How to Play the Game of Basketball


The game of basketball features two five-player teams trying to score points by shooting a ball through a hoop hung 10 feet above the ground. Each point is worth one, and the team who scores more wins. A basket arc that circles the basket at 23 feet 9 inches separates the two sides of the court, and shots made inside the arc are worth two points while those outside are worth three. During the game, players can also earn “free throws,” which are awarded when a player is fouled while shooting.

The first step to playing basketball is learning how to handle the ball. This is accomplished with dribbling drills that require the athlete to move their feet and hands correctly in order to control the ball. The more that this is mastered, the easier it will be for an individual to play the game and make correct decisions on the floor. Basketball drills like dribble tags and stationary exercises can help an athlete develop these skills before moving on to more complicated drills.

When a player is dribbling, it is against the rules to lift or drag the pivot foot, carry the ball with both hands, or stop dribbling and then resume it. Additionally, a player may not intentionally put the ball down on the floor, drop the ball in an attempt to pick it up, or throw the ball over the rim. It is also against the rules to dribble in a direction that would cause another player to be tripped or knocked down, and it is a violation for a player to push off of their trailing foot in order to travel sideways.

Once a player is in possession of the ball, they can advance it by passing it to a teammate or attempting to shoot through the hoop. The ball must be passed within ten seconds in order to keep it from being turned over to the defense. A player can also try to steal the ball from an opponent, intercept a pass, block a shot, or collect a rebound.

In addition to being able to pass the ball and shoot, a good basketball player must know how to read the other team’s defense. Man-to-man defensive schemes require each player to be assigned a specific opponent and follow them around the floor while keeping an eye on their position. Zone schemes are a more flexible defense that allow each player to cover a large area of the court.

Basketball Xs and Os can seem mystical to an outsider, but there are many basic skills that every newcomer should be able to learn. A few of these basics include running the ball, dribbling and shooting techniques, and defense strategies. In addition to these fundamentals, newcomers can also practice fakes and moves that can confuse the opposing team. These moves can be as simple as taking a big step in one direction and crossing the trailing foot just behind the lead foot before pushing off again.