Introduction to Basketball

Basketball is a sport played between two teams normally consisting of five or more players. Each team has five players on the basketball court at any given time. The objective is to score more points than the other team, with points being scored by shooting a ball through a basketball hoop (or basket), which is located ten feet above the ground. The two teams shoot at opposite goals. In order to move while in possession of the ball, a player must be dribbling, or bouncing the ball.

The number of points awarded a player for successfully shooting the ball through his team’s goal varies according to the circumstance. The most common scenario is the two-point play, wherein a player scores two points for making a basket anywhere inside the “3-point line” while the ball is in play. A semicircular line (the three-point line) marks the area beyond which, if a player makes a basket, three points are awarded for the shot. One point is given to a player upon successfully making a free throw, or a foul shot.

During play, referees monitor the game and call fouls, which result from a player illegally interfering with another during the game. For instance, if someone pushes a player on the other team while he is taking a shot, a foul is called. In this situation, the shooter is allowed to shoot two free-throws from the foul line while being unguarded. Some examples of fouls that can be called in basketball are:

  • Blocking
  • Charging
  • Hooking
  • Shoving
  • Over-the-back

Besides fouls, players can also be punished for other violations of the rules of basketball, such as traveling, which occurs when a player moves more than one step with the ball without dribbling or shooting. Such violations result in a turnover, wherein the ball is given to the other team.

Defensively, there are a few ways in which a team can gain possession of the basketball in order to score. Offensive fouls (such as charging) result in the defensive team being awarded the ball. Unforced turnovers, such as when the offensive team travels or throws the ball out of bounds, also result in the defensive team being given the ball. If the offense misses a shot, and the defense rebounds the missed shot, the defensive team then becomes the offense. Also, the defense may steal (without fouling) the ball from the offense.