Basketball is a game played by two teams of five players on a rectangular court. The game’s objective is to shoot a ball through the hoop, made from netting stretched across a basket suspended above the ground while preventing the opposing team from shooting through their goal. Team members use their arms to pass the ball and attempt shots.

The playing area of the basketball court

Basketball is played on a rectangular court with a basket at each end. The court is more than twice the size of a soccer field (54 feet by 94 feet) and more than three times the size of a football field (100 yards by 53 1/3 yards). 

Starting Play

The basketball court is divided into two halves by a centreline. Both teams start the game at opposite sides of the center line and abide by basketball’s “touch” rules. Each half-court contains four 24-foot (7.32 m) lanes marked with numbers on both sides like golf greens and designated as 1, 3, 5, and 7. A double lane stripe separates the lanes (single lane if only three players are on each team).

Fundamentals of basketball

1. Dribbling

Basketball players are allowed to dribble the ball with one or both hands. If the player wishes to dribble with both hands, he must dribble with the left hand, then cross over to his right hand for a few steps. No player may run while holding the ball in his hand or dribbling it except behind the three-point line, where a player may race forward after gaining possession of the ball behind that line (hence this is a lot faster when at high speed).

2. Passing

There are two types of passing:

a) Hard pass (or chest pass). This pass is used to initiate the offense. The player stands facing his own basket, with his palms facing down. He then throws the ball from over his head, releasing the ball while at the peak of his jump.

b) Lob or bounce pass. This is a pass that is thrown from near midfield or at the top of the key. It bounces once, then rolls along the floor to a teammate who catches it “behind the back” of his defender. It’s often used as a play-maker’s “set” pass from the pivot area, from which he can immediately begin an offense.

3. Shooting

The player who holds the ball must throw it from his side of the court and shoot before the other team throws it across half-court. The ball must be held behind the line, forward of that line. It is considered a violation and results in loss of possession. A player may grip the ball with his fingertips or control it with his complete hand once he has acquired custody by catching or snatching it from an opponent player. He cannot “palm” (cover) or carry it while running. 

4. Rebounding

After a missed shot, the ball is rebounded by the opposing team. Suppose any player on that team is behind the line when the ball touches or enters the basket. If no player from either team is behind this line, then a “rebounding violation” is called on the team that was not shooting, and their opponent will get possession of the ball. The shots must be in a single group; players may not rebound until all ten players are behind this line.

5. Jumping

Players may jump before throwing the ball. They may not twist, turn, or turn in mid-air to avoid hitting an opponent (allowed if it is a “late jump”). A player may jump straight up.

6. Defending the ball

A defender may place both feet on the floor inside or outside the “defensive cylinder.” The defensive player is not allowed to fall into or touch this cylinder. When a defender is positioned behind the offensive team’s last foot and still in bounds, he is overplaying an offensive player. In this position, he becomes vulnerable to a gross poke check. Players are permitted one step from inside the defensive cylinder when near midcourt before a violation occurs. 

7. Moving without the ball

A player may not run, stop, or slide with the ball without a clear path to a teammate. If a player controls an opponent, play is halted, and the ball is returned to the opposing team.

8. Illegal Pushing

Pushing is allowed if it prevents another player from gaining a lane and creates space for a drive. Players are permitted one step toward their own goal on both offensive and defensive possessions; however, they must keep the foot always touching the floor (e.g., no “up-and-under” dribble pass).


There are various positions that a player can play on the court at any given time during the game.

1. Centre

The center, or center-forward, is typically the tallest of the five players on a team. The center’s main objective is to rebound and block shots from opponents and score directly or set up teammates for higher percentage shots and give inside passes so that players can finish with dunks or layups. The center usually plays close to the basket while the other four players are further away; this is a “low post” position.

2. Point Guard

The point guard is considered the most important player on the court. There are two ways to pass the ball: either a player passes it back to his teammate or passes it to someone else (often an open teammate). The point guard is usually referred to as being the “floor leader” for this reason.

3. Shooting guard

The shooting guard, or small forward, typically plays closer to the three-point line than most of his teammates while still shooting from three-point range himself. He also serves as a screen and pick-up man for other players to receive better shots.

4. Small Forward

The small forward plays closer to the key, but he is usually not as tall or intimidating as some of his teammates in the frontcourt. He typically looks for rebounds and will sometimes play inside.

5. Power Forward

The power forward (PF) often plays a “big man” role, guarding more prominent players and generally operating inside. He usually shoots better from outside than a taller non-power forward can shoot, but since he usually tries to shoot out more than his opponent, his accuracy from outside is limited by his tendency to focus on only one shot at a time.


1. Two-point basket: A player attempts a two-point field goal that is a legal shot — that is, the player hasn’t violated the rules in a shooting. This free throw will count no more than one-half (1/2) of a point, bringing the team’s tally to 2 points and the opponent’s tally to 1 point. 

2. Three-point field goal: A shooter attempts a three-point field goal that is not missed or invalidated by any rule violation or by a deflection off another object or player (such as an offensive rebound).

3. 1 point on the free throw (double bonus): A team scores a free throw in the last two minutes of the game by taking a shot with no time remaining on a full-time clock; the player who made the shot is credited with one point, while the opposing team is credited with zero points.


1. Blocking

Blocking a shot occurs when a player interferes with the progress of a made shot by jumping or moving into the path of an opponent’s attempted shot. Only certain areas, as selected by the referee, are permitted to be blacked out.

2. Elbowing

It will be considered foul when an offensive player uses his elbow, arm, head, hand, or another part of his body to strike an opponent illegally. 

3. Technical fouls

When a player commits an unsportsmanlike act that does not rise to the level of a flagrant penalty but is deemed unfair by an official, the team that receives a technical foul is granted possession of the ball out of bounds.

4. Personal Foul

A personal foul occurs when a player violates rules established by the referee for an illegal action on the court or illegally assaults an opponent, including vehement verbal abuse that constitutes physical harassment. This can also be referred to as “unfriendly conduct.”

5. Intentional Foul

The term is used when a player on offense intentionally commits a foul that is not flagrant before or after gathering the ball for a throw-in.

6. Charging

A pick occurs when an offensive player moves into the path of an opponent with the ball while being positioned in the defensive player’s legal guarding position.


1. Time restrictions

This occurs when a team fails to shoot within twenty-four (24) seconds of possession or gain control of the ball. 

2. Traveling

This is when a player while running with the ball, takes more than two (2) steps without dribbling the ball or contacts the floor with his hand(s).

3. Double Dribble

A dribble occurs when an offensive player picks up his dribble and then continues to dribble again.

4. Goal Tending

A player may not touch the ball on its downward flight with his hands.

5. Back-Court Violation

This violation occurs during a throw-in attempt when the offensive player throws the ball across both baselines without first touching it to the floor or if he continues to step out of bounds after catching the ball.

6. Palming

This occurs when a player intentionally carries the ball in his hand(s).

7. Five Second Violation

An offensive player cannot hold the ball for more than five seconds while being closely guarded (Note: If a player dribbles or is in the act of shooting, he is no longer closely guarded).

8. Three-Second Violation

A player cannot be closely guarded for more than three seconds while the ball is in his hands.

9. Lane Violation 

This occurs when a defending player exaggerates the distance between him and his opponent(s). This allows the offensive player to avoid a violation. 

Note: It is illegal to jump over an opponent who is not moving as if they were actively trying to play defense.

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It is concluded that basketball has certain rules and regulations to its play. Therefore, basketball is played by many countries and even various universities that wish to have their team. Basketball rules made by FIBA are also used in basketball leagues in countries aside from the United States, such as China, India, Australia, Spain and Greece, among others.