Using a pencil and paper basketball scorebook is a great way to track statistics and scores for your basketball league or team. After the game, you’ll have an easy way to check each player’s points, rebounds, assists, fouls, and more, and you’ll be able to compare each player’s performance with their teammates, as well as look at your team’s statistics as a whole.

Here’s a detailed guide on how to use a basketball scorebook.

The Basics

What is a basketball scorebook? Simply put, it’s a booklet made of papers with pre-printed templates. The pre-printed templates are designed to make it easy to record a player and team’s points, rebounds, assists, etc. during the course of a game. Whoever is in charge of watching the game and filling in the statistics will often re-type those statistics into a website (like or a spreadsheet to share with their teammates or league followers.

If you want to use a paper and pencil scorebook for your league, you’ll need to purchase one scorebook for each concurrent game that your league plays. That means if your league plays two games at the same time on different courts, you’ll need to purchase one scorebook for each court. You can purchase scorebooks online or in person at sporting goods stores, or you can use an online, digital basketball scorebook.

You must remember to always bring your scorebooks to every game. There’s nothing worse than players coming to you after the game and finding out that you weren’t able to track their scoring, rebounding, or assist numbers after their big performance.

Who’ll be tracking statistics?

One of the first things you’ll want to figure out is who will be serving as a statistician for your league. Will you have league staff working the scorebook? Do you want to have the person manning the scoreboard to also record statistics? Or maybe you don’t have enough personnel for that – maybe you’ll want to ask players who aren’t currently playing to record statistics?

No matter who you ask to track statistics, anyone who touches the scorebook has to know how you want statistics to be tracked. You’ll want to teach them which statistics you want to track, and how to track them (outlined below), as well as the general rules of how you want your statistics recorded.

What statistics will you track?

As the commissioner or manager of a basketball league, you’ll need to decide which statistics you want to track. Will you only note down when a player scores? Will you track the most common statistics, like rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks? Or will you go even further in-depth, and track the more complex statistics, like turnovers, field goal percentage, and free throw percentage? Whatever you decide, you’ll need everyone who acts as a statistics tracker for your league to be on the same page.

You’ll also need to decide on a sort of ‘legend’ or ‘key’ for how you want statistics to be recorded. This is explained in detail further below, but you’ll want to track that a player scored a 3 pointer in the same manner for each game (eg. by writing a “3” down in that player’s entry box).

Before each game

There’s a short series of tasks that you’ll need to complete before each and every game before your ready to use your scorebook.

First, you’ll want to write down the name of each team playing in the game you’ll be scoring, in the appropriate Home or Away side of the scorebook. Then, write down the names and numbers of each player, either alphabetically by last name, or by the number on their jersey. If a player is on the roster, but isn’t playing in the game, write their name down as well somewhere on your score sheet. This includes both players who are present but don’t play because they don’t have a chance to substitute in, and those players that miss the game entirely. Remember to put the players on the side of the scoresheet with the appropriate team.

How do you use it?

Most scorebooks follow the same concept. There’s an empty box next to the player’s name, where you can write down each action the player did for that game. An action would be something like “free throw made”, “3 pointer made”, “assist”, or “rebound”. Each time the player does that action, you mark down a symbol representing that action (this is where you would refer to the key or legend that you need for your league’s statisticians).There’s often a table in the scorebook itself with recommended actions, but here’s what we like to use:

  • “1”, “2”, “3” => free throw made, 2 point field goal made, 3 point field goal made
  • “1M”, “2M”, “3M” => free throw missed, 2 point field goal missed, 3 point field goal missed
  • “R” => Rebound
  • “A” => Assist
  • “S” => Steal
  • “B” => Block
  • “F” => Common Foul
  • “TF” => Technical Foul
  • “TO” => Turnover

You don’t have to track every one of the actions listed above. A lot of leagues simply track made baskets and fouls – but again, ensure that every game tracks the same actions. You don’t want to end up with some games having certain player actions tracked, but other games, the statisticians weren’t writing those actions down.

There are some non-player specific actions that need to be tracked as well. This covers things like timeouts and team fouls. You’ll likely find an area in your scorebook sheet where you can tally up team fouls as they occur – and it’s important that you do so, since team fouls are important to the referees.

The reason is because a team may enter the “bonus” – when any common foul is automatically awarded free throw attempts.  Speak to your referees to know when a team will be considered “in the bonus” – it’s usually after 7 team fouls in the half. Likewise, timeouts need to be tracked to avoid a team calling more timeouts than they are allotted. Note which half or quarter the time out was taken. Remember that if a team asks for a timeout and doesn’t have any remaining, you must notify the referees immediately so that the team can be assessed a technical foul.

After the game

After the final whistle has blown, you still have some more tasks ahead of you with regards to the scorebook. You’ll still need to write down the final scores, and verify that you aren’t missing any information. Finally, once you’ve written the game’s final scores for each team, ask each team’s captain or coach to validate the scores and sign their names next to it. This prevents any situations later in the season where teams debate their scoring totals or win/loss records. You’ll also want to go through the players on each team, and write ‘DNP’ next to their names to indicate “Did Not Play”. That way, players’ average statistics only account for those games in which they’ve actually played. Note: A player who plays in a game for any number of minutes, even if they don’t record a single statistic, is not considered a ‘DNP’. That player’s season statistical averages must include that game.

Now, you’re finally ready to share your statistics with your players and teams. If you use to share your scores and statistics, you’re in luck. You’ll be able to enter the statistics directly as you wrote them in your scorebook into our website, and our stats entry tool will tally every player’s action up for you, including calculating the final scores. This can easily save you hours of time for each set of games your league plays.

If you don’t use, you’ll have to manually tally up your player’s statistics. Add up each category, eg. adding the 1’s, 2’s and 3’s together to get a total for points, and counting rebounds and assists. Be sure not to make any mistakes. You can then enter the final numbers into your website or send out a spreadsheet with the values.

Final thoughts

Basketball scorebooks are easy to use once you understand the basics of how they work and get a hang of how to use them. They’re an easy way to add some professionalism to your league, and if you have the personnel to do it, it really goes a long way in pleasing your players.

If you’re wary of having to write down statistics in your scorebook every game, be sure to try out our FREE digital basketball scorebook app. It’s available as a basketball scorebook mobile app as well as an online basketball statistics tracker for your laptop. You’ll be able to tap each player’s action as it happen during the game, then just tap ‘Save’ after the game and have every one of the statistics automatically saved online to at your league’s own free website.  Once online, you can share the statistics with anyone in the world. Try it out now!

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