The Basics of Basketball

Basketball is a team sport in which players use ball handling, passing, and shooting skills to score points. The game can be played by as few as two people, but official games are often contested with teams of 10 players each. A player scores by putting the ball through the hoop; the point value depends on where the shot was made. Shots made inside the round arc on the floor, called the three-point line, are worth two points; those that are made beyond the arc are worth three points.

The game was invented by James Naismith, an American physical education teacher working at the School for Christian Workers in Springfield, Massachusetts. In 1891, he used a soccer ball and two peach baskets to create the game that has become one of the most popular sports in the world. Playing basketball provides youth with physical fitness, social interaction, and the opportunity to develop motor coordination and self-esteem. It also helps kids learn to work with teammates and develop problem-solving abilities.

In the game, one team has possession of the ball while the other tries to prevent scoring. Players move the ball down the court by dribbling (bouncing the ball while walking or running) or by passing it to other players. The offense may also take a shot, such as a layup or a jump shot, or a free-throw, which is awarded when the opposing team commits a foul.

There are a number of rules that must be followed to avoid fouling or interfering with the game. For example, it is a violation to carry or hold the ball in your hands; to step out of bounds with the ball; or to make illegal physical contact. Defending players must guard their opponents and try to steal the ball, intercept passes, block shots, or gather a rebound to change possession.

Basketball games are usually divided into four quarters of varying length, and the team with the most points at the end of regulation wins the game. If the game is tied after regulation, overtime periods of varying lengths are played until a winner is determined.

During an overtime period, the team that does not have the ball must guard it from the other team. During this time, a player from the other team may attempt to steal the ball or pass it back to their own defense.

To improve their chances of a successful shot, players should practice using both hands to handle the ball. The dominant hand should be used for dribbling and shooting, but the non-dominant hand can help with passing and shielding the ball from defenders when they receive it. It is also important for players to practice at game speed. This helps them get used to the quick pace of a real game, which can be difficult to simulate on your own.