Basic Overview

Upward Sports, the world’s largest Christian sports league for kids, has become the place to play fun sports for over half a million families in the United States and Canada. Last year, nearly 550,000 K5 through sixth-graders were involved in basketball, soccer, flag football and cheerleading in one of over 5,000 leagues and camps.
By providing a fun sports experience based on healthy competition, Upward Sports Leagues help kids develop skills for the sports arena and values for life. Upward Sports uses the universal language of sports to connect with kids at a critical age and help them discover and build athletic skills, values, self-confidence and a life-long love of the game.

At Upward Sports, families matter. Our leagues give families all the benefits of participating in team sports while protecting them from hectic travel schedules and the win-at-all costs mentality that burns out young athletes. With just a one-hour practice and one-hour game each week, our leagues conveniently fit into busy family schedules. Click here for more information about Upward Sports.

Grace’s Upward Sports Basketball League (General Information)

The Upward Sports Basketball league was started at Grace in 2004. It has been a wonderful addition to the community and continues to be a great tool for introducing kids to organized sports. But beyond that, it’s a powerful agent in strengthening the faith and character of kids and parents.

Players are divided according to ability to create teams as equal as possible. At a required evaluation, your child will participate in several drills to obtain an evaluation score. The purpose of this score is used to make teams as even as possible in order to keep the competition high.

The schedule is not demanding. There is a one-hour practice to be held during the week and one game on each Saturday during January and February. At the midpoint of each practice, coaches will share a short Bible story with the children. During practice, each child will have an opportunity to learn a scripture verse that corresponds with the principle or characteristic conveyed in the story. The scripture learning time is a group activity; therefore, children are not required to recite the verse individually at practice. Each child participating in the scripture learning time will receive a green star award.

Grace’s Upward Sports Cheerleading Opportunity

At Grace, we also provide an Upward Sports Cheerleading league, which runs simultaneously with the basketball league. To learn more about the Cheerleading program, children and parents registering should attend an orientation/evaluation night, usually the same time and location of evaluations for the basketball league.

For additional information about Grace’s Upward Sports Leagues or rules for each league, please email Matt Marsh at upward@gracelink.org.

Upward Sports Basketball Rules
Outside of these special rules, the National Federation of High School Associations Rule Book governs play.
  1. Man to man defense will be played at all times. Zone defenses are not allowed.
  2. Defensive players must stay within arm’s reach of the player that they are guarding. (Isolation plays will not be a part of Upward Basketball because they take away the opportunity for improvement for all players and contradict the spirit of the rules.)
  3. Double-teaming is not allowed. However, help defense is encouraged in the following instances:
    • In The Lane Area
      If a defender is in the lane, and the player being guarded is within an arm’s reach, the defender is allowed to provide help by double-teaming. The intent of this exception is not to encourage a defender to remain near the lane at all times (“soft zone”) and double-team the ball each time it enters the lane. The intent is to teach a player “already in the lane” to play help defense.
    • Off Picks And Screens
      Defensive switching is allowed on offensive picks and screens. At the appropriate time, players should return to guarding their assigned player.
    • During Fast Breaks
      When an offensive player has beaten their defender, another defensive player may help. Upon stopping the fast break, defenders should return to guarding their assigned player.
  4. At the beginning of each 6-minute segment, both coaches are to line up equally ranked players across from each other.
  5. Full court presses are not allowed. Defensive players cannot guard their opponents in the backcourt.
  6. Due to the shortness of the court, backcourt violations will not be called.
  7. The offense must purposefully attack the defense in every situation. After a warning from the referee, if the offense does not cross half court, a violation will be called, and the ball will be awarded to the opposing team.
  8. Referees will call and explain all violations and, depending on the age group, the penalty may result in a turnover. These explanations will vary according to the age group and understanding of the players and decrease as the season progresses.
  9. When possible, referees will verbally advise players of potential violations before the violation occurs.
  10. There will be no technical fouls or protest of games.
  11. No timeouts. [See rule #14]
  12. No score will be given for a basket in the wrong goal. It will be treated as a turnover.
  13. A player committing two fouls in one 6-minute segment must sit out the remainder of that segment. The next player in the rotation comes in as the substitute. This does not change the normal rotation because the fouled out player does not come back in the game until scheduled to do so. The player who comes in as a substitute gains extra playing time. This extra time does not affect the predetermined substitution. NOTE: In a second foul situation where a team only has five players at a game, replace the substitution rule with a two-point penalty by awarding the fouled team two additional points. NOTE: If an unfair match-up is created, work with the opposing coach to quickly re-assign kids to best match players of similar ability.
  14. ALL AGES: Non-shooting fouls result in the ball being taken out on the side by the offended team. Shooting fouls will result in the ball being taken out under the goal. No free throws for the younger ages.
  15. (4-6 Girls & 5-6 Boys Only): In the 3rd & 6th periods, the clock will stop with 3 minutes left in the period for a 1 minute pre-determined timeout. No substitutions during this timeout.
  16. (4-6 Girls & 5-6 Boys Only): In the last 1 minute of each half (3rd & 6th periods):

a. ALL FOULS will result in 2 free throws. The clock will stop until play resumes.

b. Players fouled in the act of shooting and making the basket, are credited with
the basket plus one free throw attempt. The clock will stop until play resumes.