The Basics of Basketball

Basketball is a team sport in which a ball is moved down the court toward a basket, or hoop, by passing and dribbling. Each player on a team tries to protect the ball, contest shots and passes and garner rebounds. The game can be played with as few as two people, but official games require at least 10 players to compete. If you’re interested in becoming a member of a basketball team, check out local sports centers and associations for information on how to join a league or start your own team.

The rules of basketball are designed to create a fair and fun competition for all participants. A game is won by the first team to make a certain number of points in a set amount of time. Points are awarded for a variety of activities, including making a basket or getting a rebound after a missed shot. There are also penalties imposed on the time a player has before progressing the ball past halfway (8 seconds in FIBA and NBA play, and 10 seconds in high school and NCAA play for both sexes), before shooting (24 seconds in FIBA and NBA play and 30 seconds in U Sports and Canadian university play for both sexes) and remaining in a restricted area of the court known as the free-throw lane or “key” (3 seconds).

Traditionally, basketball was played with eleven players on each side. In the early days, boundaries between the opposing teams were not defined, resulting in pushing, shoving, elbowing and desperate dives for the ball that led to fights and bedlam on the floor of the arena. Later, the game evolved into one in which the teams alternately took turns holding the ball.

Each game is divided into halves, and in college and lower levels, the halves are twenty minutes long. In high school and below, games are divided into eight or six minute quarters. If the game is tied at the end of regulation, overtime periods of various lengths are played until a winner emerges.

Passing and dribbling

The ball in basketball is rolled or shot by placing the hand on which it is held, or the shooting arm, above the head. It is then released while extending the arm, and a quick follow through with the hand that was used to hold the ball is required to put backspin on the ball for accuracy. The more spin, the easier it will be for the ball to catch on the rim and bounce off the backboard into the basket.

Beginners should practice dribbling the ball, preferably in a circle with their hands on top of each other to get used to handling it and keeping it under control. It is also important to dribble with both arms and to not look at the ball while dribbling. This helps to keep the ball from falling off the fingertips, which is a common mistake among beginners. When learning to shoot, it is also important to remember that the power comes from the legs, not the arms, and to jump straight up while shooting, rather than attempting a shot while dribbling.