The Basics of Basketball


Basketball is a team sport that involves throwing a ball into a basket (hoop). Players must use a variety of skills, including ball handling, passing, shooting, and rebounding, to score points. Each game is played on a rectangular floor, called a court, with a hoop at each end. The game’s rules are regulated by a referee.

Each team consists of five players, and the goal is to win by scoring more points than the other team. To begin a game, a referee throws the ball vertically into the air in the center of the court, a gesture known as a tip-off. Two opposing teams then jump to grab the ball and play begins. The team that retrieves the ball first becomes the offense, and tries to score by throwing the ball through the opposing team’s basket.

If the offensive team scores a field goal from outside the area encircled by the three-point line, it wins three points. Alternatively, they can score a two-point field goal from inside the arc. A player may also make a basket by jumping and throwing the ball directly into the hoop with one hand. The shot is often accompanied by a leap into the air, known as a follow-through, to add backspin and increase the chance that the ball will bounce in off of the rim or backboard.

The defensive team tries to prevent the offensive team from scoring by guarding each player and moving with them. If a defender guards an offensive player without the ball, the other defenders rotate to another defensive position.

A point guard, usually the fastest member of the team, organizes the offense by controlling the ball and ensuring it gets to a teammate who can shoot or pass. A skilled point guard can dribble without looking at the ball, using the dribbling motion and their peripheral vision to keep track of its location.

In addition to preventing opponents from scoring, the defense must also protect the ball from being stolen. This requires quick decision-making, as well as the ability to read the game situation and change positions at the right time.

The tallest members of the team are known as forwards, and their responsibility is to operate in the paint area — the shaded rectangular space around the basket. They are expected to block defenders, known as screening or picking, to open up other teammates for shots and passes. Forwards are also expected to get a lot of rebounds because they are generally taller than other players on the team.

In addition to general fouls, there are also specific technical and flagrant fouls that can be committed. Examples include hanging on the basket, baiting an opponent, obstructing an opponent’s vision by waving hands near their eyes, climbing on a teammate to secure greater height to handle the ball, and knowingly attempting a free throw to which they are not entitled.