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Basketball is a complicated yet simple game. If you're a youth player, parent of a youth basketball players, or coaching youth basketball, then you should have a good understanding of the game and the rules.
Knowing the rules of basketball will help you or your youth player(s) practice correctly and build a much better foundation to be a better basketball player. I'll try to explain the general rules and the offensive and defensive "do's" and "dont's" so that you can make sure you're practicing correctly.
General Basketball Rules
There are a few key pieces of equipment that you need to play a full competitive game of basketball.
Team and Objective
- The Basketball - A round ball that bounces (usually about chest high if just "dropped"), is usually orange in color, and has "grooves" throughout it for grip. The ball is slightly different in size for youth/intermediate basketball, men's basketball, and women's basketball.
- Two Baskets/Basketball Hoops - The basketball hoop is the target the ball must go through to score points. It consists of a backboard (the large rectangular area behind the rim. The rim is the round, open cylinder that the net is attached to and the ball must go through to score points. The net is just that, a "net" with large openings sinced it's weaved together, somewhat resembling a chain-link fence pattern.
There are two basketball "goals" (hoops) set on opposite sides of the court...
- A Basketball Court - The area where the game is played. The court is a large rectangular area: The long sides of the court are called the "sidelines" and the shorter sides, the baselines. These lines determine what is "in-bounds" and "out-of-bounds". "In-bounds" is the area of the court where normal play can take place, where as "out-of-bounds" is the area in which, if the ball or a player with the ball crosses, play stops. The team who went out-of-bounds loses possession of the ball to the other team. Also note that in-bounds is everything within the out-of-bounds lines (the sidelines and the baselins). If the ball or any part of a player with the ball touches the line or crosses it, then it is considered out-of-bounds and possession of the ball is lost.
The court is split in half by the center court line, exactly halfway from one baseline to the other. Each "half" has it's own basketball hoop located in the center of the baseline, with the backboard and rim being slightly in front of the baseline.
These halves also have a key, the rectangle that extends from the baseline to in front of the rime to the free-throw line, and a three-point line, a "half-circle" that is a certain distance from the basket indicating where made baskets give you an extra point (3 points as opposed to 2).
- Jerseys - The sports clothing worn during the game. The top is actually the jersey, but the jersey and shorts worn are collectively the jersey. The top part of the jersey is a sleeveless shirt, long enough to be tucked into the shorts, and has a unique number for each player on a team. In competitive play, each team will have different jerseys than the other. One team will have a light jersey (the home team), which is usually white. The jerseys for all the players on one team will be identical, except for the number, which is unique for each player. This helps to record player stats, as well establish who has committed a foul or who is shooting free throws. The other team will have a dark jersey, with all players having a unique number on that team but the rest of the jersey being identical.
One of the random basketball rules is that a players jersy must be tucked into their shorts at all times while on the court. I'm not sure on this, but I belive part of it is to help prevent injury. If a player's hand or finger gets caught in the jersery it could cause an injury.
This also brings up another random basketball rule...no jewelry is to be worn during a game either. No chains, necklaces, earrings, etc. Again, this helps prevent injury for both the player wearing the jewelry (earring could be ripped out, get neck caught up in chain, etc.) and the players around them, so that they don't get any of their body parts caught in the jewelry.
Scoring: A little more on how to win the game.
- The Teams - Basketball is a team sport, played by five players on each team. Each team will ALWAYS have 5 players on the court at one time, so there are 10 players total on the court.
- No matter what level of play you're at, the basketball rules always state that the objective of each team is to score more points than the other team by the end of the game (the game is timed). To score points, the basketball must go through the hoop on that teams's half of the court. If a defensive player (their team isn't in possession of the basketball) accidentally knocks the basketball into the opposing teams basket, the points count for the opposing team.
The basketball rules include awarding teams with a different amount of points for types of baskets scored. When the ball goes through the hoop, the team who's basket it goes through is awarded points. These are called "made shots", "field gols", "baskets", and "scores" (all pretty mean the same thing.
- 2-Point Field Goals - Most baskets are worth 2 points. These are those baskets that are made during a regular play in which the defense is allowed to contend the shot. These regular shots are called field goals if the opposing team is allowed to try to stop the player from making the basket. If the field goal is made when the player jumps from within the 3-point line (a half-circle that is a certain distance away from the hoop, farther away than most normal shots are taken), then the team who's side the basket was made on is awarded two points.
- 3-Point Field Goals (3-Pointers) - If the Field Goal is made when a player shoots the ball from behind the 3-point line, then their team is awarded three points instead of two.
- 1-Point Free Throws - A free throw is a shot in which a player from the other team is not allowed to be in front of the person shooting the ball and can't try to prevent them from making the shot. These are shot from directly in front of the basket, at the free throw line (the top of the key). Free throws are awarded to a player or team for a number of reasons, all of which involve the other team breaking one of the basketball rules.
Coming In the Very Near Future
Now that you understand basketball rules better, check out some highlights!
Check out some skill tips now that you understand the rules of basketball better.