A jump ball in basketball is one of the ways to put the ball into play. On a jump ball, the referee blows his whistle and tosses the ball high into the air. One player from each side takes the jump ball by leaping into the air and trying to tip it into their team's possession. Players are not allowed to grab the ball. Instead, they must tap and redirect the ball in the direction of a teammate using one hand. Jump balls are used in order to give both teams an equal chance at possession.
Jump balls take place on the midcourt line at the jump circle. The jump circle is also known as the center circle or midcourt. This is also where every game begins as a jump ball called "tip-off" happens to open a game, it is much like an opening faceoff in hockey.
Any player on the floor can take the jump ball. However, the center is usually responsible for taking jump balls. This is because centers are the tallest and biggest players on the team. Since jump balls require players to jump in the air and redirect the ball to a teammate, it is in a team's best interest to have their tallest player take jump balls.