4-on-4 League – Rules / Coaching Guide


  • 4-on-4, man-to-man defense.
  • 12 Minute Quarters, running clock.
  • Score is optional for all quarters. Score must be reset at the end of each quarter. Remember, the focus is on the play, not the score.
  • If the end of the quarter is close, the clock can be stopped the last minute.
  • All shooting fouls are 1 shot for 2 points (And even those we want to shot quickly to keep the game moving).
  • Substitute as you wish, but do your best for relatively equal time and competitive balance (and do so quickly to keep the game moving!)
  • Ball out of bounds can be inbounded immediately once referee declares possession (no need to give it back to the referee first).
    • Be patient with baseline inbounds, but keep things moving.
  • Minimize physicality as best you can.
    • If play is too physical, we will impose a 3 foul limit for each player each quarter.
  • More than anything, keep play active and moving along.
  • In general, 28.5 ball for Grades 5-6. 29.5 ball for Grades 7-9, but if both teams agree on a certain ball, that is fine.
  • Pressing is allowed, but naturally limit pressing if one team is overly superior to the other.

Coaching Points

  • Don’t over-instruct! It’s the summer and most kids do not have nearly enough playground time. We want to balance the freedom of the playground with the structure of a team atmosphere. If you are going to lean in any direction, lean in the direction of letting the kids play. 
  • Play man-to-man defense. It’s essential to learn how to help, talk, work together and most kids need to develop a feel for it.
  • Even during quarters where you choose to keep score, do not emphasize it. We have no standings or championship and, most of all, we want kids to take risks and develop new skills! An emphasis on winning will not encourage this aim. You can do both.
  • Encourage your kids to try new skills, even if they miss. 
  • We encourage you to trap in the full or half court in order to learn rotations and increase possessions.
  • Match up kids against players of similar basketball ability.
  • Pay attention to teaching concepts that can be employed during specific quarters or games. Examples include, no switching on D, trap and rotate, ball screens, screen away, slip screens, etc. 
  • Have fun and help your players have fun!

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