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How can I teach myself to play basketball?

How can I teach myself to play basketball?

Basketball is an extremely popular sport worldwide and is very accessible to anyone who wants to play. Read on to learn more about the sport of basketball, including the rules, number of players, and how to play the game.


Basketball is a team sport that pits two teams against each other. Five players are on the floor for each team in a regulation basketball game. The five main positions are point guard, shooting guard, small forward, power forward, and center. There are also typically players on the bench that may be substituted into the game at any point.

How to Play

The objective of basketball is to score more points than the opposing team. Points are scored by shooting a ball into a hoop elevated 10 feet off the floor. A three-point line that surrounds the basket at a distance of 23 feet 9 inches separates the value of shots made. Any shot made inside the three-point line is worth two points, while any shot made outside the three-point line is worth three points. Foul shots, which are given out as a punishment for certain fouls, are worth one point and are taken from the free-throw line.

While the offense is tasked with scoring points, the opposing team tries to prevent scores by playing defense. Players defend by guarding the opposing players and trying to prevent them from making a shot. Defending players will attempt to steal the ball, intercept a pass, block a shot, or gather a rebound to change possession.

Game Structure

Basketball games are typically divided into timed intervals, either four quarters or two halves. The typical quarter length is either 10 or 12 minutes, while the typical half length is 20 minutes. At the end of the game, the team with the most points wins.

If the score is tied at the end of regulation, the game will go into overtime. Overtime is a shortened period of play used to break a tie.


There are certain rules that players must follow on both offense and defense in basketball. The two main classifications of rule-breaking in basketball are fouls or violations. Referees will monitor play and call these fouls and violations when they occur.

Players move around the court by dribbling and passing. You are not allowed to carry the ball in your hands and must dribble the ball on the floor while moving. Once you have stopped dribbling, you must either pass the ball to a teammate or take a shot.

Players must stay in bounds at all times. If they step out of bounds while holding the ball, it will result in a turnover to the opposing team.


Fouls are more serious rule infractions than violations. Most fouls revolve around the use of illegal body contact against an opponent. Such fouls include shooting fouls, reach-in fouls, and charging fouls. Some fouls will result in a turnover of possession, while others will result in free throws for the fouled player.

If a player is fouled in the act of shooting, they will be given either one, two, or three free throws. Three free throws are given if the player is fouled in the act of shooting a three-point shot. Two free throws are given if the player is fouled in the act of shooting a two-point shot. One free throw is given when a player makes the shot in which they were fouled while attempting. The points from the shot count and the fouled player is given the opportunity for an extra point.


Violations are less serious rule infractions that result in a turnover of possession. Common violations include shot clock violations, traveling, and double dribbles. Shot clock violations result from when a team is unable to hit the rim on a shot before the shot clock has expired. Traveling is called when a player carries the ball without dribbling. Double dribbles occur when players stop their dribble by picking it up, and then continue to dribble afterward.