The game of basketball is one of the most popular sports in the world. It is a team sport played by two teams of five players on a rectangular court with a hoop (the basket) at each end.
The ball used in basketball is a rubber bladder with a covering made from either leather or synthetic composite material. The ball may be laced, measuring close to 32 inches (81 cm) in diameter, or unlaced, measuring 30 inches (76 cm) or less in diameter. The hoop can be a round or square, and is mounted on a metal ring.
In order to score a point, the ball must be thrown or dribbled through a basket at the opponent’s end of the court, and the player whose shot it was must touch it. A successful shot is worth two points, and a basket is worth three or four points depending on whether the basket is scored after a free throw, an offensive or defensive foul, or both.
Players play in five positions on each side of the court, and they must be able to move the ball effectively and quickly with their hands. The tallest of these players is the center, the second-tallest player is a power forward, and the shortest player is a small forward.
Offensive plays involve quick passes, and players often move without the ball to gain an advantage, such as a screen or cut. In a screen or pick, a player positions himself in the way of an opposing defender to limit their defense and give their teammates more room to pass or shoot.
Defensive plays include a block, which is an attempt to stop a player from shooting or passing the ball. The block can occur when the defender blocks the ball from its downward path, or when the defender touches any part of it before it reaches the rim.
A shot in the basket can be a straight-up or off-the-backboard shot, but the most common type is the layup, where the ball is dribbled toward the basket and laid up by the player. Another type is the slam dunk, in which the player jumps very high and throws the ball downward into the basket.
Dribbling is an important skill for the basketball player, as it allows him or her to control the ball more effectively and quickly. It also increases a player’s agility and speed, which can make it easier to score points and win games.
Many of the earliest basketballs were made from panels of leather stitched together with a rubber bladder inside, covered with a cloth lining for durability and uniformity. Leather has since been replaced with synthetic composite materials.
In addition to dribbling, the use of other techniques such as shooting, passing, and blocking have added to the variety of offensive plays. Some of the more traditional types of passes include the chest pass, in which a player passes the ball directly to a receiver from their own chest; the bounce pass, in which the passer passes the ball with his or her body rather than releasing it crisply two-thirds of the way down from the receiver’s chest; and the overhead pass, in which the ball is released over the passer’s head and down over the receiver’s shoulders.