The Basics of Basketball


Basketball is a team sport in which players move the ball down the court toward the opponent’s basket by passing or dribbling, abiding by a fixed set of rules. The team with the ball is called the offense; the other team, the defense, tries to steal the ball, contest shots and limit the amount of time the offense has with the ball. The game is played in four 10-minute quarters, with two-minute intervals between each, and 15 minutes of halftime.

There are two baskets on each side of the court, and a player must go out of bounds before shooting again. The teams alternate taking possession after a made shot, and the offensive team must inbound the ball by passing it to a player on the other team. A player cannot grab a rebound when they are not between the ball and the hoop or backboard, so it’s important to practice boxing out your opponents and jumping up to meet the ball in the air.

The five players on each team fall into specific playing positions. The tallest player is the center, the second-tallest and strongest is the power forward, the shortest and most agile is the small forward, and the best ball handlers are the shooting guard and point guard. Each position has its own role in the game and works with the other four players to implement the coach’s offensive and defensive game plan.

A player shoots the ball by extending their dominant hand, the shooting arm, into mid-air and releasing it at the highest point. This action, referred to as a follow-through, creates a backspin on the ball that increases the chances it will hit the backboard and rim on its way up.

When a player is dribbling with the ball, they must bounce it continuously to keep control of it. If they touch a player or the wall while dribbling, they are committing a turnover. A player may also not knock a defender over their forearm or grab them, as this is considered a reaching foul. Lastly, a player can only step forward with the ball twice without dribbling in a row, as more than two steps is a traveling foul.

Players can also be fouled while shooting, which results in free throws for the opposing team. Each free throw counts as one point, and a player is awarded two or three free throws depending on the score at the time of the foul.

Having a routine for your free-throws will help you feel confident when you step up to the line. This could be a simple chant, such as “I got this,” or it could be a mental image, like looking down at your sneakers. The key is to stick with it every time you go to the line. The more you practice, the better you will become.