The Basics

Two teams of five players are on the court at one time. Teams usually line up with two guards, two forwards, and one center. All players contribute on offense and defense. Coaches may substitute players only when the clock is stopped.

Opinion Graphic

Center – Plays underneath the basket. He or she is typically the tallest player on the team. The center’s main tasks are to gain position under the basket so as to best get “rebounds,” take shots, and on defense block shots by opposing players.

Forwards – Generally play along the court baselines on either side of the hoop. Along with the center, they are the team’s main rebounders. Offensively they shoot from both outside and in close to the hoop.

Guards – As the main ballhandlers, they are typically the best “dribblers,” and passers on the team. They are responsible for bringing the ball up the court and passing it to the open players for scoring opportunities. The point guard calls the offensive plays and controls the tempo of the game. The shooting guard generally plays near the top of the “key,” and is often relied upon to take the three-point shot.

Basketball Court Quiz

  1. A ______ second violation is called when an offensive player without the ball cannot stand in the free throw lane under their basket for more than three seconds.
  2. The ______ second rule states that a player holding the ball has five seconds to either pass, dribble or shoot.
  3. Players have ______ seconds to inbound the ball. Also, the player inbounding cannot step on the baseline or sideline with the ball.
  4. The ______ second rule states that after the ball is “inbounded,” offensive players have 10 seconds to move the ball from the “back-court” across the half-court line (also known as the mid-court line) into the front-court.
  5. An offensive player with the ball cannot cross back over the ______ line once he or she has advanced the ball past mid-court.
  6. A ______ line violation is called when a free throw shooter crosses the free throw line before the ball hits the rim.


Control Dribble


  • Dribble with a purpose. GO somewhere (towards the basket) with your dribble.
  • Know what you want to do with the ball (shoot or pass) before you pick up your dribble.


  • Automatically start your dribble when you receive a pass. Be shooter ready or Get into triple-threat position (shoot, pass or dribble) first and evaluate
  • Be fancy when simple will do
  • Force the dribble into defensive traffic. It’s better to pull up too early than too late.


  1. Control Dribble – Use when being guarded closely. Dribble close to the body and low (knee level). Stay low and protect the ball with your free arm.
  2. Speed Dribble – Use when sprinting down the court. Dribble ball higher (just below your ribcage) and push it out in front.
  3. Crossover Dribble – Used to change direction. Scoop the ball to the other hand and continue the dribble. Advance on a cross-step forward (step across your body) as your body turns to protect the ball.
  4. Pull-Back (Escape) Dribble – Use when the dribbler gets into traffic and needs to back up/out. Dribbling hand moves in front of the ball and dribbles the ball back toward the body. All the while, the dribbler is shuffling backward to escape the defender.


A passed ball can move faster than even the quickest player.


  • Pass AWAY FROM the defender
  • Use ball or pass-fakes before passing
  • Make the easy pass. Don’t get fancy when the situation doesn’t call for it
  • Use bounce passes into the low post
  • Make passes short and crisp
  • Use peripheral vision – keep all options open


  • Announce who you’re passing to. Be coy and use pass-fakes
  • Float your passes. Put some ZIP on them
  • Jump and then look for passing options
  • Throw to voice


  • Every offensive player without the ball should be moving around the court with his or her hands up
  • Use outstretched hands to give the passer a target to pass to
  • Move to the ball to meet the pass
  • Try to catch the ball with both hands. Keep your eye on the ball; LOOK the ball into your hands



Defensive player is trying to stop the person he or she is guarding from receiving a pass.


On-Ball Defense

Defensive player is trying to stop the player with the ball from passing or shooting.


  • Stay low. Keep knees bent. Think “NOSE ON THE BALL!”
  • On denial defense, stay between your player and the ball. When on-ball defense, stay between your player and the basket.
  • On denial defense, keep one foot close to or on the passing lane (line between the player with the ball and your player) so that you are able to see both the ball and your player.
  • Don’t allow penetration up the middle. Force all drives toward the baseline.
  • Keep your eyes focused on your player’s belly and hips, the only area he or she can’t fake with. Where they go, he or she goes.
  • Talk! Don’t be shy! Let your teammates know what you’re seeing. Communicate.



A rebound (or board) is the retrieval of a missed shot.

  1. Always assume EVERY shot will be a miss. Work hard to establish good position under the basket.
  2. Most missed shots bounce off to the opposite side of the basket.
  3. If the ball is shot from long distance, the rebound will bounce back long.
  4. On defense, always make contact with your player (block out) and stay low. Keep your hands up at all times.
  5. On offense, crash the gaps (open lanes) to the basket. If blocked out, spin or roll off the defender in order to get by him or her.
  6. JUMP TO THE BALL! Don’t try to reach out and gather it in.
  7. Keep the ball high after securing it. Rip the ball down to chin level and protect it with elbows out.
  8. The offensive player with the best chance to grab a rebound is the shooter. He or she knows earlier than anyone how the shot may miss (short, long, left, or right), and very few defenders do a good job of blocking out the shooter.



Basketball Referees watch for the following:

  • Every player has a right to the spot he or she is in on the floor and opponents cannot move that player from the spot with illegal physical contact.
  • A player cannot use hands, arms, or legs to stop a player from moving. Rather, player must move their body between the opposing player and where they are going; forcing the opposing player to change direction. (Place yourself between your opponent and the basket)

Personal Foul – Called when illegal body contact occurs between opposing players. Results in either a player taking free throws or a team losing possession of the ball.

  • Blocking – bumping and physically slowing down a moving player
  • Holding – grabbing or restricting a player’s movement by using the hands or arms
  • Illegal Screen – illegal contact made when the screener (offensive player) is not completely set (stopped)
  • Rebounding -illegal contact with a player who is in proper position and is trying to secure a rebound
  • Charging (Player Control) – offensive player runs into a defensive player who is already set in position.

Charging – Called when a player moving with the ball runs into a defender who has established a set guarding position. Possession of the ball goes to the defense.

Blocking – A defensive player may not stand in the way of a dribbling player unless that defender has established a legal guarding (stance) position.

Technical Foul – Called against any player or coach for unsportsmanlike conduct such as swearing or arguing with a referee. A technical foul awards the other team at least two free throws and possession of the ball. If a player or coach receives two technical fouls, he or she is removed from the game.

Three-second Violation – An offensive player without the ball may not stand in the free-throw lane under their basket for more than three seconds. When called, possession of the ball goes to the opposing team.

Five-second Violation – A closely guarded player holding the ball has five seconds to either shoot, pass or dribble. When called, the possession of the ball goes to the opposing team.

Ten-second Violation – After an “inbound” in the backcourt, offensive players have ten seconds to move the ball over the mid-court/half-court line into their “front-court.” When called, possession of the ball goes to the defending team.

Backcourt Violation (Over-and-Back) – An offensive player with the ball who has advanced into the “front-court” over the mid-court line may not return to the “backcourt” with possession of the ball. Doing so results in a turnover, possession goes to the defending team.

Inbound Violation – Players have five seconds to inbound the ball. If unable to do so the ball is awarded to the other team. Also, the player inbounding the ball cannot step on the or over the baseline or sideline with the ball.

Foul Line Violation – The free throw shooter cannot cross the free throw line until the ball hits the rim. When called, the ball is awarded to the opposite team.

Traveling Violation – Called when a player with the ball takes too many steps while holding the ball or moves their pivot foot before starting their dribble.

Illegal Dribble Violation – Once a player stops dribbling, he or she must shoot or pass the ball before dribbling again. Also, players may not have both hands on the ball at the same time while dribbling.

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