NBA Coach challenge: How many challenges are allowed per game?

NBA Rulebook
NBA Rulebook

Table of Contents

What is the NBA Coach Challenge and how many challenges are allowed per game?

The coach’s challenge is a relatively new addition to the NBA’s rulebook, so the process can be confusing for basketball fans who haven’t seen it play out. Don’t worry — we have all you need to know about the challenge.

NBA Rulebook
NBA Rulebook

Ahead of the 2019-20 season, the NBA introduced the coach’s challenge on a one-year trial basis. The league then approved the coach’s challenge on a full-time basis before the 2020-21 campaign. The NBA has made some minor tweaks to the coach’s challenge in recent years, but the basics of the system have remained consistent.

So what are the rules of the challenge? Each team has one challenge available per game. The NBA doesn’t reward coaches for successful challenges unlike the NFL and MLB.

It’s one-and-done, regardless of the result. In order to initiate a challenge, a coach must call a timeout and then ask for a replay review prior to the start of a free throw attempt, change of possession or jump ball. During games, you may see the standard spinning motion with an index finger used as a signal from coaches to trigger a review as well as flashing lights at the scorer’s table.

What happens if the challenge made is a successful one?

If a challenge is successful, the team keeps its timeout.

NBA Rulebook
NBA Rulebook

However, if the call on the floor stands, that timeout is gone. A coach can challenge personal foul calls made against his team, out-of-bounds calls and goaltending/basket interference calls. A key point: coaches can’t challenge non-calls. That means a coach is only able to force a review of a foul called on the floor that he believes is not a foul.

A coach can’t challenge a call that was missed in order to change it to a foul. However, other reviewable issues can be covered as part of the challenge (foul called on correct player, continuation, out-of-bounds, etc.). The on-court crew chief makes the final decisions on foul call reviews. The replay center referee makes the final decisions on all other reviews.

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