How Play Basketball

How To Play Basketball | The Only Guide You Need

Basketball! Basketball! Basketball! It’s one of the most exciting, entertaining, and challenging sport in the world. Every time I watch my favorite local team do their thing on the basketball court, I’m awed and moved by their special moves. They do it like the real pros. Each team player seems to enjoy every second of the game.

What’s the secret that keeps these five players playing it so cool?

Is there a special diet they take before entering the court?

I’ve always wondered this.

During my recent interaction with a professional basketball coach, I discovered the secret to playing basketball the right way.

If you want to play it like the legends in this sport- legends like Jordan, Kobe, LeBron, among others- you got to learn the game’s basic rules as well as the fundamental skills. In other terms, you got to know how to play basketball before you shoot, dribble, dunk, or make your very first move on the court.

In this post, I’ll teach you how to play basketball. The post has two sections. The first one covers all the basic aspects of basketball to help the beginners get rolling. In the second section, you’ll learn how to raise your fundamental basketball skill- dribbling, shooting, and playing the defense.

The sooner you start reading, the sooner you’ll learn to play basketball like a pro…

SECTION 1: The Basics

You Need a High-Quality Basketball and a Hoop:

Before you do everything else, you need to get a good basketball and a hoop. As for basketball, you have to pick from the four sizes available. There are sizes for youths, intermediates, and adults of different genders.

Use a hoop with a challenging height. The standard height of hoops is 10 feet high. A full-court basketball comprises of two hoops at each end of the 94-foot long court. But if you’re playing a half court pick-up game or shooting around with friends, you can install a single hoop.

Forming A Team (team and different roles):

This one is obvious… Before you start playing basketball, you need to form two teams. A full-court basketball is made up of two teams, each holding five players. For a half-court game, however, you can play the sport in teams of three.

Different team players get different positions. You can play shooting guard, point guard, power forward, small forward, and center.

Starting the Game!

Basketball in place, a hoop installed, teams are ready, what’s next? Starting the game...​

This is how it starts:

The referee throws the ball up to start the game. Then two players (one from each team) will vie to take possession of the ball. The team whose players catch the ball plays offense while the other team plays the defense.

How to Move the Ball Around the Court:

After the game starts, you’ve to move the ball around the court. Players from one team passes/tosses the ball back and forth as they try to prevent the opposition from possessing it. As a general rule of basketball, the ball MUST be bounced on the floor continually as the team possessing it tries to move it to the extreme where the net awaits.

NEVER walk with the ball (termed as traveling). If you possess the ball, you should either be dribbling it (bouncing it up and down on the floor) or stay stationary, with one foot planted on the ground to pivot from. The planted foot allows you to pivot around the court when possessing the ball. Remember to keep planted if you’re not dribbling the ball.

When dribbling, you have to keep doing it as you move, until you shoot, pass, or stop dribbling by planting your foot to pivot from. If you stop dribbling, you can’t dribble again. Else, you’ll be penalized for double-dribble. We’ll discuss more on how to dribble properly later in this post.

If you decide to shoot, you can pick the ball and take two steps without bouncing it before shooting or passing. Taking more than two steps will and you into a foul known as traveling violation.

Alternatively, you can opt to jump and pass or shoot (here, you must have gotten rid of the ball by the time you touch the floor again).

Word of Caution: You should not stay with the ball for more than 35 seconds, and you should not kick it.

How to Score Points:

When it comes to scoring, basketball is unlike other sports you know. Here, the offensive player can score 1-3 points with just a single shot. This depends on the shooting position.

  • If the position extends from the half-circle (approximately 20 feet from the hoop for most courts), that’s three-pointer line, and a shot taken beyond it is worth an extra point.
  • If you take the shot inside the arc, it’s worth two points.

There are also foul shots, each worth a point, and are taken from the free throw line which is 15 feet from the hoop. As a player, you can be awarded 1-3 free throws if fouled when attempting a shooting or fouled after the other team has accumulated a lot of fouls.

The team with the highest points becomes the winner. If the teams happen to tie at the end of the game, they go into overtime. The overtime period lasts for as long as one team has more points than the other.

SECTION 2: Perfect Your Skills

Congrats! After reading the basketball basics above, you’re now halfway baked for a basketball game.

In the second and the last section, I’m going to teach you how to perfect your basketball skills. You’ll learn how to dribble the ball like a professional player, shoot excellently, and play the defense the correct way.

How to Dribble the Ball Like a Pro:

One of the most important skills that every basketball player must have is dribbling the ball. After all, you’ll find yourself doing this more often during the entire game duration. Dribbling, which is simply bouncing the ball to the floor isn’t a hard task.

But again, you need to practice and practice until you become skilled at it. The following tips will prepare you to dribble the basketball around the court:

  • Observe the right posture. Have you ever watched how the professional players pose when they possess the ball? If yes, you must have seen them crouch in a low position so as to guard the ball as they dribble. Additionally, their knees are flexed, shoulder-width apart, and they stand on the balls of their feet. This is the posture you need to observe when dribbling.
  • Use your fingerprints to dribble the ball. Another thing that all beginners do wrong and probably affects how good they’re able to control the ball is bouncing it using their palms. If you want to have full control of the ball, and secure it properly, you need to start dribbling it with your fingerprints (not the palm).

And when you use your fingerprints, simply grip and push the ball- for total effectiveness. As you continue practicing, you’ll get to know the right amount of force you need to exert on that ball so that it bounces consistently. Ensure that your ball is inflated according the laid out specs for consistent bouncing.

  • The ball should always be a waist high. It might feel difficult to control the ball for most beginners as they’re unable to keep it low as much as possible without looking at it at the time. But you need to practice dribbling it as low as possible. If you keep the ball so high, to your chest level, defenders can easily pick it from you.
  • Always keep your head up. Your coach will tell you this again and again until it becomes a ritual whenever you enter the court. Why? A good basketball player sees the hoop, opponents, and teammates at the same time. It’s hard to know your next best move when you’re not looking up. Practice dribbling without fixing your eyes on the ball and your skills will rise faster.
  • Dribble with both hands. As you continue dribbling, you’ll start to like it. It’s total fun. You can then take it the next level by practicing dribbling with your both hands. Initially, you’ll have to use your dominant hand until you master the technique. Then give your weak hand a chance to dribble too. Using both hands elevates your ball handling skills and makes you an unpredictable player who can move to any side of the court.

In our next lesson, we discuss how to shoot the ball...

How to Shoot the Basketball Excellently:

Shooting is yet another important skill to possess in the basketball court. Any expert shooter should:

  • Square up when shooting. This is the right posture for everyone who wants to shoot. Squaring up translates to pointing both sets of your toes such that they’re pointing straight at your opponent’s hoop, and then aligning your hips so that you can easily aim at your front side parallel with the hoop.
  • Before shooting, balance the ball on your dominant hand. The hand you comfortably dribble with gives you the shooting power as well. Balance the ball on your fingertips, at the bottom of the ball. Eventually, bring it up the level of your chin, and bend your knees, crouching.
  • Now roll the ball off your shooting hand. This is after getting a nice shooting position above. Extend the shooting elbow in a straight up and forward manner as you roll your wrist forward. Continue extending the shooting arm up and out towards the hoop. When your arms are fully extended, allow the ball to pop forward, and roll backward as you release it. After releasing the ball, keep ‘following’ it with hand.
  • Give your shot extra power by crouching down and popping out with your legs as you release the ball. When the arms are fully extended, jump slightly, and extend your legs to add some extra power to your shot.

But avoid jumping forward, towards the hoop- a common mistake among many beginners. Rather, jump straight up to help arc the ball towards the ring.

  • Shooting the ball and making it slip through that ring isn’t an easy task. It requires practice and practice. You’ll find out that your initial shots will be awful. So, where do you aim when shooting? On the red square? On the backboard? Or at the hoop’s top? As a beginner, use this single trick to help you shoot well.

Visualize a small coin balancing on the rim’s front lip, and then try to knock it out with your shot. It works wonders for most beginners

How to Play the Defense:

As the name suggests, playing defense means that your role is to stop the opponent team from scoring. You’ll do this by blocking shots, disrupting passes, and stealing the ball if possible. The most common defense strategy in basketball games is the man-to-man defense where you’re assigned another player from the opponents’ team. Your job is to guard that player for the entire game period.

To play the defense properly:

  • Assume the right defense stance. If you want to play defense well, learn to get as wide possible and learn to get low. Crouch, with your knees wide apart (more than the width of your shoulders) and your arms straight out, fully extended. Learn to stand on your knee balls, as you make sideways movements to guard the player possessing the ball. Your eyes should remain locked on the ball.
  • Grab the rebounds too. This is another essential skill that every defensive player needs. When the opposing team attempts a shot, and it fails, deny them another chance by grabbing the ball. You can post-up down by the basket and possess the ball when it bounces.
  • Avoid fouls. Most fouls that happen in a basketball game come from the defense. It’s, therefore, good to avoid pushing, hitting, or slapping at the arms of the opposing player. Keep all your focus on the ball. Touching the ball isn’t a foul. You should not reach out and grab an opponent. This one is also a foul.

Final Thoughts

A complete guide on how to play basketball is here. This post explains, in details, everything you need to know about the basketball game. Whether you’re a beginner, or you want to advance your skills, this post will serve you right. The first section will enlighten you on all the basics of a basketball game while the second section will help you master the dribbling, shooting, and defense skills.

Practice makes a man perfect. Basketball is like any other sport- the more you train yourself to play it, the more you’ll master all the tricks and become a pro at it.

Keep practicing and have fun!

About the Author Michael Jordan

This is Michael Jordan, a 26 years old guy. Besides my study and part time job, I'm passionate about playing basketball, cycling and exercising. is the place where I'm sharing my thoughts on the internet and I love the way here!Follow Our Guide and Be a NINJA Basketball Player with US!Keep following my blog Post and enjoy playing basketball like a pro!

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