The Basics of Basketball


Basketball is a team sport in which players try to score points by shooting a ball through a hoop hung 10 feet above the ground. The game originated in 1891 when James Naismith, a physical education professor and gym teacher, invented it as an indoor game for his students to keep them active during the winter. The game caught on quickly and is now played in more than 200 countries.

The rules of basketball are relatively simple. Each team has five players who are assigned a position on the court: point guard (also known as the “1”), power forward, center, small forward, and shooting guard. The team with the ball is called the offense and must move it down the court toward the basket, or goal, by passing or dribbling. The defense tries to steal the ball, contest shots, deflect passes, and grab rebounds. When a player is fouled while shooting, they are awarded free throws. Each free throw is worth one point, except for 3-point shots, which are worth two or three points. The game is played in halves, and the teams take a short break at halftime. There is also a gap of several minutes between each quarter. In addition, a limited number of time-outs, or clock stoppages requested by the coach and/or mandated for televised games, are allowed.

Basketball is ideal for bringing people together, especially in a development context. It is accessible to young men and women, young and old, able-bodied and disabled. It is a sport without religious or cultural associations, which makes it suitable for use in regions where divisions between different groups exist. It is an inclusive sport that can be used with girls and boys, from the poorest communities to the most affluent.

It is important to practice at game speed in order to improve skills and get used to the pace of a game. Many players have good form during daily dribbling and shooting sessions, but struggle to transfer those skills to the fast-paced action of a game. It helps to pretend that defensive players are guarding you while practicing to help simulate the heightened level of pressure in a game.

The basic rules of a basketball game are as follows: The ball must be touched with the hand only; any other part of the body or equipment is not allowed. Players cannot dribble more than twice in a row and they must bounce the ball on both sides of their feet before shooting or passing. If a player takes more than two steps without dribbling, they are guilty of a foul called traveling. A player can only pass or shoot the ball once they have crossed the center line. Substitutions are permitted when play is stopped. Players must enter the game legally and a member of their team must exit the game as well. Violations of the rules can result in technical fouls and/or ejection from the game. A game is won by the first team to reach six points or more. If the game ends in a tie, overtime periods of varying lengths are played until a winner emerges.