How To Play Basketball: Tips, Tricks and Fundamentals

Basics

Basketball is a sport played by two teams with five people on each team. The goal is to score more points than the other team by netting a ball inside a hoop, or basket. There are many varieties of basketball, from Professional, College, High-school, Street, Women’s, Olympic and International. This article will address some of the major points of basketball and outline the rules, regulations and aims of some of the major varieties.

Measurements

In professional basketball, the basket is eighteen inches in diameter and ten feet from the ground. Behind the basket is a board which is six-foot by three-foot in size. In men’s basketball, the ball weight twenty-two ounces and has a circumference of twenty-nine point five inches. Women’s basketballs weigh twenty ounces with a circumference twenty-eight point five. Around the basket, on the court, is a line known as the Three Point Line. This line is twenty-two foot from the basket. In NBA a court measures ninety-four feet by fifty-feet, and in high-school it is slightly smaller at eight-four by fifty. FIBA (International Basketball Association), which governs the Olympics, uses the metric system and is twenty-eight meters by fifteen.

Positions

Each member of a team has a specific role. These roles are: Point Guard; Shooting Guard; Small Forward; Power Forward and Centre. The Point Guard guides the ball form one member to the next. He is often the fastest member, roaming up and down the court. The Shooting Guard takes as many three-point shots as he can. Small Forward will often cut in to make slam dunks and two-point shots. Power Forward is the main defensive player, often staying under or near the home basket. Centre is an all-rounder, often moving between offensive and defensive positions.

Points

If a player scores inside this line, then they are awarded two points. If they score outside this line, they are awarded three points. If a player manages to get the ball inside the hoop without throwing it, this is known as a Slam Dunk. A Slam Dunk scores two points and is often a way of showing off one’s skills on the court. A Free Throw is awarded for fouls, and is a penalty shoot out. It is taken from fifteen feet outside the basket and award one point for every successful throw. The number of free throws is dependent on the referee who will decide based on the manner of the foul.

Uniform

A standard uniform for all varieties of basketball is the jersey, shorts and sneakers, usually sporting a team colour and symbol and a player number and name.

Time

In the NBA (National Basketball Association [America]) a game is divided into four quarters of twelve minutes each. College basketball uses two halves of twenty minutes, and high-schools last eight minutes a quarter. Most games take a fifteen minute hiatus at the half-way point. Overtime can be awarded in special circumstances if the end score is a draw.

Tips

At home, there are many ways to practice your skills. Here are a few useful pieces of advice.

Practice At Home

Try moving the ball in circles around you and between your legs while you stand still. This improves your hand-to-ball co-ordination, which is key in-game. Try to practice with the ball while you’re not looking. Close your eyes or keep your head in the air. When you’re in-game you won’t be able to look at the ball, you have to look ahead, at the other players, at your own team, at the basket.

Ground Yourself

Stay low. The lower you are to the ground the harder it is for the opposing team to take the ball off you, and the easier it is for you to manoeuvre into positive territory.

Steps

Count your steps. Make this a constant habit. If you move more than three steps with the ball in your hand this is known as Travelling, and is a foul. So get used to counting and make sure you master the art of dribbling.

Shooting

When shooting, make sure you utilize your finger tips. Don’t throw from the hand, throw from the tips and snap your elbow and follow through after the ball leaves your hand. This gives it power and precision.

Passing

When passing the ball, either shoot form the chest for a short, sharp pass, or bounce it on the ground for a longer, arcing shot. Be mindful of your opponent and where they are on the court. Judge which pass is best, or whether you should dribble on for another few steps.

Feign

Sometimes it is better to feign. This is where you will go to pass the ball or take a shoot, but then suddenly change tactic and do something else. This can confuse your opponents and open up a vital spot on the court. However, don’t overdo it. You don’t want to become predictable.

Streetball

Streetball is a variation of basketball. It is typically far less structured, has no referee and can be played on any make-shift court. Streetball often has no time-limit, instead the first team to reach a certain pre-defined score wins. As in Tennis, there must be a two point lead over the other team, so Streetball games can go on for a very long time and require a lot of fitness to keep up with.

Olympics

Basketball can be played at the Olympics for both men and women. Olympic rules vary slightly to the NBA. Quarters are only ten minutes long, time-outs are one-minute long with two in the first half and three in the second, the three-point line is closer to the basket, you are only allowed five fouls and there are no zone-defence rules.
Basketball, whatever variety you play, is a fun, team-orientated game. Whether you just want to play around on the street, go in for the NBA, or make it at the Olympics, there’s something for everyone, men and women alike. It’s quick, active and highly-skilled. Just remember to practice, be patient, don’t injure yourself, and have fun! So grab a ball, get a few friends together, and shoot some hoops.

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