Basketball Summary

Thanks to its many rules and regulations, basketball can seem complicated to understand. However, the core ideas of the sport can be distilled into a few basic concepts. Read on for a short summary of how basketball works.

The Basketball Court

Basketball Court Dimensions NBA

Basketball is a game played on a court, usually made of wood. Some courts, usually those placed outdoors, are made of concrete or other harder materials. In the NBA, the dimensions of the court measure 50 feet wide by 94 feet long. There is a hoop on both sides of the court where all scoring occurs. The hoop consists of a basket, backboard, and net.

Scoring Points

Basketball Scoring

To score points, the ball must pass through the rim and through the mesh netting. A player must also be in bounds when shooting the ball. The three-point line surrounds each basket. If a player shoots the ball from outside the three-point arc, it's worth three points, while a basket inside the arc is worth two points.

Game Format

Basketball Regulation

The format of a basketball game in the NBA is four quarters that last 12 minutes each. In college basketball, there are no quarters. Instead, there are two halves of game time that last 20 minutes each. Overtime is used if the score is tied at the end of the fourth quarter or second half. The shot clock keeps track of how much time a team can have possession of the ball. In the NBA, the shot clock is 24 seconds, while it is 30 seconds in college.

Basketball Teams

Basketball Team

Each team has five players on the court playing both offense and defense. A basketball team has a point guard, shooting guard, small forward, power forward, and center. Players move the ball on the court by shooting, passing, dribbling, and pivoting.

General Rules

Here are some general rules to keep in mind when watching or playing basketball:

  • Jump balls and throw-ins are used to put the ball in play.
  • Players score two or three points for making a shot, depending on where they shoot from on the court.
  • Coaches can make substitutions for their players when the ball is dead.
  • The ball is dead whenever play is stopped.
  • The referees will blow their whistle and stop play if a foul or violation happens.
  • When a player is fouled while shooting, they get free throws which are worth one point each if successfully made.
  • When a violation is called, a turnover occurs, and the other team gets possession of the ball.
  • A personal foul is called on any player that makes illegal physical contact with an opposing player.


How is basketball played?

Basketball is played by attempting to shoot the ball through your opponent’s hoop. Two teams of five players each compete to score the most points by making successful shots. Players have offensive and defensive roles, with possession of the ball switching after a score or turnover. The team with the most points at the end of the second half wins the game.