The Basics of Basketball


Basketball is a team sport in which players compete against one another to score points by putting the ball through a basket. During the game, teams pass and dribble the ball, while abiding by a set of fixed rules. A basket or field goal scores two points, and a shot made from behind a line called the three-point line scores three. Free throws, worth one point each, are awarded to a team when a player on the opposing team commits a foul.

A game of basketball begins when a referee tosses the ball up between two opposing players in the center circle of the court. The first team to grab the ball takes possession and attempts to advance it toward the opposing team’s basket. During the course of the game, players alternate between offense and defense, trying to steal the ball, contest shots, deflect passes, and garner rebounds. The five players on each side of the court fall into five playing positions, with the tallest player serving as the center, the second-tallest player being the power forward, the shortest player being the small forward, and the best ball handler being the shooting guard or point guard.

The offensive team must dribble the ball while moving down the court, allowing them to pass it to teammates or move past the opposition defense without being fouled. However, a player may not move faster than one dribble per second or take more than two steps without stopping to dribble again, as this is considered a violation of the game’s rules.

Once a player is in the opposition’s half of the court, they must remain within this zone for 10 seconds before attempting to shoot a basket or passing the ball back into their own half. The opposing team can also not block a shot until the ball is in its downward path toward the basket or it has touched the backboard. Blocking can be performed in a number of ways, including jumping to meet the ball in the air and pushing the player out of their way.

When the ball goes out of bounds on the sides or corners of the court, it is a turnover and the opposing team gains possession of the ball. In the early days of the game, boundaries were not clearly defined, leading to pushing, shoving, elbowing, and total bedlam as players ran around in a mad dash to be first up the stairs to gain possession of the ball. A group of officials now ensures that players follow the rules and penalizes them when they break a rule, such as when a player makes physical contact with an opponent.

There are many different types of shots in basketball, but the most important factor in a successful shot is the “follow through.” A player must push off the ground with their foot while shooting to create the extra momentum needed to propel the ball through the hoop. The more consistent a player is with their shooting motion, the more accurate and powerful their shot will be.