Playing the game

Basketball is played by two teams of 5 players each. 

The aim of each team is to score by throwing the ball into the opponents’ basket and to prevent the other team from scoring.

The game starts with a “jump ball” at the centre of the court. Once the ball is in play it can be passed, thrown, rolled or dribbled in any direction. Both passing and dribbling are used to move the ball into a scoring position.


Two points are awarded for a score from the field. One point is awarded for a goal by a “free throw.”

Individual skills

Passing and Catching. 

The players can use either one or both hands to control, pass or shoot the ball. They must not hit the ball with their fist or deliberately play the ball with their foot.


Players can dribble once each time they get the ball. The dribble ends when they touch the ball with both hands or allow it to rest on one or both hands. Having ended a dribble, players cannot begin another dribble until they have taken a shot or another player has played the ball.


Once a player has stopped moving, he is allowed to step once or more in any direction with one foot, while pivoting on the other. The pivot foot must stay on the floor. Players cannot change the foot on which they are pivoting.

A player who receives the ball while standing can choose which foot to pivot on.

A player who catches the ball with one foot in the air can land on that foot, and this foot is now the pivot foot.


There are two ways to stop while receiving a pass or while ending a dribble.

  • Jump stop: receive the ball during a jump and stop moving while landing on both feet.
  • Stride stop: the player uses a full pace (one step with each foot) to come to a stop.

Do’s and Don’ts

  • A player is not allowed to take more than two steps while holding the ball, except when he is dribbling.
  • Basketball is considered to be a non contact sport.
  • In school basketball we do not grab or hit the ball out of our opponents’ hands.


  • A personal foul is a foul that involves contact with an opponent.
  • The foul is awarded against the player who’s mainly responsible for creating the contact.
  • A player who has committed 5 fouls must leave the court.
  • The ball is given to the other team.


Foul on a player taking a shot:

If the goal is made, it counts.

  • Also, one free throw is awarded.
  • If the shot misses: 
  • Two free throws shall be awarded.

Out of bounds

The ball is out of bounds:

  • When it touches a player who is touching the floor on or outside the boundary line.
  • Or when it touches an object or the floor outside or on the boundary line.
  • The ball is given to the opponent team. The player throwing in must be standing         out of bounds, behind the boundary line and near where the ball left the court. He must play the ball towards a teammate.

Held Ball

A held ball is declared when two players of opposing teams have one or both hands firmly on the ball, so that neither of them can gain control without using force.

  • The ball is brought back in play with a “ Jump Ball”

The court



Two teams of five players each are on the court at all times, and everyone plays both offense and defence. Players are usually assigned to a unique position. 

  • Center: Usually the tallest player. On offense, receives ball and shoots close to the basket. Serves as the last line of defence, blocking opponents’ shots and rebounding their misses.
  • Power forward: Tall player. Frequently rebounds, especially on defence. Has a decent shot from short-range and scores many points by rebounding missed shots and quickly shooting them.
  • Small forward: Very athletic player. Aggressively attacks the defence by driving and cutting towards the basket, but also has a consistent outside shot.
  • Shooting guard: A defender with an eye for stealing the ball. On offense, serves as the secondary ball handler and sharpshooter. Has the ability to convert shots from three-point range.
  • Point guard: Leader of offense who uses passing and dribbling skills to set up teammates for open shots. 
© Maarten Vermeulen 2017