How to Play Basketball – Rules of the Game


Most basketball associations (most notably, the NBA) have their own specific set of rules of play, though all are similar at their core. Here is, more or less, the international standard guidebook for how to play basketball. Two 10′ hoops will be set up at opposite ends of a court. NBA and collegiate standard size is 94′ long (and 50′ wide), though courts (and hoop height) can be shorter, especially for younger players.

Games are played by 2 teams of 5 players each for a total of 1 hour. Collegiate and high school games are divided into 4 10-minute quarters (pros play for 12, and younger players either 6 or 8 minutes). The team with the most points at the end of the game wins.

Game play begins at the mid-court line during a tip off. The ball is then taken by the offense towards a basket through dribbling and passing, while the defense tries to gain possession of the ball (thus becoming the offense). When the team scores they are given 2 points, with the exception of baskets scored from outside the 3-point line, for which they get 3. The other team is then given possession. Play continues like this until halftime, when the teams switch sides.

If at any point in the game a team commits a foul, the other team is awarded free throws. Free throws are worth 1 point each. These shots are taken unguarded from the free-throw line outside of game time. Blocking, charging, hacking and holding are all offenses that carry a free-throw penalty.