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Specialty Rules

Updated September 10, 2016


  1. State high school athletic association (i.e. PIAA in Pennsylvania / OHSAA in Ohio) rules are in effect unless otherwise addressed. If there is a conflict between the state high school athletic association and CLAY, CLAY is the governing authority unless it constitutes a safety issue.
  2. If a team is not ready to start the game within ten (10) minutes of the scheduled starting time, the team forfeits the league game. A team is not considered ready unless it has a minimum of five (5) players and an adult coach on the bench with the team, who meets the requirements set forth in Section D below.
  3. All players in uniform must play unless they are injured or ill. Injured or ill players in uniform must be reported to the scorekeeper and opposing coach prior to the game, and cannot enter the game later during play. Coaches may request parents provide clearance by a doctor or other medical professional before allowing participation.
  4. Each team is permitted five (5) time-outs during regular play, and two (2) time-outs per overtime period. Time-outs are thirty (30) seconds in length. There is no carry-over of time-outs from regular play to overtime, nor from one overtime period to another.
  5. It is recommended players do not wear game shoes outside. If they are, they must be completely dry before stepping onto the court. Coaches and others involved with the teams and the games must also make sure their shoes are completely dry before stepping onto the court.
  6. FUNdamental Division Specialty Rules (Grades 1-2)
    • Older players approved by the hosting facility or adult volunteers serve as referees (appropriate forms must be completed).
    • Violations (except fouls) do not result in a turnover unless the violation is extreme or intentional.  
    • Fouls result in a turnover; however, foul shots are not awarded at the FUNdamental division level as the time to line up players could take more time than game scheduling permits. 
    • Players committing intentional fouls or participating in rough play should be removed from the game and counseled to help them become better players.
    • One coach is permitted to travel the length of the court to assist players.
    • Coaches are not permitted on court except during time outs.
    • Portable, variable height hoops will be used and lowered to an appropriate height.
    • Court size may be reduced by moving the hoops closer together.
    • If the court size is reduced, out-of-bounds lines must be clearly defined before the game starts.
    • The five-second closely guarded rule is in effect at the discretion of the referees - it may make more sense to "clear the crowd" so the player can try to dribble, pass or shoot.
    • Defense cannot steal the ball when it is being dribbled - "no steal".
    • Defense cannot play the ball when it is in the back court - "no press".
    • Actual scores are recorded and reported to CLAY so teams can be matched for the FUN Division Finale in the event there are enough teams to split them into separate groups. Scores are NOT posted on the clock - unless the scorekeepers can make it fun by awarding "style points" for great effort and having fun, in addition to baskets made (and it's OK to award lots of points for each basket - the intent is to have so much fun with the score that it takes away from who this age, it's more important to have fun and learn team play). 
  7. Developmental Division Specialty Rules (Grades 3-4)
    • Participants of a CLAY-approved local young adult ministry shall serve as referees.
    • Players may move up to the "hash" line in front of the foul line for their second foul shot if they miss their first foul shot.
    • The five-second closely guarded rule is in effect at the discretion of the referees - it may make more sense to "clear the crowd" so the player can try to dribble, pass or shoot.
    • Defense cannot steal the ball when it is being dribbled - "no steal".
    • Defense cannot play the ball when it is in the back court - "no press".
    • During the first month of regular season play, referees may choose not to turn over the ball when infractions appear to be from a lack of understanding of the rules. The clock shall continue to run during rules explanations unless the referee calls an official time-out.
  8. Competition Division Specialty Rules (Grades 5-6)
    • Defense cannot play the ball when it is in the back court - "no press".
    • Defense IS PERMITTED to steal the ball, including when it is being dribbled.
  9. Junior High / Senior High Specialty Rules (Grades 7-12)
    • There are no restrictions on play for these divisions. State high school athletic association rules apply unless there is a conflict with CLAY Specialty Rules as stated above and below.
  10. Injury Time Out Rule: In the event a player on defense is visibly injured, the defensive coach may call for an injury time-out that will not count against the team’s time-out usage. Facility representatives are also given the authority to call an injury time-out if a player is visibly injured. This rule recognizes the fact team sponsors do not normally have a team medic, and does not take any authority away from game officials. Instead, this additional safety measure ensures injured players can be tended to by the player’s coach without jeopardizing the safety of other players


  1. Each quarter will be seven minutes in length with a running clock, with the following exceptions:
    • The clock will stop during time-outs; referees will signal the stopping and starting of the clock.
    • The clock will start and stop per state high school athletic association rules (i.e. PIAA in Pennsylvania / OHSAA in Ohio) for the last thirty (30) seconds of the first three (3) quarters, and the last two (2) minutes of the fourth quarter.
    • Time outs are thirty (30) seconds in length; the horn will sound at fifteen (15) seconds and at the end of the time out.
    • Referees, facility administrators and CLAY Team Sports Ministry officials may stop the clock for injuries and to control the behavior of teams, coaches and fans. Facility administrators and CLAY Team Sports Ministry officials must signal the referees who will indicate to the scorekeeper to stop the clock. The clock will not restart until signaled by the referees.
  2. Each overtime period will be two (2) minutes in length, with the clock starting and stopping per state high school athletic association (i.e. PIAA in Pennsylvania) rules.
  3. There is no "mercy" scorekeeping. All points earned must be displayed.


  1. Players must be in school (first though twelfth grade). Further, players must be at least six (6) years of age by November 1, 2017 and cannot turn eighteen (18) before April 1, 2017.
  2. High school varsity athletes may not play in CLAY, even if they are not in season.
  3. Each sponsoring church is required to have its own eligibility rule regarding religious participation. Eligibility rules should include components of attendance (such as attending church, Sunday school and/or youth group; participating in sponsored activities such as retreats, Vacation Bible School, etc.) and service (to the church and/or the community). The purpose is not to "make kids show up" or bar them from games if they don't follow the rule, but to use it as the bridge from sport to ministry within your church. It is up to the sponsoring church to enforce its rule and to grant exceptions, as it deems appropriate.
  4. Players may not play on more than one team.


  1. Coaches must be a minimum of eighteen (18) years old, and be at least five (5) years older than the oldest player on the team. Each coach must also submit to a background check. 
  2. Coaches must be a member of a church that is participating in CLAY Team Sports Ministry. Church participation is defined as sponsoring one or more teams or hosting one or more games.
  3. Coaches must be present with their team before, during and after the scheduled game. If the coach is going to be absent, a responsible adult meeting the requirements set forth above must replace him or her before the game can commence.
  4. Coaches are responsible for the actions of the team at all times. Coaches are expected to address poor player conduct before, during and after the game. This includes, but is not limited to, taunting and "trash-talking".
  5. Coaches are expected to enforce the following rules for themselves and their players
    • No smoking in or on the grounds of any facility, regardless of any designated smoking areas. 
    • No loitering or roaming of the facility or its grounds.
  6. Coaches' behavior reflects directly upon the coach, team, sponsor and CLAY. DO NOT HARASS PLAYERS, SCOREKEEPERS, FACILITY REPRESENTATIVES OR FANS. Facility administrators and CLAY Team Sports Ministry officials may request the removal of coaches who cannot control their own behavior.
  7. Coaches are encouraged to play lesser skilled players and discourage "running up the score" if playing a significantly weaker team. This should not affect the outcome of the game, however.
  8. Coaches are expected to ensure their players know all rules that pertain to the league and the division in which they are participating.
  9. Coaches must meet any additional eligibility rules imposed by the sponsoring church for which they coach.


  1. Those providing facilities for game day play are responsible for maintaining the safety and security of game day activities. This includes, but is not limited to, proper maintenance and upkeep of the facility and grounds. An adult representative of the facility, who has the authority to act on behalf of the facility, must be present for all CLAY games.
  2. Facility providers must submit a certificate of insurance to CLAY prior to the start of the season.
  3. Facility providers shall supply scorekeeper(s); scorekeepers must complete a Youth Participation Form or Adult Volunteer Form. Scorekeepers must use CLAY score sheets for games and daily recaps, and submit scores online by the Monday following game day. Failure to do so could result in skewed post-season match-ups.
  4. Facility providers will supply game day balls (one "boy" 29.5" ball and one "girls" 28.5" ball; facilities hosting "Fun" division games will also provide a "youth" ball – 27.5"), but are not responsible for providing practice balls for visiting teams.
  5. Facilities are encouraged to provide concessions.


Also see CLAY's online Officials Certification

  1. Referees must be approved by CLAY Team Sports Ministry through its online certification process. Referees are also encouraged to be approved by their state high school athletic association (i.e. PIAA in Pennsylvania / OHSAA in Ohio).
  2. Referees are expected to know and uphold all state high school athletic association (i.e. PIAA in Pennsylvania) and CLAY rules, and conduct themselves in a manner appropriate to the position.
  3. Referees are expected to honor the opening prayer by participating in the pre-game “circle up” with players and coaches.
  4. There shall be at least two (2) referees per game. Three (3) referees are permitted for Junior High and Senior High games.
  5. CLAY Team Sports Ministry has the right to ban referees from further games for unbecoming conduct, and to request the removal of referees during games for serious issues or safety concerns. All referee issues are to be directed to CLAY Team Sports Ministry, who will address the issue. If a referee is removed from a game, the game will be suspended until a replacement referee, approved by CLAY Team Sports Ministry, is retained. Any official removed from a game will be subject to susension from further CLAY games.