period.


Participation in Weight Training

  • Description of weight training and what is allowed

It is necessary to focus on fitness development during the training period, so several weight training programs are implemented in almost all sports. 

Athletes are aware of the information that basketball requires a lot of running, but in the training programs, the main focus will be on the weight. So an athlete should get trained in cardio in the preseason itself. Aerobic and Anaerobic fitness are both required for a basketball athlete. 

  • What kind of equipment can college athletes use during practice

The equipment that a college athlete can use during the practice is reverse crunch, Romanian deadlift, dumbbell biceps, dumbbell triceps extension, squat, barbell bench press, and medicine ball standing twist with a partner.


Helpful Related Links


This article mentions brief information about the NCAA basketball Practice rules. It mentions the number of hours they allowed for the athlete to practice, types of divisions, number of days you can practice, and number of days off in a week. 

Also, will the traveling be considered a week off, the duration of college basketball teams practicing, and contacts with the basketball coaches, and recruits, and how? You’ll also know the recruitment period and process, weight training, and what kind of equipment is allowed during practice.

If you require any further information, you can follow the links mentioned in the related links section.

If you are looking to join as a junior athlete in basketball, this can help you.

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