The Basics of Basketball

Basketball is a team sport in which players attempt to score points by shooting the ball through a basket. It is played on a rectangular floor called the court, with a hoop at each end of the court and a net. Players advance the ball by bouncing it while walking or running (dribbling), or by passing it to a teammate. Players may also try to steal the ball from a dribbling opponent or block shots. In addition, players must be able to rebound missed shots and play solid defense.

The game is scored in a series of four quarters of varying length. The team with the most points at the end of the game wins. In a regular game, points are awarded for scoring inside the round arc on the floor (the three-point line), and outside of it (the two-point line). If a player is fouled while making a shot, they will be granted a free throw that is worth one point.

There are a few rules of the game that all players must be familiar with before playing: time restrictions on holding the ball before attempting a shot (8 seconds in FIBA and NBA games, 10 seconds in high school and college for both sexes), time limits when passing inbounds from the defensive half of the court (5 seconds), and limitations on staying within the restricted area of the paint (or “key”) (3 seconds). Players should also be accustomed to the movement of teammates and the concept of “screening” – positioning themselves stationary behind or beside a defender to free a teammate to shoot, pass, or create.

Each team has five players on the court. The tallest player is the center, and the other four fall into one of the following positions:

Point guard – also known as the “1” – is the leader of the offense and typically the fastest player on the team. The point guard is usually capable of both long and short-range shooting, and should be a good passer and dribbler.

Shooting guard – a position that requires a good combination of speed and skill, as well as height and strength. The shooting guard typically patrols the three-point line and can also play in the paint if necessary to free up teammates.

Power forward – a more physical position that relies on size and strength to be effective. The power forward can play the center role as well, but is generally more reliant on his or her ability to get into the paint and score with hook shots and dunks.

Rebounding – grabbing a missed shot that bounces off the rim or backboard. Rebounding is a vital part of the game, and players should practice different methods for getting rebounds, including jumping in to meet the ball in the air and using a screen to set up a teammate. Rebounding should be done aggressively, but without excessive contact that could result in a foul.