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How to Play Basketball – The Ultimate Guide

How to Play Basketball – The Ultimate Guide

Basketball, whether played in the gym, as a pickup game at the park, on a college court, in the WNBA, or in the NBA, is one of the most popular sports in the world. Played by over 450 million people worldwide, the sport started out unassumingly enough and has grown into a powerhouse in the athletic world.

And with global basketball revenue across the WNBA, FIBA, NCAA, and NBA set to cross $13 billion globally, the sport continues to grow in popularity both domestically and in international markets.

But if you are looking to learn how to play basketball, then look no further. Below, in this comprehensive, step-by-step, and detailed article, we are going to review exactly how to play basketball – the ultimate guide to starting out and becoming an expert.

History of the Game of Basketball

Basketball was invented in December of 1891 by Dr. James Naismith.  A Canadian professor of physical education and instructor at the International Young Men’s Christian Association Training School in Springfield, Massachusetts, Dr. Naismith was looking for an activity to keep his class busy and active on a rainy day.

However, in looking for a proper indoor sport, Dr. Naismith sought to find a sport that was both vigorous and one that would keep his students occupied and provide them with a proper level of fitness during the long, cold New England winters.

After sifting through a number of ideas, rejecting many as either too rough or poorly suited for indoor play, Dr. Naismith landed on a game which would require players to pass a ball to teammates and to score points by tossing the ball into peach baskets mounted on an elevated track.

Initially, however, the peach baskets used for the first few games had their bottoms intact.  This meant that the ball had to be manually retrieved after each point scored.  This proved to be a cumbersome requirement and Dr. Naismith quickly removed the bottom of the baskets, allowing for the ball to poked out after each score.

Furthermore, in the original game, the sport was played with a soccer ball.  These soccer balls were made with a set of laces, causing the ball to bounce chaotically and unpredictably.  However, in the original game, the act of dribbling was not set-forth.  Rather, to move the ball forward, players were expected to pass the ball to their teammates.

It was not until 1906 when the peach baskets were finally replaced with metal hoops and a backboard.  Further changes were made, including allowing for enough space for the ball to pass through the hoop and for specialized basketballs to be made for the sport.  These basketballs removed the laces from the exterior and were even approved by Dr. Naismith himself.

And lastly, the baskets were originally nailed to the mezzanine balcony of a playing court.  However, this proved to be quickly impractical as spectators above the balcony would interfere with shots.  As such, the backboard was introduced to help prevent this interference and would allow for rebounding of shots to occur.  

Why is Basketball Called Basketball?

While basketballs popularity took some time and its adoption growing gradually, Dr. James Naismith was tasked with naming the new sport.  However, there are two distinct accounts as to how, and why, basketball is named basketball.

The first, and more popular and likely story, states that Frank Mahan, one of the original players from the first game, approached Dr. Naismith after Christmas break in 1892, asking him what he intended to name the new sport.  Naismith responded that he hadn’t quite thought it through as he was more interested and preoccupied with ensuring the game gains popularity.

Mahan, in his response, suggested naming the new sport Naismith Ball.  Dr. Naismith laughed at the idea, saying that a name like that would kill the game before it could grow in popularity. 

Mahan then suggested, “why not call it basketball?” 

To which Dr. Naismith replied, “We have a basket and a ball, and it seems to me that would be a good name for it.”

The second, and less likely scenario, is that Dr. James Naismith, in writing the original 13 rules of basketball which he had published in The Triangle, a school newspaper, where he wrote “Rules of Basket Ball”, thus giving the new sport its name.

And while Dr. Naismith did indeed publish the original 13 rules of basketball in The Triangle, it is more likely that he had a discussion with another individual regarding the name of the sport.  Regardless, the name stuck and is now well-known across the globe and its popularity has reached heights that not even Dr. Naismith himself could have envisioned.

What Were the Original 13 Rules of Basketball?

The original 13 rules of the game of basketball were published on January 15, 1892, in the Springfield College School newspaper, The Triangle. As set forth by Dr. Naismith, the original rules were as follows.

The ball may be thrown in any direction with one or both hands.

2. The ball may be batted in any direction with one or both hands (never with the fist).

3. A player cannot run with the ball. The player must throw it from the spot on which he catches it, allowance to be made for a man who catches the ball when running at a good speed if he tries to stop.

4. The ball must be held in or between the hands; the arms or body must not be used for holding it.

5. No shouldering, holding, pushing, tripping, or striking in any way the person of an opponent shall be allowed; the first infringement of this rule by any player shall count as a foul, the second shall disqualify him until the next goal is made, or, if there was evident intent to injure the person, for the whole of the game, no substitute allowed.

6. A foul is striking at the ball with the fist, violation of Rules 3,4, and such as described in Rule 5.

7. If either side makes three consecutive fouls, it shall count a goal for the opponents (consecutive means without the opponents in the mean time making a foul).

8. A goal shall be made when the ball is thrown or batted from the grounds into the basket and stays there, providing those defending the goal do not touch or disturb the goal. If the ball rests on the edges, and the opponent moves the basket, it shall count as a goal.

9. When the ball goes out of bounds, it shall be thrown into the field of play by the person first touching it. In case of a dispute, the umpire shall throw it straight into the field. The thrower-in is allowed five seconds; if he holds it longer, it shall go to the opponent. If any side persists in delaying the game, the umpire shall call a foul on that side.

10. The umpire shall be judge of the men and shall note the fouls and notify the referee when three consecutive fouls have been made. He shall have power to disqualify men according to Rule 5.

11. The referee shall be judge of the ball and shall decide when the ball is in play, in bounds, to which side it belongs, and shall keep the time. He shall decide when a goal has been made, and keep account of the goals with any other duties that are usually performed by a referee.

12. The time shall be two 15-minute halves, with five minutes’ rest between.

13. The side making the most goals in that time shall be declared the winner. In case of a draw, the game may, by agreement of the captains, be continued until another goal is made.

Essential Equipment Needed for a Game of Basketball

Before you can get started learning how to play basketball, you will need to ensure that you have all the essential and proper pieces of equipment to get a game started. However, basketball, unlike some other sports, requires very little equipment to get started with a game.

As you will see below, a game of basketball can be started with relatively little equipment and does not take too much gear to get started.

Basketball Hoop

A game of basketball can only be played with an appropriate basketball hoop. In the NBA and NCAA, and for most minor and major leagues, the basketball backboard is rectangular in shape. However, for non-professional games, the shape of the backboard may be oval or a fan-shape. 

Typically, the top of the hoop is 10 feet above the ground and regulation backboards are 6 feet wide by 3.5 feet tall.  All basketball hoops are 18 inches in diameter, allowing for two fully sized basketballs to fit neatly into the hoop at one time.

Furthermore, the inner rectangle on the backboard is 24 inches wide by 18 inches tall and helps a shooter to better determine the proper aim and banking for their layup or jump shot.

Basketball hoops can also come in a wide variety of differing materials. Below are the three main materials that basketball hoops are typically made of.

  • Plastic (Polyethylene, Eco-Composite) – typically seen in low-end or introductory basketball backboards, these backboards are often the cheapest backboard materials and allow for cheaper and more affordable basketball hoops.  However, these backboards often provide the worst bounce and result in a “dead ball” upon contact with the material.
  • Polycarbonate and Acrylic Backboards – the polycarbonate and acrylic backboards are a step above the plastic backboards and provide more rigidity than their plastic backboard counterparts.  They are clear in design and provide a more attractive aesthetic.  And, similar to the plastic backboards, are typically cheaper to produce and are more affordable.
  • Tempered Glass – tempered glass backboards are the most frequently used material in modern basketball backboards and are more desirable due to their rigidity and aesthetic.  Tempered glass backboards are seen as the gold standard in backboards and are oftentimes the most expensive backboards on the market.  However, they provide the best longevity and protection from accidental shattering and breakage.

A Basketball

Similarly, a game of basketball cannot really be enjoyed with a proper basketball. And although, technically, you can play a game of basketball with another circular sports ball, it simply won’t have the same feel, grip, and bounce that basketballs are manufactured to have.

However, there are two main factors that need to be considered before purchasing a basketball. Basketball size and basketball material type. Below, we’ll review both factors to better assist you in making a more informed decision.

Basketball Sizing Guide

Size 3Open Age22.5″ Circumference
Size 55-12 Years Old27.5″ Circumference
Size 6Female Ages: 9+ Male Ages: 9-1228.5″ Circumference
Size 7Male Ages: 12+29.5″ Circumference

Basketball Material Guide

There are three dominant types of basketballs.  These are leather, rubber, and synthetic, often called composite.  You can read more about the three different materials widely found on most basketballs below.

  • Genuine Leather – The professional leagues typically utilize basketballs made of genuine leather and are often the basketballs that are found used at most indoor gyms and basketball leagues. In addition to being the most widely used, leather basketballs are generally the softest and most comfortable material on a ball.  That is also why genuine leather basketballs tend to great grip and are widely chosen for most leagues. However, you don’t want to use a leather basketball for outdoor play. Leather basketballs are meant for indoor use and using a leather basketball outside can lead to wear-and-tear and deterioration of the material quickly due to the hard surface that outdoor courts have.
  • Synthetic or Composite – synthetic, or composite basketballs are by-far the best basketballs for overall grip.  Synthetic basketballs are made of material that look and feel like leather and can be used for both indoor and outdoor play.  Due to the synthetic material of the ball, composite basketballs need little “breakage” and can be used practically out of the box.
  • Rubber – rubber basketballs are generally the most affordable and are a great option for beginners and for outdoor play.  Rubber basketballs generally perform well on asphalt and concrete and provide a great bounce on outdoor surfaces.  However, rubber basketballs tend to have less grip, as compared to the alternatives.

Athletic Gear

We’ve covered the full list of what to buy when first getting started in basketball. However, the last and final items you will need to begin a game of basketball are athletic gear. And while you can opt for the full list, if you are just looking to get started, then the below three are the essentials to start.

Basketball Shorts or Pants

If you want to play a game of basketball, then you are going to need a proper pair of shorts or athletic pants.  Showing up to the court in kakis or dress pants simply won’t cut it and will likely leave you playing at a subpar level.

Regular athletic or cotton shorts are perfect for a game of basketball. However, as you begin to play more seriously and more competitively, you should consider investing in more basketball-specific shorts which have moisture-wicking properties and technology to provide you with more comfort and breathability.

Basketball Shoes

While many newer players and individuals to the game may believe that any old pair of shoes will suffice, nothing could be further from the truth.  Basketball shoes are an essential item to proper play and many leagues will disallow players from play if they are not wearing proper basketball shoes.

Basketball shoes often offer high tops, which provide adequate and proper protection for your ankles.  In addition, basketball shoes are often heavier and sturdier, giving your foot and ankle additional support and stability.  However, basketball shoes don’t have to be expensive, as evidenced by our article on the best Nike basketball shoes under $50.

Basketball Shirt or Jersey

As with a pair of basketball shorts or pants, a proper basketball shirt will help to keep you cool and will offer you sufficient space and room to play at your best.  And while you may consider wearing a basketball jersey to the court, we’d caution against doing so.  Unless you are playing in a recreation league, basketball jerseys are best left to the professionals.

Rather, consider opting for a basketball tank top, such as one from Adidas or Nike, which won’t restrict your arms during play.  If you’re uncomfortable with wearing a tank top, you could always consider a simple athletic shirt, such as one from Nike or Under Armour.

Essential Rules of Basketball

As with any regulated and popular sport, there are differing rules dependent on the league, age-level, and experience of the players. However, the general rules of basketball are typically utilized across all leagues and regardless of age or experience level. These rules are important to help keep basketball uniform across the globe and are typically followed in both domestic and international play.

Number of Players on the Court

In a regulation game of basketball between two opposing teams, there are two teams of five players on the court. These players compete on both the offensive and defensive side of the court and look to score the basket more times than their opposing team counterparts.

Positions of the Players on the Court

On a basketball court, and during a regulation game, there are five distinct and unique positions played by a member of each team. These positions are the point guard or the 1, the shooting guard or the 2, the small forward or the 3, the power forward or the 4, and the center or the 4.

We explain more in-depth each position below.

Point Guard – or the 1 Position

The point guard is considered to be the coach of the team while on the court. The most specialized role of any position on a basketball team, the point guard is expected to run the team’s offense by controlling both the ball and the flow of the offense.

The Shooting Guard – or the 2 Position

The shooting guard plays a similar role as the point guard but does not bear the same responsibility in having to handle the ball as often. Rather, a shooting guards main objective on offense is to score points for their team.

The Small Forward – or the 3 Position

The small forward is the perfect cross between the smaller guards and the larger power forward’s and centers on the court. Extremely versatile, small forwards are tasked with being just about a little bit of everything on the court.

The Power Forward – or the 4 Position

The power forward position is typically reserved for taller players who may not meet the weight and strength needed to play the center position. Often playing with their backs to the basket, the power forwards position themselves for mid-range jumpers and, in recent years, have become more adept at the 12-18 foot shot range.

The Center – or the 5 Position

Centers are typically the biggest players in both height and weight on the court. Playing extremely close to basket, centers look to score close to the hoop, typically via a dunk at the rim. In addition, due to their height, centers will typically be the ones to initiate the start of a basketball game via the tip-off.

Scoring and Points

In basketball, unlike in soccer, baseball, or hockey, a field goal attempt which successfully enters the basket can count for 1, 2, or 3 points depending on where on the basketball court the shot was taken and what type of shot was taken.

Per the above diagram, any successfully made shot within the three-point line arc shall count for 2 points. Similarly, any successfully made shot past the three-point line arc shall count for 3 points. However, if a basketball player is fouled, in certain situations, he will be assessed free-throw shots. Taken from the free-throw line, each successfully made shot shall count for 1 point.

Moving the Basketball

In basketball, there are two ways to advance the ball forward. A player may either pass the basketball to their teammate or may opt to dribble the basketball forward. In basketball, for a player to move forward with the ball, the player must dribble the basketball.

However, do note, that in basketball the use of the feet is prohibited. All movement of the basketball shall be with a players hands and the use of the feet, whether through a purposeful or accidental kick, shall result in a turnover of the ball.

If the player, at any time while dribbling, pauses their dribble, they will be prohibited from resuming their dribble or moving forwards or backwards and will have to remain on the spot where their dribble last occurred.

However, a player who has paused their dribble may pass the basketball to a teammate on the court. Similarly, if they so choose, that same player may opt to attempt a field goal from the position where they stopped their dribble.

Prohibited Actions

In basketball, there are a number of prohibited actions which can either result in a turnover of the basketball or a personal foul being assessed. A foul in basketball is assessed when there is excessive contact by an individual player against an opposing player.

This can include reaching in to attempt to steal the basketball and accidentally hitting the opposing player, to attempting to block or sway the direction of a shot attempt and hitting the shooting players hands, to purposefully pushing an opposing player off of you.

Depending on the severity, when, where, and how the prohibited action was committed, it can lead to either a loss of possession of the basketball or the opposing team and player being awarded free-throw shots.

Stats You Should Know

While shooting, passing, and dribbling are important aspects of the game which you should know, there are more stats and qualifications within the game which can help to improve your basketball skills.

In basketball, these additional stats and qualifications are known as five major individual stats. And while there are many more individual stats, the main five are the ones most closely concentrated on by the majority of basketball players and fans.


In a game of basketball, the total number of points a player scores is recorded and documented. This includes points scored via the three-point line, a two-point field goal, and points made from the free-throw line.


Similarly, another major individual stat line in basketball and in the NBA is the assist. An assist in basketball is attributed to the player who passes the ball to a teammate in a way that directly leads to a score by a field goal.

An assist can be attributed to a player wherein the pass directly leads to a successfully made field goal, including both the two-point field goal and from beyond the three-point line. However, no assist can be attributed to a player from a made free-throw.

Lastly, only the pass directly before a successfully made shot may count as an assist. If multiple passes are made before a successfully made shot is attempted, then only the last player to pass the basketball to the shooting player will be awarded the assist.


Another of the five major individual stats in a game of basketball is the rebound. The rebound is one of the most important stats in a game of basketball and is typically dominated by taller players who are able to effectively box out and ensure proper positioning to secure one.

In the simplest terms, a rebound is when a player takes possession of the basketball after a missed shot attempt.  This possession can occur after an offensive or defensive sequence and will be counted as one rebound.  The secured rebound is added to a player’s overall game stats and a single rebound can only be added to one individual players stats.


One of the most difficult stats to accumulate in a game of basketball is a steal. A steal in basketball is when a defensive player causes a turnover of the ball by the opposing offensive team. This is typically done by deflecting and controlling the ball or by catching an errant pass or dribble by the opposing team.

However, an interesting note, steals are credited to the defensive player who first causes the turnover, regardless of whether or not they end up with possession of the live ball.


The last of the five major individual basketball stats is the block. Another difficult stat, the block occurs and is credited to a player when that player legally deflects or alters the trajectory of a field goal attempt by an offensive player.

However, a block only counts if the defensive player does not commit a foul while in the act of attempting to block the ball and only while the shot is traveling upward or at its apex towards the basket.

Lastly, a deflected shot that still goes in does not count as a blocked shot but rather as a successfully made field goal, awarding the points to both the individual players stat line and the overall teams points.

How to Get Better at Each of the Five Major Individual Stats?

While it is difficult for any basketball player to become adept at all five of the major individual stat lines, there are some useful tips to becoming better at each individual one. Below, we will review how to perform each of the five individual stats and how to improve your own performance within each one.

How to Become a Better Shooter

Shooting a basketball is half parts science and half parts an art. And in order to become as proficient as Steph Curry, you’re going to have to practice shooting on a daily basis.

The basketball shot is one of the deadliest weapons an offensive player can deploy.  It can catch a defender off-guard, can break the opposing team’s streak, and can be the nail in the coffin at the end of the game.  A clutch shot at the end of the game can also be a direct blow to the opposing team’s confidence and morale.

Begin with your stance.  You should keep your feet no further than shoulder width apart and they should be slightly staggered.  In addition, you should keep your shooting foot, that is the foot that is aligned with your shooting hand, slightly ahead of your non-shooting foot.

With proper stance, you should also have your shoulders, hips, and elbows aligned to the basket.  This will make the shot easier and give you more direction as to where you should shoot the ball.

While in a shooting stance, never keep your knees locked.  Doing so will not only lead to a higher chance of you falling but also won’t give you the force from your lower body to propel the shot.

As you begin your shot attempt, keep your body turned to the air and jump forward with the ball.

Speaking of the ball, you should also ensure that the ball is properly positioned for a shot. Holding the ball down by your waist, your hands should be holding the ball neatly and snugly.

Lift the ball up near your face, with your dominant hand slightly cupping the underbody of the ball.  Your non-dominant hand should maintain control of the ball and keep it aligned to the basket.

Once in a shooting motion, focus on the basket or backboard where you want to shot to land.  You may opt directly for the rim or the backboard for a bank shot. 

As you release, flick your dominant hand’s wrist with the ball and maintain follow-through by keeping your arm in the air as the ball floats towards the rim.

Land squarely on your feet.  Watch where the ball lands and either hustle to grab the offensive rebound or back to a defensive stance.  Ideally, you will have time to get back on defense with a made shot.

How to Become a Better Passer and Get More Assists

Passing is an essential skill in basketball and one that will help you accumulate your total assists stats. Firstly, it is important to note that in basketball, there are multiple legal forms of a pass. The full list of differing passes are explained below.

  • The Bounce Pass – The bounce pass is one of the most effective passes and is typically used at the end of a fast break, when a player passes the ball to a player making a cut to the basket or to a player in the post.  This pass is most effective when a defender has their hands up in the air, however, it is one of the slower passes and should be used with caution. Executing a bounce pass is relatively simple.  Simply aim to bounce the ball about 2/3rds of the distance between yourself and the receiver. The receiver of the ball should aim to receive the ball at their waist. 
  • The Chest Pass – The chest pass is the most effective and efficient pass in the game.  It is also a quick pass, wherein it would take an offensive player more time to dribble down the court then to simply pass the ball to a teammate further ahead. To begin a chest pass, simply bring the ball up to your chest.  With both hands, push the ball forward to the receiving player.  The receiving player should receive the ball at their chest and aim to catch it with both hands.
  • The Overhead Pass – The overhead pass is not as widely used as either the chest pass or the bounce pass.  However, this pass can be useful when you are looking to get the ball past a defender with their hands down or a defender who is squatted low. Completing the overhead pass, though, is relatively simple.  Grab the ball and place it, with both hands, over the back of your head.  Utilizing your arm strength, throw the ball to a receiving teammate.  Aim to throw the ball near the recipient’s chest, making it easy for them to catch.
  • The Baseball Pass – The baseball pass is one of the most difficult passes to make and execute.  It is also the fastest pass and one that is difficult to control efficiently.  Baseball passes are usually used in a full-court pass, when you are trying to get the ball to an open offensive player on the other end of the court. To complete the baseball pass, simply throw the basketball with your dominant hand behind your head.  Heaving the ball to the receiving player, utilize your body weight and arm strength to give the ball additional force and motion.

Utilizing any of the above-mentioned passing types, if you are looking to gain more assists in a game, be sure to always keep your eyes up while dribbling and look for your teammate who is either open for a field goal attempt or the one who is cutting to the basket for a layup or slam dunk.

In addition, when passing the ball, always anticipate where your teammate will be, not where they are. This is particularly true for a cutting or moving player, wherein the pass should be made to where they are going, not where they are.

How to Become a Better Rebounder

Rebounding is an essential part of the game and can be done on both the offensive end, giving your team an additional opportunity to make a field goal, or on the defensive end, ending the opposing teams possession with the basketball.

However, there are two main ways to become a better rebounder.

Firstly, learn how to box-out correctly. Boxing out an opposing player is one of the most effective ways to secure a rebound.  However, all too often, players will box out ineffectively or simply box out an opposing player who is not a threat to securing the rebound.

When it comes to boxing out, you should always position yourself between the opposing player and the basket.  This is particularly useful as, if, the ball lands between the space between yourself and the rim, you will be the player most likely able to secure the rebound.

Secondly, to be a better rebounder, it is important move to where the basketball is anticipated to land after a field-goal attempt. That is, you must learn to anticipate where the ball is going to land and immediately move there to secure the basketball in your arms.

How to Get More Steals and Play Better Defense

Playing proper defense and getting more steals in basketball go hand-in-hand. To do both, you should remain low on defense. This means you should be closely guarding the opposing player with the basketball but do so with a low defensive stance, allowing you to more likely take possession of the basketball after it bounces up from the floor.

Similarly, while remaining low, lean forward slightly, placing a bit of pressure on the opposing player. Doing so will allow your arms to be closer to both the ground and the opposing player, greatly increasing your chances of being able to tip away the ball.

Lastly, your hands should be always moving throughout the sequence. Whether attempting to knock the ball away or high near the opposing players face, doing so will place pressure on the player with the ball and will increase the probability of an error occurring on their end.

How to Get More Blocks in Basketball

Blocks are one of the most difficult and impressive defensive moves in basketball. However, it is important to note that not every shot is block-able and nor should every shot attempt, attempt to be blocked.

Rather, when looking to block a shot attempt, you should anticipate where the basketball shot is going to be from and look to meet the opposing players hands there. That is, if you see a player begin to pull the basketball up behind their head for a shot, place your arms and hands up high in an attempt to deflect the trajectory of the basketball.

List of Common Fouls in Basketball

While playing a regulation game of basketball, there are a multitude of prohibited items which will cause a foul to be assessed against you. While the full list is quite long, below we’ve listed the most common offensive and defensive fouls.

A defensive foul is a foul that is committed by the team on defense.  This can include fouls such-as a reach in, a blocking foul, or an illegal defensive screen.

Offensive fouls, on the other hand, are fouls committed by the team on offense.  Although these fouls are less common, they still do occur throughout the game.  These can include fouls such as a charge, an illegal screen, or a shove-off.

  • Charging Foul (offensive) – Perhaps the single most common offensive foul in basketball is the offensive charge.  The offensive charge foul is assessed against a player that collides illegally against a defensive player.  This is typically done deliberately, wherein the defensive player will “take a charge”, by standing upright with their feet facing the offensive player.
  • Illegal Screen Fouls (offensive) – Illegal screen fouls are another common offensive foul in basketball.  This foul is assessed when an offensive player performs a screen against a defensive player but remains limb-to-limb with the defensive player, not allowing them to pass by them. 
  • Loose Ball Foul (offensive) – A loose ball foul is a foul assessed against a player when the ball is loose and not in control by either team.  This foul can be incurred if a player acts in a manner that jeopardizes other players and can include kicking, shoving, or pushing of another player.
  • Personal Foul (defense) – a personal foul is assessed against a defensive player when the player accidentally or purposefully checks, hits, or bumps against an offensive player with or without the ball. That is, any contact which counteracts the natural rhythm of the opposing offensive player can be assessed as a defensive foul.

Alternate Versions of Basketball

While a regulation, five-on-five game of basketball can be loads of fun, there may be times when you are looking for less competitive or strenuous games. Basketball is one of the best sports for its many different versions and forms of play and can be enjoyed by a single player alone or by multiple people on a court.

  • H-O-R-S-E – H-O-R-S-E is one of the most popular basketball games and is widely played on courts across the country. Played by two or more players, The player whose turn is first is given control, which means they must attempt to make a basket in a particular way of their choosing, explaining to the other players beforehand what the requirements of the shot are. If that player is successful, each subsequent player must attempt that same shot according to the requirements set out by the initial player. If a player fails to duplicate the shot, they acquire a letter, starting with H and moving rightward through the word “Horse”. After all players have made an attempt, control moves to the next player, and the game continues on in this fashion. The last player to not spell the word HORSE wins the round.
  • Around the World – another classic basketball game, around the world is also played by two or more players. Players will set a sequence of shooting positions and turn order. Each player will attempt to make a shot from the predetermined spots and the first player to hit all the shots is declared the winner.
  • 21 – 21 is a free-for-all variant of the game of basketball. Typically played with 3-5 players, each player attempts to secure and score a point in the game. A successfully made shot allows for the player who made the shot to regain possession of the basketball at the three-point line and an additional attempt to score. The first player to score 21, with 2-pointers being counted as 1-point and three-pointers being counted as 2-points, wins the game.

Random Facts About Basketball That Are Cool to Know

Basketball, being one of the most popular sports in the world, has a ton of cool and interesting trivia associated with it. Below, in no particular order, are some cool and random facts about the game and its most famous players.

  • The orange colored basketballs that we’ve all come to love and know were not always the official color of the sport. Rather, when basketball first started, the color of the basketball were brown. However, in 1957, Coach Tony Hinkle of Butler University proposed a color change to help increase the visibility of the ball for both players and fans alike.
  • When basketball was first invented, and long into the official start of the NBA, neither the sport nor the league had a shot clock. Rather, the 24-second shot clock was the idea of Syracuse Nationals owner Danny Biasone and general manager Leo Ferris. The NBA would adopt the idea during the 1954-55 season.
  • Two women have officially been drafted to the NBA. Denise Long and Luisa Harris were both drafted to the league, however neither woman saw any playing time in the NBA and would have short stints with either team that drafted them.
  • Both the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers are tied for the most number of NBA championships. These two venerated NBA franchises both have 17 championship trophies to their names.
  • NBA players are some of the highest paid professional athletes in the world, averaging salaries of $7.5 million annually.
  • Steph Curry is the highest paid NBA player in recent seasons, with the reigning Finals MVP making over $558,304 per game.
  • Contrary to popular belief, Michael Jordan was not drafted first overall in his draft class. Rather, he was drafted third after Hakeem Olajuwon was selected first overall by the Houston Rockets and Sam Bowie was selected second by the Portland Trail Blazers. ESPN would later write that the Trail Blazer’s choice to select Bowie over Jordan was, “the worst draft pick in North American professional sports history”
  • Speaking of Michael Jordan, the greatest basketball player of all time was fined $5,000 per game by the NBA for wearing his legendary Air Jordans during NBA games. The shoes were against the NBA dress code at the time and Jordan would pay the fine after each game.
  • The NBA has no official height requirements and the shortest player to play in the league, Muggsy Bogues, was officially listed at just 5’3″. However, and contrary to popular belief, the tallest player to ever play in the NBA was not Yao Ming. Rather, the tallest NBA player to ever play in the league was Gheorghe Mureșan, who was officially listed as standing at 7’7″.
  • Similarly, when basketball was first invented, dribbling wasn’t one of the rules. Rather, players would need to pass the ball forward to progress the ball towards the basket
  • The longest basketball game lasted for 78 minutes. Played on January 6, 1951, the Indianapolis Olympians and Rochester Royals went to six overtimes, with the Olympians being crowned the victor in a thrilling 75-73 game.
  • The great Wilt Chamberlain scored the most points in a single NBA game, with 100 points. However, the late Kobe Bryant came close to breaking that record in 2006, when he scored 81 points against the Toronto Raptors.
  • Speaking of points, in the history of the league just six players have scored over 70 points in a single game.