The jump ball has been a part of every basketball game since the creation of the sport -- Dr. James Naismith invented the game in 1891 at Springfield College in Massachusetts. Over time some of the jump ball rules have changed; however, the one that still remains in place is when and where the game-starting jump occurs.
When, Where and Who
Other than at the start of the game, a jump ball also starts each overtime period and is taken in the center circle, according to NBA rules. Two opposing players stand inside the circle, and each one faces the basket where his team will attempt to score.
Jumpers must have both feet inside the circle and are not allowed to touch or tap the ball until it has reached its peak. The ball is automatically awarded to the opposing team if a player taps the ball twice, leaves his half of the circle before the ball has been tapped or taps the ball to himself. If neither player taps the ball and it falls to the floor, the jump is repeated.
In the NBA, other situations can also lead to a jump ball. When situations such as a double foul during a loose ball, a ball that gets lodged between the rim and the backboard or when the ball goes out of bounds and the official is not sure which player touched the ball last, a jump ball occurs.
Alternate Possession Arrow
The NCAA uses a possession arrow instead of a jump ball to determine which team gains possession after a violation or a possession situation. Teams alternate possession depending on which direction the arrow points.