Basketball is a team sport in which the aim is to score points by throwing the ball into a basket. It is played on a court and the game lasts two fifteen-minute halves with a five-minute break between. The side that scores the most goals in that time wins the match. A game may also be extended beyond that if the teams are tied. The rules of the game can vary slightly depending on where you are playing or who is refereeing, but there are some universal aspects.
Players advance the ball by bouncing it while moving both feet (dribbling), or by passing it to a teammate. The best players can dribble with their backs to the opposition, or between their legs, to make it more difficult for defenders to steal the ball. In order to pass the ball, players must be in control of it, so if they drop it or let it go, they must retrieve it before attempting another pass.
The most common way to score a point is by shooting into the basket. There are a number of different shots, the most common being the layup (also known as a jump shot). This requires a player to be in motion towards the basket and then throw the ball downwards into it from above. The most crowd-pleasing and spectacular shots are the slam dunks, which involve a player jumping very high and throwing the ball through the basket with one hand, with both feet off the ground.
There are a number of other ways to score, including free throws and three-pointers. Players are awarded a free throw when they are fouled while attempting a shot, and they can also be awarded two or three additional free throws if they are successfully fouled after a made basket.
In addition to the basic rules of the game, there are a number of rules specific to individual games and tournaments. These are generally dictated by the governing body of the game, such as the NBA or FIBA.
There are many ways to improve your basketball skills, including working on your free-throw technique and focusing on defensive strategies. It is also important to focus on the fundamentals of the game, such as rebounding and passing, before trying more advanced moves, such as the slam dunk. It is often easier to improve in a few areas than trying to master everything at once. This is especially true of shooting, where it is better to practice for longer periods of time and work on accuracy rather than speed. It is also important to get plenty of rest and recovery between training sessions. If you are serious about becoming a better player, it might be worth joining a club where you can learn from experienced coaches.