Basketball is a team sport in which players use various skills to score points. The game was invented in 1891 by American physical education teacher James Naismith, who adapted soccer rules to create a new indoor game for students at his gym class in Springfield, Massachusetts. Today, the National Basketball Association is the most prominent professional league for the sport of basketball, attracting top talent from around the world to its member teams and competing internationally in the FIBA World Cup and Olympic tournaments.
Throughout the game, the ball is moved down the court toward the basket by passing or dribbling. The team with the ball is called the offense, while the other team plays defense, trying to steal the ball from dribblers or to block shots. The defensive team may also attempt to rebound missed shots, or retake possession by catching a pass or intercepting a pass.
The game is played on a court measuring 91 ft., 10.4 in. by 49 ft., 2.6 in., although dimensions vary slightly in different countries and regions. The rules of basketball are regulated by the International Basketball Federation (FIBA).
A player shoots a basketball into a basket to score points. Each team has five players on the floor, and players are divided into playing positions according to their heights. The tallest player is the center, the second-tallest is the power forward, and the shortest players are the small forwards and shooting guards. The point guard, usually the best ball handler on the team, initiates the game’s offensive and defensive plays, implementing the coach’s strategy.
When dribbling, a player must keep the ball within one hand at all times and must not carry it, pass it, or hold it with both hands. A skilled dribbler can utilize peripheral vision to keep track of the ball’s location, and can also dribble without looking at it, using the motion of the hand as well as the touch on the ball to guide it.
There are multiple types of fouls in basketball, and the governing body determines which penalties are assessed. Charging is illegal personal contact, while blocking is the act of a defender blocking an opponent’s path to the basket. Flagrant fouls are violent or reckless physical contact, and result in free throws for the fouled team and a loss of the ball.
Other fouls can occur when a dribbler runs into an opponent or a player moves out of bounds. The last team to touch the ball before it goes out of bounds loses possession.
Regardless of skill level, anyone who wants to play basketball can participate in informal pickup games and even practice with a professional trainer or coach. However, before taking up a serious competitive game, it is important that adults check with their doctors to make sure they are healthy enough for vigorous exercise. The sport can put significant stress on joints, especially knees and ankles. Some people with arthritis have found that basketball can help relieve pain and improve flexibility.