The Basics of Basketball

Basketball is a team sport in which players shoot a ball into a basket or net to score points. The game originated in the United States and was introduced internationally in 1893. It is played by men and women, and can be enjoyed at all levels of competition, from recreational leagues to professional games. The most important skills in basketball are dribbling, passing, and shooting. Basketball can be challenging for beginners, but with practice and time it becomes easier to pick up.

Basketball can be played with as few as two people, although official games require a minimum of 10 players. It can be played indoors or outdoors, on a flat surface such as a hard court or an athletic field, and is available to anyone willing to participate. To learn more about the game, visit a local sports center or association to find out how to join an existing team or start one of your own.

To advance the ball, players must dribble, or bounce it while walking or running without touching the floor with any other part of their body. They may also pass the ball to a teammate, or throw it overhand or underhand. Players must be able to use either hand, and should practice both ways to be more versatile.

The goal of the offensive team is to score points by shooting the ball into the basket, or by having a teammate score a basket for them. Each point scored counts toward the team’s total score, and the player or team that scores the most points at the end of the game wins.

A team is comprised of five players on each side, arranged into playing positions according to their height and skill level. The tallest player is the center, the next-tallest player is the power forward, the shortest and most agile players are the small forwards, and the speediest players on the team are the guards. The point guard, usually the fastest player on the team, organizes the offense by controlling the ball and ensuring that it gets to the correct player at the right time.

Other rules are imposed to promote more offense, such as time restrictions that limit how long a player can hold the ball before shooting (8 seconds in FIBA and NBA play for both sexes, and 10 seconds in high school and NCAA play for both sexes), and restricted areas known as the free-throw lane (4 seconds). A player can be fouled while attempting a shot and awarded an additional free-throw (often called an “and one”) if successful.

To prevent opponents from scoring, the defensive team can stifle offense by stealing the ball from a dribbler, intercepting passes, or blocking shots. They can also rebound missed shots from the hoop or backboard.