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Saturday, September 30, 2023
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Basketball – Know The Rules and How to Play the Game


History of Basketball

Basketball hoop and ball during sunset

Basketball doesn’t date back to centuries and is relatively a recent invention. The place of origin was Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA)Training School in Springfield, Massachusetts. It was early December in 1891. The physical education professor and instructor, Mr.James Naismith at YMCA thought about keeping his gym class active despite raining.

He wanted to devise a vigorous indoor workout to keep the students active in the long English winter. He rejected many ideas. And he finally came up with the basic rules and fixed a peach basket onto a 10-foot elevated track.

The bottom of the basket was in the closed position as usual and didn’t resemble the modern basketball nets. They had to get the ball back after each score. Then they removed the bottom.

Initially, players used the soccer ball to play basketball. After inserting the inflatable bladder, they used a set of laces to close the opening. The protruding laces made the bounces and dribbling unpredictable.

Later, players began to use the lace-free balls. The balls were brown in color. Only in the late 1950s, to make it visible to both the spectators and the players, Tony Hinkle introduced the orange ball.

Players did only bounce pass and passing the ball was the primary part of the game. Dribbling was not a part of the game, and the early shape of the ball didn’t help it. Dribbling became common after 1896 and the rule against double dribble came into force in 1898.

The peach baskets were in use until 1906. Then came the usage of metal hoops with backboards. Before that, they fixed the basket in the balcony of the court. As spectators interfered with the shots, using of backboards came into practice.

In 1892, Frank Mahan, one of the players from the first original game and the inventor Naismith, after a conversation, named the game as ‘Basketball.’

On January 20, 1892, nine players played in the first official game at the YMCA, Albany in New York and the game ended in 1-0.

Then football players who were not able to practice the game in icy weather split the team into two halves of five each and played basketball. By 1897 – 98, teams of five on each side became a standard.

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How to Play Basketball

Basketball players standing together in discussion

The choice of the right basketball depends on age and gender. The size seven ball is for professional men and men players from high school. The size six is suitable for boys aging between 12 to 14 and for girls and women ages 12 and up. For children of ages between 9 and 11, size five is suitable, and size four is for children between five and eight years old. For the very young age between 4 and 8 years, size three, the mini size is the right one to start to play.

Standard basketballs are made of rubber and synthetic materials and are available in stores for sports goods. Choose the ball, which is the right one for you.

Generally, hoops are at 10 feet high and 18 inches in diameter and have plexiglass backboard which players may use for bouncing shots. Two hoops are in use in full courts. But to play warm-up games or to play around with friends, players use a half-court with one hoop.

In a full-court game, it is usual that two teams consist of five players each compete against each other.

Scoring Points

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In basketball, the player who shoots the ball through the basket gets one to three points which depends on the place from which he shoots.

A half-circle extending to about 20 feet from the hoop in most courts is the three-point line. When the player shoots from inside the half-circle, he gets two points, and for shooting the ball from beyond the half-circle, he gets three points.

Foul shots get one point each, and the players get it from the free-throw line which is 15 feet from the hoop. If players are fouled when trying to shoot the ball or if the opponent team has got too many fouls, they get one to three free throws.

When the opposing team hits a player when he takes a shot, he will be awarded the foul. If the player gets the point, he will get the points and one free throw, and if he misses, he gets two free throws.

Dribbling or Passing

Basketball player passing the ball

When you got the control of the ball, and if you are offensive, you have to bend your body a little. It’ll be helpful in guarding and protecting the ball while you are dribbling.

Being in a crouched position, keeping the knees flexible and shoulder-width apart and standing on the ball of the feet is the correct stance in playing the basketball.

While learning the player has to bounce the ball constantly with both the hands to get the feel of handling the ball with both the hands. By staying in the little bent position, the player should point his opposite hip towards the basket.

Don’t Use the Palm for Dribbling

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To dribble the ball and to control the ball properly and securely, the player should use his/her fingertips. It’s a common mistake to start with slapping the ball with the palms. After some practice by using the fingertips, the player can get the feel of the right force to use. It is to get back the ball to the hand.

A starter has to start bouncing the ball by standing still at first. By keeping the elbow into the hip, he has to flex the wrist to bounce the ball. Dribbling should be done by the movement of the wrist and the player should keep the movement of the elbow from the hip position, as little as possible.

The ball should have the proper level of air inside the bladder, which ensures proper bouncing of the ball.

Don’t Dribble Too High

Seasoned players dribble and bounce the ball with ease, but for the beginners, it would be tough to keep the ball down and to control without watching the ball constantly. While practicing itself, keeping the ball at the waist level is safe as it will be difficult for the opponents to get off the ball. If you stand erect and the ball bounces to your shoulder level, the defenders would easily get the ball from you.

Keep the Head Straight

Keeping the head straight and observing the opponents, teammates, and hoop at the same time is critical to evolve as a good player. While practicing, it will be useful to practice to stay low and dribble the ball without looking at it.

Move and Use Both the Hands

In the beginning, it’s good to start the dribbling by walking. Then learning to jog and run while dribbling is the next stage of development. Getting too much speed in the running is not so important as controlling the ball.

It’s natural for the players to use the dominant hand for dribbling. But practicing with both hands is the right choice as it makes your movements quicker and unpredictable for the defenders.

Learn Perfect Passes

Basketball players practice passing

Making perfect passes is a vital part of the game, and the accurate passes reach the players perfectly without a need to move for the ball. Chest passes, bounce passes, and throw-in are the types of passes in the basketball that a player should learn with perfection.

Shooting in Basketball

Face the Hoop

baskteball hoop

When a player wants to shoot the ball, he/she has to face the hoop by setting the body in the right position. Both of the toes should face the hoop and the hip should be in a parallel position facing the hoop. The player should stop dribbling and should square up towards the hoop by holding the ball with both the hands.

Balance the Ball

The player should use the dominant hand for shooting. He/She should keep the shooting elbow tight to the hip and should keep the ball in a balanced position on the fingertips on the bottom of the ball. The ball should be at the level of the chin while the player is in a crouching position.

The power comes from the dominant shooting hand while the player uses the other hand for stabilizing and balancing the ball.

Release the Ball

basketball player releasing the ball

When the player is holding the ball in the proper shooting position, he has to extend his shooting elbow forward while also rolling the wrist forward. The reach should be the maximum possible distance, and the ball should pop forwards at the end. Then the player should roll back the hand as he releases the ball.

Jump Shots

basketball jumpshot

Doing jumping while shooting the ball adds extra power. It usually is difficult to shoot just by extending the hands, and so most of the shootings come from jumping. When the player pops up from the crouching position by extending his hands up, he/she has to jump slightly and should push the ball with some extra power.

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Aim Just Over the Rim

During practice itself, training the eye with the ‘sight picture’ which aims just over the rim, yields better results. It helps in avoiding hitting the rim. Otherwise aiming the rim instead of just over the rim and the center of the hoop would end up in hitting the rim repeatedly.


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A common shot that good players don’t miss to score is the lay-up. In playing this shot, the player is in motion towards the hoop and lay the ball up into the basket, and the ball bounces from the backboard. Practicing lay-ups from both sides of the hoop and practicing the right coordination between the hand and knee is important in utilizing the shot well in the game.

Shoot from Anywhere

A good basketball player should be able to shoot the ball with ease from anywhere in the court. Dribbling all around, shooting from different angles and shooting with ease are the marks of a well trained professional player.


From Where to Defend

The player who defends obstructs the opponents from scoring. He/She could steal the ball from the opponent, could prevent the easy movements of the opponent towards the hoop and could prevent the easy passing between the opponents.

The player is generally assigned a role to defend the player playing the same position on the opposite side. Assigning a zone to the player is also practiced in basketball.

Defense Stance

Practicing and playing defense is equally important as playing offense. The stance a player acquires over the practice decides how strong defender the player is.

The player has to stand low and in a crouch with legs wider than the shoulder distance. His hands should be extended on both sides and the front hip should be in sideways while the back hip should face towards the hoop.

Move Sideways

In playing defense, the player has to stick to the opponent to prevent his easy movements. In the process of defending, the player has to move sideways with the defensive crouch. It’s hard to move sideways and good practice in sideways movements makes a good player.

Practicing dribbling from side to side, practicing running sideways, and taking a big step to the side, are essential to get right sideways movements.

Keep Feet Grounded

Jumping in the air too much to defend the opponent is the initial temptation that every player experiences. While jumping, it will be easy for the opponent to crouch immediately and direct the ball to some other angle.

Hence, keeping the feet grounded as far as possible is the safe and right method to play offense or defense. Jumping at the moment when the opponent trying to shoot and stretching both the hands upwards will serve the purpose of defending.

Pick the rebounds

Picking the ball in rebounds when the opponent tries to shoot it, is the essential skill of the skilled defender. Grabbing the ball at the rebounds prevents the second chances for the opponent to shoot immediately.

Avoid Fouls

While playing the defense, the player should keep his/her eyes on the ball only. Hitting, slapping, or grabbing the opponent is foul, and it should be avoided.

Rules and Regulations

Regulations in playing

Though the basic rules don’t vary much, the measurements and time limits vary with the organizations and tournaments.

In basketball, each team will try to outscore the other by shooting the ball through the opponent’s basket from above. The teams also try to prevent the opponent from shooting the ball in their basket and scoring against them. The points each shooting of the ball get vary with the place from which the ball is shot into the basket.

The game is played in four quarters and the length of the quarter varies from 10 mins to 12 mins. It’s two 20 minute halves for college men’s games and 10 minute quarter for college women’s game. 8-minute quarters game is familiar in most of the high school varsity games in the United States.

Fifteen minutes and ten minutes a half-time break is in use, and the length of the overtime period is five or four minutes. And the teams exchange the basket for the second half.

At a time, five players from each team are on the court and unlimited substitutions are allowed. During substitution, the play is stopped. A coach supervises the development and strategies, and the team also has coaches, managers, doctors, and trainers.

Players wear shorts and a jersey with numbers on them. The name of the teams, the name of the players and the name of the sponsors are printed on the uniforms.

Time outs and clock stoppages requested by coaches are allowed in limited numbers, and it doesn’t extend over one minute.

Referees, umpires, and table officials control the game. The table officials keep track of scoring, time, fouls, substitutions and the shot clock.

Regulations for Equipment

The equipment essential for playing basketball is the ball and the court. Clocks, score sheets, scoreboards, alternating possession arrows and stop clock systems form the part of competitive level games.

The court measures 91.9 feet in length and 49.2 feet in width, in international games. The measurement is 94 by 50 feet in the NBA and NCAA. Most of the courts have wood floors and maple planks running lengthwise from the floor.

The rim of the basket measures 18 inches in diameter and the backboard with which the basket is attached measures 6 by 3.5 feet. The rim is at 10 feet above the floor in all competitions and is 4 feet inside the baseline.

The size of the ball as per the regulation is 29.5 inches in circumference and 22 oz in weight for men and is 28.5 inches in circumference and 20 oz in weight for women.

Fouls and Violations

Personal fouls

Hitting, pushing, slapping, holding, or illegal picking come under personal fouls.

In the event of the player is fouled when shooting, he gets two free throws if the shot hasn’t scored and one free throw if the ball has gone through the basket.

The player gets three free throws if he is fouled while shooting for a three-point goal and misses the shot. The player gets one free throw if he makes the shot and gets the goal.

If fouled while playing and the player is not shooting, the ball is given to the team the player belongs to. If the team gets the ball at the nearest side, baseline or out of bounds then the team has to pass the ball into the court within five seconds.

In the case of a team has already committed seven or more fouls, the player who has been fouled by the team will get one free throw. He will get another free throw if he makes his first shot. If it is ten or more fouls, the player gets two free throws.


When a player pushes or runs over an opponent who is defending, he is ‘charging.’ Then the umpire will hand over the ball to the opponent team.


It’s a personal contact that results when a defender not establishes the position in time and prevents the opponent’s drive to the basket.

Flagrant foul

It’s the result of violent action with the opponent like hitting, kicking, and punching. The opponent gets free throws and retains the ball after the free throws.

Intentional foul

When a player makes physical contact solely to steal the ball, it is intentional foul, and it’s a judgment call for the officials.

Technical foul

Bad language, improper gestures, obscenity, arguing, and any related things come under technical foul. It also includes improper filling in the scorebook or dunking during warm-ups.

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The ball should be within the boundaries of the court. The team which touches the ball before it goes out of bounds loses possession of the ball. The ball is out of bounds if it touches the boundary line or if it touches any player or any object that is out of bounds.

The player can’t move without dribbling, and there is a limitation in the steps without dribbling. The violation is traveling. The player shouldn’t stop and resume his dribbling. A dribble should not touch both the hands and the violation is double dribble. Placing hands on the bottom of the ball is ‘carrying the ball’ and is a violation.

The player should not kick the ball or handle it with the fist. There are time restrictions in progressing the ball past halfway, in attempting a shot, in holding the ball while closely guarded and in remaining in the free throw lane.

The player should not interfere illegally with a shot, and we call the violation as basket interference or goaltending.

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