The Basics of Basketball


Basketball is a team sport in which five players on each side of the court try to score points by shooting a ball into a basket. The game originated in 1891 when James Naismith incorporated elements of other sports, such as soccer and football, into a game played with a soccer ball and peach baskets mounted at each end of a rectangular gym floor called the court.

The teams alternate turns shooting at the basket and guarding the opposing team’s players. The goal is to make as many baskets as possible in the allotted time (NCAA games consist of four quarters, or 15-minute halves). Each made basket is worth two points unless it was shot from beyond the three-point line, in which case it is worth three. In addition, the team may score extra points by making a free throw after being fouled while shooting a regular basket.

To shoot a basket, the player must hold the ball on the fingertips of one hand, usually the dominant hand, slightly above his head. He must then jump and extend that hand, known as the shooting arm, toward the basket. The ball must be released with sufficient force to penetrate the backboard and enter the basket, a technique called follow-through. In addition to the basic shot, players also employ a variety of different techniques and passes for moving the ball down the court. Passes can be chest passes, bounce passes or behind-the-back passes. Some players even attempt no-look and no-hands passes.

When a team gets the ball, it has 24 seconds to shoot a basket or loses possession. In addition, a team can only have the ball in its own half of the court, or backcourt, for eight seconds before giving it up to the other team. During that time, the players on that side must move the ball into the opposition’s frontcourt by passing or dribbling it past the midcourt line.

A team can also gain possession by stealing the ball from an opposing player. This is done when a defender is close enough to a player holding the ball to reach over and grab it from his hands, or if he is touching the ball with his fingers as he dribbles. The defensive team can also get the ball by blocking a player’s path to the basket, or by tipping the ball off the rim.

In addition to the basic rules of the game, there are a number of fouls that can be committed by players or coaches. The most common fouls involve physical contact and illegal moves or gestures. However, there are also technical fouls, which can be called for anything from using profanity during a game to filling out the scorebook incorrectly.