The Basics of Basketball

Basketball is a team sport in which players compete to score points by throwing the ball into a basket. The game is played on a rectangular court with two baskets at either end, separated by a free-throw line and a foul lane. A game is typically divided into four or more quarters, with short gaps of several minutes between them. If the game ends in a tie, overtime periods of various lengths may be required to determine a winner.

The game begins with a “jump ball,” in which the referee throws a ball vertically into the air near the center of the court, and opposing teams jump to hit it. Once a player retrieves the ball, her teammates must organize themselves into an offensive unit that can make shots and avoid being fouled by the other team.

There are many different strategies in basketball, with the defensive unit focusing on preventing their opponents from scoring by stealing the ball from a dribbling player or intercepting passes. The offense uses techniques to improve the chances of making a basket, including passing and cutting.

A skilled player can dribble the ball without looking at it, relying on the movement of his hands and peripheral vision to keep track of the location of the ball. This allows him to concentrate on setting up teammates or scoring opportunities.

The basketball player can also “box out” his opponent, using the body to block the opposing player from a rebound. If a player blocks an opposing player, they are awarded one additional free-throw (2 or 3 points) in addition to the normal free-throw earned for a basket made at the time of the foul.

Other terms used in basketball include the dribble, drive, post up and box out. A dribble is the act of bouncing the ball off the floor with one hand, while a drive is a brisk advance toward the basket with the aim of shooting. A post up is a position in which an offensive player stands close to, but facing away from, the basket. A box out is a defensive strategy in which a player moves between an opponent and a teammate in order to prevent him from receiving a rebound on a missed shot.

A shot that misses both the rim and the backboard is often called an air ball, while a particularly bad or deflected shot may be called a brick. The hang time is the amount of time a player remains in the air after jumping for a slam dunk or layup. The most successful shot of all, however, is known as a bank shot, which is when the ball bounces off the backboard and into the basket. A bank shot is often referred to as a three-pointer at the professional level. At the university level, a bank shot is sometimes referred to as a one-pointer. This is because a successful bank shot earns three points, while a regular basket will only award two points.