- Basketball is played on a court with a basket at each end which is made up of a metal hoop with a net hanging from it.
The aim is to throw the ball through the basket of the other team and stop the other team from doing the same to you.
- When a player throws the ball toward the basket, it is called a “shot”. A shot can score between one and three points.
Each team has five players on the court.
- Players cannot carry the ball across the court. Instead, they have to pass and dribble the ball towards the basket.
If a player stops dribbling the ball and continues moving, he/she commits a violation called “travelling”.
- If the ball hits the backboard but does not enter the basket, the opposite team will try to “rebound”.
If a player is too aggressive, the referee may call a “foul”. The opposite team gets a “free throw”.
- The game ends when time is up. The winner is the team with the most points.
In the event of a draw, teams play extra time to decide the winner.
Why is it called basketball? There aren’t any real baskets, are there?
True, but when the game was invented there were real baskets. People started by using peach baskets but it was too difficult to get the ball back so they changed.
Any other fruity connections?
The ball is orange! After the 1950s, anyway. Before that it was brown.
And when was the game invented?
In 1891, by a Canadian who was living in the US. Does that make it a Canadian or American invention?
Not sure. But that can’t be the first time anybody played a basketball sort of sport, can it?
You’re right! A similar game was played for thousands of years in North and Central America. Many Mayan pyramids have courts for it. You wouldn’t want to lose one of those games. In some cases, the losing team members were ritually sacrificed!
Ouch! So ... fast forward to modern basketball. When did it become an Olympic sport?
It was first played at the 1936 Olympics. Women’s basketball came later, in 1976.
How long is a basketball game?
It depends on how exciting the game is! Ha! Seriously, an Olympic basketball game has four 10-minute quarters.
Do people only play basketball in the US?
Well, some of the best players in the world play there. But there are great basketball teams all over the world! Spain, Russia, Yugoslavia, Serbia and Greece (to name a few) have all won medals in recent world championships.
Don’t I have to be really tall to play basketball?
To play? No. You don’t have to be really tall. But plenty of basketball players are. The tallest professional player in the world is 2.36 m tall! The shortest is 1.70 m. But both are successful, so if you love basketball, go for it!