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Basketball Rules

What are the rules of basketball? How is the sport of basketball played? Here are the most important rules you need to know about basketball.

The Rules of Basketball

You may have heard the names Steph Curry, LeBron James, or even Shaquille O'Neal, but how much do you know about the sport that made them famous? Basketball is one of the fastest growing sports in the nation. Since its inception in 1891, it has been played in over 110 countries. Many people are most familiar with the NBA, but people of all ages can play in a number of leagues.

You probably know the basics— the team that scores the most points wins the game. But how many people are on a team? What can a player do to prevent the other team from scoring? What are the rules of basketball? Lucky for you, this article is going to answer many questions, highlight key terms, and explain the ins and the outs of the sport.

The Court

Basketball courts can vary in size depending on the age level and league. NBA and college league courts are 94 feet long and 50 feet wide. High school courts are slightly smaller in size, usually totaling 84 feet long and 50 feet wide. Middle school and junior high courts are the smallest, at only 74 feet long and 42 feet wide. There are many components on the basketball court including the basketball nets, foul line, three-point arc, baseline, sideline, center circle.

Basketball Court

The Objectives

Basketball is a competitive game between two teams competing against each other, trying to score the most points by making shots in their opponent's basket. However, each team is constantly defending the other team, trying to prevent them from scoring. Although it sounds easy, there are a lot of rules and regulations to adhere to especially when it comes to moving the ball down the court or else the other team will be awarded the ball.

Basketball Basket

Moving The Ball

Basketball players must always be dribbling when moving down or across the court. As soon as he stops dribbling, he cannot restart dribbling again, or he will be called for a double-dribbling violation. His options are either to shoot or pass the ball. Other dribbling violations include walking and palming. Walking, also known as traveling, is when a player holds the ball while walking on the court. Palming, also known as carrying, is when a player lifts or carries the ball while moving on the court. Players can pass the ball to any player on the court at any time. However, in some leagues, the team in possession of the ball has a certain amount of time before they have to shoot. This is because of the shot clock. In NBA games, the shot clock is 24 seconds and in NCAA games, the shot clock is 35 seconds. Other leagues typically use 30-second shot clocks.

Basketball Dribbling

Game Format and Duration

Basketball games include either four 12-minute quarters in the NBA or two 20-minute halves in the NCAA. In basketball, there is not a certain amount of points a team must score in order to win. The team with the most points at the end of the game wins the game. If the game is tied, overtime quarters occur, which are five minutes long. There are no ties in basketball, so overtime quarters occur until a winner is declared. There are breaks in between quarters for a duration of two minutes, and a 15-minute break at halftime between the second and third quarter. The game clock is stopped when the ball goes out-of-bounds, when a foul is called, when a player is shooting a foul shot, and while a time out is occurring. After a ball is thrown in-bounds, the clock begins when a player touches it. This is why when it's close to the end of a quarter, a player will roll the ball down the court to his teammate to allow more time before he touches the ball. Particularly in the NBA, the clock stops after a player makes a shot during the last two minutes of the regulation game or overtime.

Basketball NBA Game Clock

Basketball Teams and Players

During a basketball game, only five players from each team are allowed to be on the court during the game. However, a team can have a maximum of 15 players. Teams can have up to two players on the inactive list, which are the players who will not be playing in the game. Individual teams must have a minimum of 13 players, with one being inactive. NBA teams often have an average of 14 players on each team.

Basketball Positions

Equipment

In order to play a proper basketball game, you will need a basketball and two basketball nets. Because this game can be played indoors or outdoors, make sure that there are markings on the court. Basketball players must also be in appropriate uniform, which includes their team's jersey, shorts, socks, and shoes. The referees must also wear their appropriate uniform and carry a whistle throughout the course of the game.

Basketball equipment

Fouls, Penalties, and Violations

There are many fouls that a player can commit in a basketball game. Offensive fouls are fouls committed by the team in possession of the ball. Defensive fouls are fouls committed by the team not in possession of the ball. Technical fouls are fouls for unsportsmanlike conduct or violations like calling excessive timeouts or intentionally delaying the game. Shooting fouls are fouls called on a defensive player for fouling an offensive player while he was shooting. The offensive player will receive two free throws if fouled inside the three-point arc, or three free throws if fouled outside of the three-point arc. Personal fouls are the most common fouls in basketball, and it is when a player makes illegal contact with another player. Flagrant fouls are unnecessary or excessive contact with another player. The player and the player's team will receive a foul, and the opposing team is awarded the ball and two free throws. Intentional fouls are fouls that are committed intentionally. Loose ball fouls are fouls called when players of both teams are competing for possession of a ball, which during the game is called a loose ball, because no team has sole possession over it. Illegal screens occur when the offensive player does not make a stationary screen. A screen is intended to prevent a defender from following an offensive player. It involves another offensive player standing in place in hopes to have the other team's defender get blocked by them. Charging occurs when an offensive player in possession of the ball runs into a defensive player who is set on the court. The ball is then turned over to the defensive team.

Basketball Foul

Scoring and Winning

Teams score points by successfully shooting the ball through the net without being called for any violations or fouls. In basketball, there is not a certain amount of points a team needs to score to win. However, the team with the most points at the end of the game wins the game. Overtime quarters are added if there is not a winner after the first overtime quarter. A winner always is declared in basketball, so there is no limit to how many overtime quarters can occur. If a tie was to occur after the four quarters, the game would go into overtime. In NBA games, overtime quarters are five minutes long. In college basketball, overtime quarters are also five minutes long. The team with the most points at the end of the five minutes wins.

Basketball Scoring

Basketball Rules Summary

  • Basketball games include either four 12-minute quarters (NBA) or two 20-minute halves (NCAA).
  • Teams can have a maximum of 15 players, with up to two inactive players.
  • If a player commits a foul or penalty, the other team may be awarded foul shots or possession of the basketball. This depends on the level of severity of the foul, and if the player fouled was shooting the ball.
  • NBA and college league courts are 94 feet long and 50 feet wide.
  • High school courts are 84 feet long and 50 feet wide.
  • Middle school and junior high courts are 74 feet long and 42 feet wide.
  • Substituting players is only granted when the referee says the ball is dead.
  • In the NBA, the ball's circumference is 29.5 inches. In the WNBA, the ball is 28.5 inches.
  • Players must be in the appropriate uniform for their team in order to play.
  • Players cannot commit any dribbling violations, or else the possession of the ball goes to the other team.
  • If a score is tied, the teams play in overtime quarters, which are five minutes long.
  • Since there are no ties in basketball, the overtime continues until a winner is declared.

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