Mandatory Play Rules


     Participation is a primary objective of the EPWBA. We promise each participant a certain amount of playing time each game.  No player sits on the bench for most of a game.  To achieve this goal, we limit roster size to 8 or 9 players [10 players in the Novice League], and enforce rules regarding playing time.  The specific rules differ somewhat among the six leagues.


Game Structure

  • In the Novice, Prep, Middle and Junior (boys) Leagues, a basketball game is played in four 6-minute quarters, and we treat each quarter as composed of two 3-minute segments.  Thus, there are eight 3-minute segments per game.  
  • In the Junior Girls League, a game is played in four 8-minute quarters [timed by a “running clock,” i.e., a clock which stops only during free throws and time-outs].  We treat each quarter as composed of two 4-minute segments, thus eight 4-minute segments per game.
  • In the Senior League, a game is played in two 18-minute halves, timed by a running clock for the first 16 minutes of each half and a “regular clock” [stops on all whistles] for the last 2 minutes of each half.


Mandatory Play Rules for Each League


Novice League

   In the Novice League for 8-9 year-olds, playing time must be apportioned “equally,” by full 3-minute segments. When a team has all 10 members present, each member must play four full 3-minute segments, in which case each player would play half of the game.  If 8 team members are present, “equal playing time” would require that each team member play five full 3-minute periods.  With 6, 7, or 9 players available, exactly equal playing time would be difficult to manage. In these situations, coaches are expected to make a good faith effort to equalize playing time as much as practicable. There should never be a difference of two segments between the numbers of segments played by any two players. For instance, no team member should play 7 segments if any other member plays only 5 or fewer segments.


  Players may sometimes play fewer than the normally required number of minutes in case of injury or other health considerations, or if removed from the game for excessive fouling.  Players who arrive late for a game, would have their required playing time reduced accordingly.  For instance, a player arriving at the end of the first quarter would have “sacrificed” one of the segments of playing time to which he/she was otherwise entitled. With 10 players present, the latecomer would be entitled to [though not restricted to] only 3 segments of play rather than the usual 4 segments.


Prep, Middle, Junior Girls, and Junior Leagues


Minimum Play Rule

  Each team member must play at least three full segments of the eight time segments that compose a game, with at least one segment of play in each half.


Maximum Play Rule

  In the Prep and Middle Leagues each team member must be out of the game for one full 3-minute segment.  That is, players may play as many as 7 segments but must sit out one full segment in the Prep and Middle Leagues. There is no maximum play rule in the Junior Girls and Junior Leagues.


Full Segments

  To play (or sit out) a full segment, a player must be in the game (or on the bench) for the entire 3-minute segment.  Coaches are allowed to substitute within segments, but neither player involved in a substitution (the one going in or the one coming out) is credited with either playing or sitting out a full segment.


Special Circumstances

  There may be certain situations in which a minimum or maximum play requirement cannot be met. 

  • If a team has only 5 players available for a game, the team is not required to sit players out, and play with four on the court, to meet the maximum play requirement.  The maximum play rule is waived in this circumstance.  Likewise, if a team is reduced to 5 players at some point, for instance through injury or a player fouling out, before every team member has sat out a segment, it is not necessary to sit additional players and play with only four during any subsequent segment.
  • If a player has a health issue, such as an asthmatic condition, that may impair his ability to play a full segment, the minimum play requirement could be waived for that player.
  • For players arriving substantially late for a game, the full minimum play requirement would not apply. Rather, the late arrival would be entitled only to the amount of playing time that he/she might receive had he/she been present and played during the time actually missed.  It would not be required, for instance, that a team member arriving at half-time play 3 of the 4 segments in the second half.  Insofar as that player could have played 2 segments in the first half if present, the player would be entitled to play one segment in the second half.


Senior League

Coaches in the Senior League have more flexibility in meeting minimum play requirements than coaches in the other leagues, but adequate playing time is still required.  As noted above, Senior League games are played in two 18-minute halves. The precise “3 segments out of 8” structure of the minimum play rule applied in the other leagues translates into a requirement that each member of a Senior League team play at least 3/8 of the game.  Mathematically, that would mean playing 13.5 minutes out of 36. Coaches enjoy more flexibility as to how those minutes are accorded. They can substitute freely rather than by defined segments, as long as each player receives the minimum number of minutes to which he is entitled. It is also required that playing time be provided in each half. As in the Junior and Junior Girls Leagues, there is no maximum play rule in the Senior League.

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