Why Do Teams Switch Sides in Basketball?

This post may contain affiliate links, meaning we get a commission if you make a purchase through our links, at no cost to you.

Spread the love


The basketball court is well maintained in the NBA and other groups, but this does not apply to other leagues primarily because of budget constraints. Aside from a norm, switching baskets give teams a fair chance to experience both sides of the court and fans to get different perspectives of the teams.

This material we prepared gives insight into why do teams switch sides in basketball.

How Do Basketball Team Pick Their Starting Side of the CourtHow Do Basketball Team Pick Their Starting Side of the Court?

The team winning the coin toss in NFL football can choose whether to receive or kick, and the loser picks the end zone they will defend.

The same applies to other basketball leagues, and the teams do not select their starting side of the court. The officials call the team captains for a coin toss before warmups. The coin toss winner gets to choose the basket for their offensive plays in the first half. The teams in basketball switch sides in the second half.

If the game goes into overtime, another coin toss is held to determine which team can choose their basket in the extra period. 

While the starting side of the court may not be something the teams can choose, coaches may still strategically plan for how they will use the court based on which basket their team will be attacking first. For example, a coach may have a specific game plan for how their team will attack the basket closest to their bench, or they may want their team to shoot from a specific area of the court to take advantage of the environment or the defense of the other team.

In the NBA, there is no coin toss; the road team picks the side of the court they want to play for the first half. Typically, before the warmup and well before the TV broadcasting begins. You’ll see players make practice shots on their side of the court. The teams switch baskets in the second half.

Overtimes are considered an extension of the second half, and teams maintain their basket positions.

The Utah Jazz is an exception; they do it contrariwise. Two decades back, John Stockton wanted coach Jerry Sloan to call the shots while he brought the ball to their basket in the second half, which became a Jazz tradition.

The game’s outcome is determined in the second half, and teams prefer to have their basket in front of their bench for teammates to shout at shooters or yell out defense tips.

Why Do Teams Switch Sides in BasketballWhy Do Teams Switch Sides in Basketball?

Back then, basketball courts were poorly maintained. Wooden floors were out of shape, creating dead spots limiting a player’s movement. Deformed backboards and bent hoops affect the bounce of the ball. Lighting systems were uneven, with one side of the court better than the other. 

Teams switch sides of the court at halftime as a way to equalize any potential advantages that may exist due to conditions. By switching sides, both teams will have played half of the game under the same conditions, ensuring fair play.

In modern play, these adverse settings rarely happen. When Shaquille O’Neil throws down a ball, he hangs on the rim, and his heft brings down the backboard when he lands. This made the crowd go wild twice during his NBA career with the Orlando Magic.

Leave the repair works to the maintenance crew; with a spare backboard in tow, a ladder, and replacement materials, they’ll have the backboard good as new in a jiff, ready to be broken again.

In addition, switching baskets can also have psychological benefits for the players. A catch-up team can have a fresh start in the second half, allowing them to reset and refocus on the game. It can also break up any routines or habits players may have developed in the first half, forcing them to adjust to a new environment and potentially changing the game’s dynamics.

Fans may be positioned at the switched basketball side, egging their team to play hard and creating noise whenever the other team attempts. You often see unruly fans at the end of the sideline facing the foul line, screaming at the top of their lungs and waving paraphernalia to distract the shooter.

Finally, switching sides of the court during halftime is an NBA rule followed by other leagues. It is one of the many rules and customs established over the years to create a fair and enjoyable game for players and spectators.

When Does Switching Sides Happen in BasketballWhen Does Switching Sides Happen in Basketball?

In basketball, switching sides typically occurs at halftime. At the end of the first half, the teams will switch sides of the court to defend the opposite basket for the second half of the game.

This is done to ensure that each team has an equal opportunity to play on both sides of the court, as the conditions can vary depending on the location of the baskets and the surrounding environment. For example, the lighting or background on one end of the court may be different from the other, and switching sides helps ensure that each team has a fair chance to adapt to these conditions.

Switching sides at halftime also allows coaches to adjust their game plan based on how the game has gone. They may use the time during halftime to review game plays, make strategic changes, and discuss any necessary adjustments with their players.

How Switching Sides Affect the GameHow Switching Sides Affect the Game

Switching sides of the court in a basketball game can have several effects on the game, both for individual players and the team as a whole. Some of how switching sides can affect a basketball game include:

Changes in Shooting Condition

The visibility on one side of the court may differ depending on the court’s lighting condition and time of day.

Depending on which side of the court a player is on, the lighting, depth perception, and views of the court can change, affecting a team’s ability to score. A player’s shooting accuracy may be impacted by a shift in shooting conditions caused by switching sides of the court.

Crowd Noise

You can see fans sitting near the bench of their favored team, cheering them on. The energy and noise of the crowd may differ on one side from the other, which may affect the players’ momentum and morale. The cheers of the crowd inspire tired players to continue playing their best.

Tactical Adjustments

Changing sides allows a coach to evaluate his offensive and defensive game strategy depending on how his team and the opponent play, game plans may be improvised.

If a team is down, a man-to-man defense will pressure the other team to commit turnovers, or they may need to adjust to playing zone defense if the offensive team continuously scores on drives to the basket.

Or pick-and-roll roll or isolation plays can be designed to provide scoring opportunities on the offensive end.

Player Matchups

Switching sides of the court can result in different player matchups, leading to changes in defensive assignments and player rotations.

Steph Curry will have a heyday scoring treys against a short and slow defensive man. More points from the paint from Anthony Davis if the defender can’t keep pace with Davis’ movements.

Physical fatigue

Running up and down the court can be tiring and impact players’ physical fatigue. Changing baskets provides a halftime break, and players can catch their breath and rest a bit to be ready for the critical grind.

The halftime break in the NBA and NCAA lasts 15 minutes.

Changes Momentum

If a team is trailing at halftime and switches to the other side of the court, the change in scenery can sometimes be a game-changer that helps shift the team’s momentum and lead to a comeback.

Aside from a basketball norm, switching sides of the court in a basketball game can have a range of effects on the game, from changes in court conditions and crowd noise to tactical adjustments made by the players and coaches.

Wrapping Things Up: Why Do Teams Switch Sides in Basketball?

After the referee blows the whistle signaling the end of hostilities in the first half, a basketball halftime break follows. 

The halftime is a welcome respite for players to gather their breath and wits. It’s also the time for coaches to adjust their game plans. After the break, the teams change baskets.

Although the same condition applies to both sides of the court, switching sides demonstrates fairness in basketball.

We hope you enjoyed this post! If you did, be sure to check out our other basketball FAQ articles here.

Picture of Hoops Addict
Hoops Addict

Hoops Addict was created to help basketball fans of all ages learn more about the sport and find the best basketball gear to improve their ability to hoop. He has been a huge basketball fan for decades, watching thousands of basketball games through the years to learn the ins and outs of the game.

If you found this helpful, help us out by sharing this post!


Readers of this post also read...

How is the NBA All-Star Team Selected

How is the NBA All-Star Team Selected?

Getting into the All-Star game is no simple feat. For some players, it may take several seasons of high-level play to get the nod. However, other exceptional talents come into the league with so much...

Read More
How Do Basketball Teams Qualify for the Olympics?

How Do Basketball Teams Qualify for the Olympics?

The Summer Olympics is the biggest stage in international basketball. These games have an unbridled cultural impact on a global scale. It brings the world together to appreciate a couple of weeks of high-level international...

Read More
What Does DTD Mean in Basketball?

What Does DTD Mean in Basketball?

Basketball is a world of its own with unique terms or jargon, in and out of the court. Through the years, more terms have been developed to represent specific things about the sport, and understanding...

Read More

Get our top basketball tips to become a better baller

Enter your email to get access to our best tips for success.