The Basic Rules of Basketball

Are you thinking about signing up your child for a youth basketball league? Brush up on the basic rules of basketball so you can have tons of fun cheering on your child at their first game.

How to Play Basketball

Basketball teams typically have 12 players, with five players per team allowed on the court at a time. The objective is to outscore the opponents by shooting the basketball through the hoop more times than they do.

Every game begins with one player from each team meeting at the mid-court line for the tip-off. The referee tosses the ball into the air between them. Play begins when either player touches the ball and tips it off to one of their teammates.

The offensive team attempts to transport the ball to the scoring basket on their end of the court. This can be done by dribbling (bouncing) the ball or passing it to teammates. Meanwhile, the defensive team tries to block shots, deflect passes, steal the ball, or catch rebounds from missed shots. After each successful basket, the ball goes to the other team, which must transport it to their scoring basket on the opposite end of the court.

How to Score and Count Points in Basketball

Shooting the basketball through the hoop is worth two points. If a player scores from behind the three-point line, that basket is worth three points. Free throws awarded to individual players for fouls made against them are worth one point.

The team with the most points at the end of the fourth quarter is declared the winner. If there’s a tie, the game continues for an extra quarter, known as overtime.

How the Basketball Game Clock Works 

Basketball games are divided into four quarters of six to 12 minutes long, depending on the age and skill level of the players. The clock stops any time the ball is not in play, and halftime occurs between the second and third quarters. 

The shot clock is an important aspect of basketball gameplay. Each team has 24 seconds to attempt a shot. If someone shoots and misses, the shot clock is reset to 24 seconds. If the defensive team gains possession of the ball on the offensive side of the court, they have 10 seconds to get it over the mid-court line. Otherwise, the referee calls a foul and turns the ball over to the other team. 

Common Basketball Fouls and Rules Violations

In basketball, fouls are penalties assessed by the referee for rough or unfair play. When a player is fouled, the referee awards them the ball from out of bounds, and they get to throw it back into play. If the foul occurs while the player is shooting, the player is awarded one to three free throws, depending on where they were when they were fouled and whether they made their shot. Each player is allowed five fouls before they are removed from the game.

Here are some of the most common basketball fouls:

Charging in Basketball

Charging is an offensive foul committed when one player pushes or runs into a defensive player.

Blocking in Basketball

Blocking is a personal foul caused when a defender makes illegal personal contact with an opponent who may or may not have the ball.

Flagrant Fouls in Basketball

A flagrant foul is described as violent contact and may include kicking, punching, or kneeing an opponent.

Intentional Fouls in Basketball

An intentional foul is when a player makes physical contact with another player while not legitimately attempting to play or steal the ball.

Common Technical Fouls in Basketball

A technical foul does not involve player contact but instead revolves around a player’s “manners.” If a player starts swearing or arguing with the referee, or the team’s coach or benched players act poorly, the referee may call a technical foul.

Violations are another form of breaking the rules and result in the team losing possession of the ball. Here are some of the most common violations in basketball:

Traveling Foul in Basketball

Traveling is when a player walks without dribbling the ball.

Double Dribble Foul in Basketball

Double dribble is a violation called for touching the ball with both hands (not including catching the ball) and then dribbling again.

Goaltending Fouls in Basketball

Goaltending occurs when a defensive player touches a shot ball while it’s on its way down from above the rim.

Backcourt Violation Fouls in Basketball

A backcourt violation is declared if the offense crosses the mid-court line after bringing the ball onto their side of the court.

Lane Violation Fouls in Basketball

A lane violation is called during a free throw if a player steps out of line too soon.

Basketball Player Positions

There are five positions on a basketball team. Here’s a look at each one:

  • The center is usually the tallest player on the team. They tend to score lots of points, block the other team from scoring, and catch the most rebounds.
  • The power forward plays a similar role to the center. They are high scorers, have a long shooting range, and regularly guard the most imposing players on the rival team.
  • The small forward is the most versatile position, requiring strength and speed. This player often makes cuts to the basket to get open for a shot as quickly as possible.
  • The point guard has substantial ball-handling and passing skills. They are typically the shortest player on the team and focus on sprinting toward the basket as soon as they get the ball.
  • The shooting guard, as the name implies, is a great shooter and can accurately score baskets from a long distance. Therefore, this player often circulates the three-point line and tries to get open to attempt a shot from this distance.

How to Sign Up Your Child for Basketball

Is your son or daughter interested in playing basketball? If so, i9 Sports®® is the youth sports league for you! We provide age-appropriate basketball instruction, fun for kids of all ages, and one-day-a-week classes to cater to your busy family. With a presence in 1,000 communities across the United States, you’re bound to find an i9 Sports® office near you. Feel free to browse our programs or reach out to us today!

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