The court is divided into two main equal sections by the mid-court line. If the offensive team puts the ball into action behind the mid-court line, the team has ten seconds to get the ball over the mid-court line. If the team is not able to get the ball over the mid-court within 10 seconds, then the defense gets the ball automatically. Once the offensive team is able to get the ball over the mid-court line, the players of offensive team can no longer possess the ball in the area in back of the line. If the team possesses, the defense is awarded the ball. 

The team who has the ball at the given moment is called the offense and the other one is called the defense. The defense tries to steal the ball, challenge shots, deflect the passes, and acquire the rebounds.

The ball is supposed to be advanced (moved) down the court towards the basket by either being shot or passing to teammates or dribbling the ball. Each team is assigned a basket or a goal to defend. This means that the other basket is their scoring basket. The ball must stay within the court’s boundary; the last team to touch the ball before it goes out of boundary losses the possession. The ball is said to be out of boundary when it touches a boundary line, or any player or any object that is out of the boundary. At halftime, the team switches the goal posts. The game begins with one player from either team at center court. The ball is tossed by a referee between the two teams when the game starts. The player that gets his hands on the ball will tip it to a teammate. This is called a tip-off. In addition to stealing the ball from a player in other team, there are other ways for a team to get the ball and one such way is if the other team commits a foul or violates any rule.

Each game is divided into several sections. All levels have two halves and each half is twenty minutes long. In high school and below, the halves are divided into 8 (and sometimes 6) minute quarters. There is a gap of several minutes between halves whereas gaps between quarters are relatively short. If the score is tied at the end of regulation, then overtime periods of various lengths are played until a winner emerges.


For FIBA and NBA


  • Instead of halves, they have 4 quarters
  • Quarters are 10 and 12 minutes long respectively
  • 15 minutes are allowed for a half-time break. Overtime periods are 5 minutes in length.
  • Substitutions are unlimited but can only be done when playing is stopped.
  • A limited number of time-outs, clock stoppages can be requested by a coach for a short meeting with the players. These meetings generally last only up to a minute (100 seconds in the NBA).


Court Dimensions

A regular basketball court in international games is 91.9 ft in length (28 m) and 49.2 (15 m) feet in width. In NBA the court is 94 ft (28.6 m) by 50 ft (15.24 m) on the other hand under FIBA the court is minutely smaller, measuring 28 m (92 ft) by 49 ft (15 m). The basket hoops are always conventionally 10 ft (3.0 m) above the floor. In amateur basketball games, court sizes vary widely.

Height: The height of the indoor court till the roof above the floor is specified by each sport’s governing body. Badminton court requires an open height of 9.1m for international competition. In general a basketball court should have a minimum clearance (open area towards the roof) of 25 ft (7.7m), even though a height of at least 27 ft (8.23m) is recommended.

Court length 94 ft (28.65 m) 91.86 ft (28 m)
Court width 50 ft (15.24 m) 49.21 ft (15 m)
Rim height 10 ft (3.05m) Same As NBA
Restricted arc radius 4 ft(1.22 m) 4.10 ft (1.25 m)
Center circle diameter 12 ft (3.66 m) 11.81 ft (3.6 m)
3-point line distance from the basket 23.75 ft
22 ft in corner (7.24 m
6.70 m in corner)
22.15 ft
21.65 ft in corner (6.75 m
6.60 m in corner)
Key (shaded lane or
restricted area) width
16 ft (4.88 m) 16.08 ft (4.9 m)
Free-throw line distance from point on the floor directly below the backboard 15 ft (4.57 m) 15.09 ft (4.6 m)

Center circle: This is a marked circular area in the center of the court. Only 2 players are permitted to enter this area prior to the tipoff - the players contesting the jump ball.

Three-point line: The three-point line is the line which separates the two-point area from the three-point area and any shot taken beyond this line in the three-point area leads to 3 baskets/goals/points but if the shooting player steps on the line only 2 points will be counted.

The distances to the three-point line from the center of the basket are as follows:

21.65 ft (6.60 m) to 22.15 ft (6.75 m): FIBA

22 ft (6.71 m) to 23.75 ft (7.24 m): NBA

Perimeter: The perimeter is the area outside the free throw lane along with inside the three-point line.

Low post area: The low post area is defined as the ones that are closest to the basket but outside of the free throw lane. The area is fundamentally strategic in basketball.

Key: Key is the painted area beneath the basket- the free throw lane which is fundamentally used to prevent players from staying under the opponent’s basket for longer durations. For the NBA key should be 16 ft (4.9 m) wide and should be 15 ft (4.6 m) from the backboard. A circle is made around the free-throw line whose radius is 6 ft (1.8 m). This circle is used for jump ball instances similar to centre circle. Two 6” hash lines which is 3 ft from the free throw lane line and 5 ft 8” from the free throw line shows the lower defensive box which is linked to the restricted area. For FIBA the key is a rectangle which is 4.9 m wide and 5.8 m long. Earlier it was a trapezoid of 3.7 m (12 ft) width at the free-throw line and 6 m (19 ft 6.25”) at the end line.

Restricted area arc: It is a semi-circular arc around the area which is directly beneath the basket. Members of the defending team cannot draw charging fouls in this area. According to NBA, the restricted arc has a radius of 4 ft (1.22 m) from below the center of the basket. The FIBA adopted the NBA's restricted area arc with a marginally wider radius of 1.25 m (4 ft 1.2 “).

Other lines: 2 lines are drawn on each sideline, 28 ft from each end line; which specify the extent of the coaching box – where a coach can remain and the bench.

On the half-court line of NBA floors two lines are extending outside the playing area specifying the place where substitutes can stay before they can come into the playing area.


Scoring Rules (73%)


  • Whenever a team makes a basket, it is awarded with two points and the ball goes to the other team. If a basket (or field goal) is made outside of the three-point line, then that basket is also worth three points.


  • A one-point shot can be earned when shooting from the foul line after a foul is made.


  • A free throw is also worth one point. Free throws are awarded to a team only according to some formats which involve: the number of fouls committed and/or the type of foul committed.


  • Any other type of foul will not result into a free throw being awarded until a certain number of fouls have been accumulated during a half (half of the time of game). Once that right number is reached, then the player who was fouled is awarded with a '1-and-1' opportunity. If he makes his first free throw, he gets to attempt a second free throw then. If he misses the first shot, the ball is live on the rebound.


NOTE: A rebound is ascribed to a team when it gains possession of the ball after any missed shot/basket that is not cleared by any single player (e.g., bounced directly off the rim of the hoop of basket out of bounds). 


Fouls and Violations 


Personal fouls: An attempt to illegally disadvantage the opponent through certain types of physical contact is called a personal foul. These are mostly committed by defensive players; nevertheless, they can still be committed by offensive players as well. These include any type of illegal physical contact, which are:

  • Pushing
  • Hitting
  • Holding
  • Slapping
  • Illegal pick/screen: when an offensive player is moving.

Screening is when an offensive player puts forward out a limb and makes physical contact with a defender in an attempt to block the path of the defender or make him fall.

Players who are fouled either receive the ball to pass the inbounds again or get one or more free throws if they are fouled shooting, depending on whether the shot was successful or not. These are called personal foul penalties.

Personal Foul penalties:

  • 3 free throws are awarded if the player has done a foul while shooting for a 3-point goal and he misses the shot but he/she makes the goal anyway, he/she is awarded with one free throw. Thus, he/she can score four points this way.
  • Inbounds- The ball is given to the team the foul was committed upon, if fouled while not shooting. The team gets the ball at the nearest side (or baseline) out of the bounds, and have only 5 seconds to pass the ball onto the court back.
  • One & one- If the team committing the foul makes 7 or more fouls in the game, then the player who was fouled is awarded with one free throw. If he is able to make the first shot, he is awarded with another free throw.

For NBA, if the team exceeds 4 fouls in NBA– the opposing team is awarded 1-2 throws on all subsequent non-shooting fouls for that period.

  • In case team committing the foul has 10 or more fouls in, then the fouled player receives 2 free throws.

There are various other categories of fouls like:

  1. Technical fouls, which are charged for violations of several rules which include failure to properly record a player in the scorebook, or for unsportsmanlike conduct. It is about the manners of the game. Foul language, obscene gestures, and even arguing can be considered as a technical foul. It can be committed by either a player of the coach.

These fouls result in 1-2 free throws, which may be taken by any of the five players of the team on the court at the moment. Repetition of technical fouls can result in disqualification of the team.

         2. A blatant foul involving any kind of physical contact that is either with no reason or excessive to steal the ball is called an intentional foul, which according to              NBA is a flagrant foul

This foul result into free throws and the offense retains the possession of the ball after the free throws.

        3. In FIBA, a foul resulting in expulsion is called a disqualifying foul, while in leagues other than NBA, such a foul is known as flagrant.

        4. Charging, a foul that is committed when an offensive player pushes or runs over a defensive player. 

As a result, the ball is given to the team that the foul was committed upon, here the defensive team. 

        5. Blocking is an illegal personal contact resulting from a defender not establishing position in time to prevent an opponent's move towards the basket.



  1. It is a violation to lift or drag one's pivot foot without dribbling the ball, to carry it, or to hold the ball with both hands then resume dribbling.
  2. The ball shall not be kicked nor be hit with the fist. In case the violation is committed by offense it results in loss of possession; in the case of defense, shot clock is reset and the possession shifts to offensive team out of boundary.
  3. Walking or Travelling- There is confinements on the steps a player may take without dribbling – i.e. an extra step than 'a step and a half' without dribbling the ball is called travelling. Also moving the pivot foot (the one which stays on ground after lifting the other for next step) once the player has stopped dribbling is travelling.
  4. Carrying or palming- This violation occurs when the player dribbling continues to dribble the ball after letting the ball to come to rest by putting a hand under the ball or gripping the ball in either one or both the hands. It is also referred to as palming.
  5. Double Dribble- Dribbling the ball while both hands are on the ball at the same time or picking up the dribble and then dribbling again a violation known as double dribble. It also happens when a player touches the ball with both hands which stops the dribble and the player then starts dribbling again.
  6. Held ball- It occurs when two or more players of opposing teams gains possession of the ball at the same time. As a result, the referee stops the game and awards the ball to one of the team on a rotating basis. 
  7. Goaltending- If a defensive player interferes in the midst of a shot while the ball is on the downwards trajectory towards the basket as well as on the way up after it touches the backboard; or while the ball is in the cylinder above the rim, it is called goaltending and as a result the shot counts. Goaltending when done by defensive player, the basket is awarded whereas if an offensive player commits it, the basket is cancelled. But, in either case the possession of the ball is given to the defensive team.
  8. Backcourt violation- Once the offensive player has brought the ball ahead of the mid-court line, he/she cannot go back across the line while he/she has the ball. In case they do go back, the ball is awarded to the other team to pass inbounds.
  9. Time restrictions- 5 seconds are the allowed time for a player passing the ball inbounds. If he/she does not, then the possession of the ball shifts to the other team. A player cannot posses the ball for more than 5 seconds when being closely guarded. In some states and at certain levels of the game, there is a shot-clock restriction where-in the player requires trying a shot within a given time frame.

According to FIBA and NBA:

  • 8 seconds – to take the ball past halfway,
  • 24 seconds - before attempting a shot
  • 5 seconds - hold the ball while closely guarded
  • 3 seconds- for remaining in the restricted area known as the free-throw lane.