The Basics of Basketball

Basketball is a team sport in which players score points by throwing (shooting) a ball into a basket. The game can be played by two or more teams of five players, with one person on the bench for each team. Games are played over 40 minutes, and a buzzer signals the end of each quarter or half. The game can be played both indoors and outdoors, on either a hard or artificial surface.

Players advance the ball by bouncing it while walking or running (dribbling), or by passing it to a teammate. In most cases, a player must make a pass to advance the ball, which requires good vision and communication. The goal of the defensive team is to prevent the other team from scoring by forcing them into a turnover, or by blocking their shots.

In addition to the rules of the game, there are a number of strategies and tactics that can help a player improve his or her performance. Having the right attitude is also important, as well as learning as much as possible about the sport. This can be done by watching videos and reading books, as well as talking to other players and coaches.

It is important to practice fundamentals such as dribbling, passing and shooting, as well as more complex skills such as setting clean picks or screens. It is also a good idea to spend time playing defense and working on the transition from man-to-man defense to zone defense.

A player can only hold the ball for a limited amount of time before he or she must shoot it, and there are also restrictions on how close a player may be to the basket. Typically, a player can only make a shot from inside the paint (the area around and behind the hoop) if he or she is closer than the three point line. Similarly, a player can only remain in the opposing team’s rectangular “key” area for 3 seconds before a foul will be called.

When a player is fouled while shooting, he or she will be awarded a free throw. Depending on the circumstances, these can be worth 1 or 2 points. A team cannot take a free throw when the ball is in their own half of the court, known as the backcourt. It is also illegal to touch a player or the ball when it is out of bounds. In addition, a player can only take one time out per game, which is usually accompanied by a clock stoppage requested by the coach for a brief discussion with his or her players. Occasionally, a team will request a full clock stoppage for a longer period of time. This is known as a technical foul. It is usually penalized by the referee with a loss of possession for the offending team.