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Basketball Rules List

Table of Contents

What is basketball?

Basketball Rules

Basketball is a sport in which two teams compete in a head to head match-up to see who can score the most points. The sport is played in favor of those with speed, athleticism, tenacity and a good jump shot. It requires a lot of running and endurance in order to be played. It is popularly known as a sport that is played professionally but it can also be played as a casual workout activity at any local gym or school as well.

The sport was created in the United States, however it has grown quite a following overseas. It is a popular sport among people from all over the world and is widely recognized globally. Countries from all over the world also have their own national basketball teams and leagues to give their basketball fans what they want. Many fans enjoy the entertainment and fast pace that the game is often played at.

What are the top 10 rules of basketball?

  1. Each Team is Allowed 5 Players on the Court
  2. A Player Must Dribble to Move With the Ball
  3. Scoring
  4. Committing a Foul
  5. Shooting a Free Throw
  6. Dribbling Violations
  7. Out of Bounds Rule
  8. Backcourt Violation
  9. Three in The Key Violation
  10. Goaltending

1. Each Team is Allowed 5 players on the Court

In a traditional 5 vs 5 basketball game, each team is allowed to have 5 of their players on the court at a given time. This ensures that each player on the opposing team is able to match up properly with another player on the other team. Given this dynamic, it allows for fair play for each team to play the sport on an equal playing field.

In the case of a substitution, during the game a player must leave the court while a new player from their team is allowed to take their place. This happens relatively often throughout the course of a game to give a player a much needed rest. There is no limit to how many times a player can substitute himself in during a game, so this allows for different matchups and in-game strategies to be used in the game.

basketball number of players on the court

2. Dribbling

In order for a player to move with the ball in their possession, they must dribble the ball. Dribbling is when a player bounces the ball on the court in a continuous motion with one hand. The player must keep a "live dribble" at all times in order to move with the basketball.

If the player loses their dribble or picks up the ball for whatever reason they must pass the ball and get it back to resume their dribble. In some cases, if the ball is knocked from the player's possession when they are dribbling then they are allowed to resume dribbling if they get it back. If a player moves with the ball and does not continue their dribble or if they end their dribble and start again without losing possession of the ball it will result in a turnover.

basketball Dribbling

3. Scoring

Scoring in basketball consists of three types of shots; a three-pointer is awarded 3 points, a two-pointer is awarded 2 points, and a free-throw is awarded 1 point.

A three point shot is when a player shoots the ball from behind the three point arc. The three point arc's distance from the basket differs in each basketball league. The three point shot is a much farther and difficult shot to hit than a traditional field goal.

A traditional field goal inside the three point arc will be counted as a two-pointer. These shots can come in a variety of ways including a jump shot, a layup, or a dunk. This is how most points are scored during a regular game of basketball due to it being the easiest shot to make.

A free-throw is a shot that is given to a player as an opportunity to score 1 point due to an infraction caused by the opposing team. The player must shoot from the free-throw line which is 15 feet from the basket. If the basket is made, that team is awarded 1 point.

Basketball Scoring

4. Committing a Foul

More often than not, a foul will almost always be committed during the duration of a basketball game. A foul occurs when a player comes into illegal contact with another player on the opposing team. There are two main types of fouls in a traditional basketball game, offensive and defensive fouls.

An offensive foul happens when an offensive player charges into a defender or sets an illegal screen on a defender. These fouls are usually more rare than defensive fouls.

A defensive foul can occur whenever a defender comes into illegal contact with an offensive player, often during aggressive levels of defense. When a player is shooting the ball and the defender comes into contact with them during the act of shooting it is considered a "shooting foul." If the foul occurs in the act of shooting, then the player who was shooting the ball will be awarded free-throw(s). However, if the foul occurred on the ground and nobody shot the ball then the ball will be considered dead and will need to be put into play again.

Basketball fouls and violations

5. Shooting A Free throw

A free throw is an opportunity for a player to score points without any defender guarding him from beyond the free throw line. This occurs after a player has been fouled in the act of shooting, after a technical foul has been called, or if the opposing team is over their limit of fouls.

When shooting a free throw a player has less than ten seconds to take their shot or else their shot will not be counted and they will forfeit their chance to take a free throw shot. A player is not allowed to step over the free throw line when they take their shot or else their shot will not be counted, even if the shot goes in. Also, a player is not allowed to fake a free throw shot on purpose. One more rule is that a player may not purposely throw the basketball off the back of the backboard in order to catch it and regain possession of the ball, that is considered a violation.

Basketball Shooting a Free Throw

6. Dribbling Violations

Dribbling violations occur quite often throughout the course of a normal basketball game. There are three dribbling violations that occur in basketball and they are known as a travel, double-dribble, and a carry.

A travel is when a player who has possession of the ball moves without dribbling the ball. Traveling is most common with players going for a contested layup or players who try to create space to take a jump shot. A player may take at most two steps without dribbling the basketball, but they must be moving with the intention to score. A double-dribble is when a player ends their dribble and picks it up again to continue their dribble without passing, shooting or losing possession of the ball. A carry is when a player either palms the ball, their hand gathers the ball from underneath the ball or their forearm is able to carry the ball and pause then continue their dribble.

Basketball Dribbling Violations

7. Out of Bounds

If a player steps out of bounds in any direction then they forfeit possession of the ball and the ball is considered dead and must be put back into play. In order to be put back into play, the team must throw the ball from the spot in which the ball went out of bounds.

The player may not step on the out of bounds line or step over the out of bounds line, that is considered to be a turnover. If the ball itself goes out of bounds, whichever team touches it last the opposing team is granted possession of the ball. If a player touches the ball and saves it from going out of bounds, they are not allowed to be the first person to touch the ball even if they have regained position within the boundaries of the court, this incident will also result in a turnover.

Basketball Out of Bounds

8. Backcourt Violation

The half court line essentially acts as another boundary line which players have to respect whether they are advancing the ball or if they are already in the frontcourt.

When advancing the ball up the court a player has 8 seconds to get the ball beyond the half court line, if they fail to do this then it results in a backcourt violation. If a team has already moved the ball towards the front court, it may not go back and pass the halfcourt line again or else it results it also ends up as a violation. If there is a loose ball and a player touches the ball and causes it to go into the backcourt, they or their teammate is not allowed to be the first one to touch the ball if the ball was in their control.

Basketball Back court Violation

9. Three Seconds Rule

This usually happens with larger players or big men that are primarily stationed in the painted area. A three seconds violation occurs when a player stays in the paint for longer than three seconds. There are two variations of this penalty, one being on offense and the other is on defense.

An offensive three seconds violation occurs when a player is in the paint for longer than three seconds. However, if a player is in the act of shooting during the third second then it is completely legal and no penalty shall be applied. The three second count cannot begin until the team is in full control of the ball.

A defensive three seconds violation has the same rules that apply. However, in this case the rule doesn't apply if the defender is actively guarding someone who is close to the paint. Also, the count does not begin until the offensive team advances the ball into the front court.

Basketball Three Second Rule

10. Goaltending

Goaltending happens when a defensive player touches the ball when it is above the rim, on the rim, or if the shot is on its way down and the player blocks the ball from entering the rim. It is also considered goaltending if a player touches the ball after it has been shot and has touched any part of the backboard above the rim and appears to have a chance of going down.

Players who are eager to block shots are often penalized with the goaltending rule. When a goaltending violation occurs then the offensive team which shot the ball is granted the points as if the shot had gone in. If the team had shot a two pointer they would be awarded the two points and if it was a three point shot they would be given the three points.

Basketball Goaltending


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