A Beginner’s Guide in Understanding Basketball

basic basketball - A Beginner’s Guide in Understanding Basketball

Most of us grew up to watching basketball games on our living room television or playing basketball in our neighborhood. Needless to say, basketball is one of the most popular sports in the United States.

If you have just recently earned an interest in learning how to play the game, don’t be overwhelmed with its many rules and basketball-jargon terminologies. Below is your easy guide to understanding the basic rules and positions of basketball.

Understanding Basketball

According to history, basketball was invented by Dr. James Naismith, Canadian physical education student and an instructor at the YMCA Training School in Springfield, USA in 1981. The game gained its popularity over a short period of time and has rapidly spread all over the world. The International Basketball Federation was established in 1932 by Argentina, Czechoslovakia, Greece, Latvia, Romania, Italy, Switzerland and Portugal. In 1936, basketball was introduced to the Olympics.

understanding basketball - A Beginner’s Guide in Understanding Basketball

So how do you play this game?

This game should be played between two teams, with each team composed of five players. The main objective of the game is to shoot the ball into the opponent’s basketball hoop to score a point. Here is a list of more interesting games.

Here are some of the basketball lingoes that you should know:

  • Box out or block out: Using the body to shield or block an opponent in order to gain better position to grab a rebound.
  • Alley-oop: Is an offensive play where one player throws the ball into the vicinity of the rim and another teammate jumps and catches it and dunks the ball into the basket.
  • Boards: Rebounds
  • Bury a jumper: To make an especially good jump shot.
  • Hoop or hole: A basket
  • T: Technical foul
  • Walk: To travel
  • Nothing but net: A shot where the ball goes directly in the basket without touching the backboard or rim.
  • Take it to the hole: When the player with the ball dribbles and drives directly towards the basket in an attempt to make a field goal, or score.

What Are The Basic Rules and Regulations of the Game?

The main objective of this game is quiet simple – shoot the ball through the hoop to score a point.

The player gets 2 points if he shots within the three point line while he earns three points if the shot is made from outside the three point line. A free throw, on the other hand, is worth one point. The winner of the game is the team that accumulated the highest points.

You should develop these key skills in playing basketball:

  • Passing
  • Shooting
  • Jump stops
  • Dribbling
  • Pivoting
  • Lay ups
  • Cutting
  • Screening
  • Rebounding
  • Defense

Basketball consists of offense and defense. When any player of the team has the ball, then all the other players from that team are on offense and they must shoot the ball into the opponent’s basket to score points. When the opponent team takes possession of the ball, then all the team members in the first team becomes the defense. They have to stop the offensive team from shooting the ball into their basket.

Rules for the Offense: The player should keep the ball bouncing by using one hand while moving both of his feet. Only one leg is allowed to move if he stops dribbling or touches the ball with just one hand. Pivot foot is the term referred to the other leg that is not moving and the offense player is given only one turn at dribbling. The player gets a “double-dribbling violation” if he restarted his dribble, as a result the opponent team gets the ball. Players are allowed to touch only the top of the ball while dribbling. “Carrying the ball” is tagged if the player touches the bottom of the ball and continues to dribble. If this violation is incurred, the ball is handed over to the opponent. Kicking or hitting the ball with the fist is not allowed.

Rules for the Defense: There is only one major rule for the defense team and that is not to foul. They should not have any physical contact with the opponents such as holding, pushing, striking or shouldering in any way. Player who violates this rule for the first time is called a foul while second violation is called for disqualification until the next goal is scored. The player is suspended from the game when he displays his intention to injure an opponent.

Understanding Player Positions in Basketball

The five players that compose the team have specific positions and responsibilities. The positions – which consist of two forwards, two guards and one center – call for different physical skills and requirements.

  • Point Guard – Though not primarily a shooter, point guard should be the best passer and ball handler of the team. He should be the fastest player in the team as his major role is to take charge of the team’s offense by controlling the ball. He is responsible for making sure that the ball is handed to the right player at the right time. Usually the shortest and fastest player on the team is selected as the point guard.

Click here for the best college point guards of the last 30 years.

  • Shooting Guard – Generally taller than a point guard but shorter than a small forward. Though he does not have to be necessarily great at ball handling however he should be the best perimeter shooter of the team. His main responsibility is shots on offense. He also guards the best perimeter player of the opponent team on defense.


  • Small Forward – He should be strong and aggressive; sufficiently tall to blend it up inside yet sufficiently coordinated to handle the ball and shoot well. His main responsibility is to score points via dribble penetration and cuts to the basket.


  • Power Forward – Should be at least a little bulky or muscled and he must be able to catch passes and hit shots near the basket. He must also be a good rebounder and quick enough to move around the lane on offense and defense. A power forward plays offensively with his back to the basket.


  • Center – He should be able to post up offensively and must know how to find the open player in the paint and grab offensive rebounds. Centers are usually the tallest player on the team.

If you want to know who are the best NCAA bastketball announcers of all time, click here.

Related posts