Basketball Rules: A Beginner’s Guide

Basketball is a fast pace, exciting, and engaging sport to watch. Many things happen on every possession and, if you blink, you may miss it. Don’t worry if you blinked. This article is still here and we will teach you the basic rules of basketball in the next 5 minutes.

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    What Are The Positions In Basketball? How Many Players Are On The Court?

    There are two teams that face each other in a game. Each team typically has 12 players available to enter the game and a maximum of 5 players can be on the court at a time per team.

    Each team has unlimited substitutions and a player can be substituted whenever the game comes to a stop by a foul, turnover, or timeout. The five traditional positions of basketball are: point guard, shooting guard, small forward, power forward, and center.

    With the progress of position-less basketball, these positions may change from team to team.

    What Is The Size Of The Court? How Long Is A Basketball Game?

    The game clock has either two halves or four quarters. Furthermore, a time out, a violation, or a free throw shot stops the clock.

    Each team has seven 75 minute timeouts for the game and can only use two timeouts (four overall) within the last two minutes of the 2nd quarter and 4th quarter. The time does not stop after a made field goal unless the game clock is two minutes or less for the quarter or half.

    The court dimensions are 94 ft. by 50 ft. The free throw line is from 15 ft. away from the basket. The three point arc is between 22 ft (corner shot) to 23.75 ft (top of arc) from the basket.

    The offensive team gets a 24 second shot clock to shoot a shot. If a shot is not performed within 24 seconds, then a “24 second violation” occurs and the offensive team loses possession. However, the shot clock resets for three reasons:

    • Missed shot hits the rim and the team gets an offensive rebound

    • Defensive team performs a non-shooting defensive foul

    • Defensive team performs a violation (e.g. kicked ball violation)

    What Are The Phases Of A Basketball Game?

    The objective of the game is to score more points than the other team. The three ways that points can be awarded are: a free throw (1 point), a field goal (2 points), and a three point shot (3 points).

    The team with the ball is on offense and the team without the ball is on defense. The goal of the defense is to prevent the offensive team from scoring or force them into a turnover.

    If a tie game happens at the end of the 2nd half (or the 4th quarter), the game will go into overtime. After that, the game will continue until a team has more points than the other team at the end of an overtime period.

    It is not possible to end the game in a tie unlike other sports such as football (soccer) and American football.

    Photo by Ryan on Unsplash

    What Fouls Occur in Basketball?

    The most common defensive violation is a personal foul. The offensive team is to draw a foul and/or find a way to score the ball into the basket. There are a variety of offensive violations such as going out of bounds or traveling that causes the offensive team to lose the ball.

    What Are Some Common Basketball Terms To Consider?

    There are many basketball terms that fans use during the game. Here are some common ones to understand.

    Assist – When an offensive player scores off a pass from a teammate

    Rebound – When a player catches the ball off a missed shot

    Steal – When the defense takes the ball away from the offense off the pass or a dribble

    Block – When the defender deflects the shot from the offensive player

    Dunk – A two point shot where the offensive player slams the ball through the hoop.

    Drive – When an offensive player with the ball dribbles into the lane.

    Alley-oop – When an offensive player passes the ball in the air to a teammate for a dunk.

    Charge – An offensive foul where the offensive player drives into a stationary defensive player.

    Pick – When an offensive player stands still in an attempt to stop or slow down the defender guarding a teammate.


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