HomeSportsBasketballAll You Need to Know About Basketball: History, Dimensions, Rules & Competitions
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All You Need to Know About Basketball: History, Dimensions, Rules & Competitions

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Basketball is a team sport played between two teams of five players each on a rectangular court, generally indoors. The objective of the sport is to toss the ball through the opponent’s basket (or goal), which is an elevated horizontal ring with a net. Basketball may be called as the sole major sport of US origin (there is a reasonable skepticism over Baseball’s American origin). It was in 1891 that James Naismith invented the game in Massachusetts.  Although mostly played in North America, the game is now gaining wide popularity in Asian countries, especially in China. Basketball is an Olympic game as well, having been officially inducted in 1936.

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Did you Know?

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Michael Jordan (Credits NBA)

Michael Jordan, widely regarded as the greatest basketball player of all time, NBA records for highest career regular season scoring average of 30.12 points per game and the highest career playoff scoring average of 33.45 points per game. He is the first athlete around the world to become a billionaire.

Brief History

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James Naismith, the father of basketball (Credits CSHR)

Basketball can be attributed as the only major American sport with a clearly identifiable inventor. It was in December 1891 that James Naismith, the father of basketball, invented the game of basketball. That year, he wrote the 13 original rules of the sport as part of a December 1891 class assignment at an International Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) training school in Springfield, Massachusetts.

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Brought up and educated in Canada, Naismith came down south to pursue his passion for physical education and Christian ministry.

He was expanding an assignment when he created a game that could be played in indoors in the YMCA gyms during the winter.

The first games featured 9 players a side that attempted to toss a soccer ball into peach baskets nailed to the balconies at the two ends of a gymnasium. Back then, the ‘basket’ was not pervious. Whenever a basket was made, the game had to be paused so that a man with a ladder could retrieve the ball.

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In 1892 after basketball’s first public match, the game spread quickly by virtue of YMCA’s global network. The first intercollegiate match was played in 1895, between the Minnesota School of Agriculture and Hamline College. The first women’s match took place a year later, with Stanford beat U.C. Berkeley in the match.

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In just 6 years after of its invention, Basketball’s first professional league was already formed in 1898, 7 years before nets finally replaced the peach baskets.

However, James Naismith had little contribution in the evolution of the game he had invented.

Today basketball’s leading historic organization, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts stands at a stone’s throw from where the first peach baskets were nailed.

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The basic objective of the game is to put the ball in the opposing team’s basket. The team to score the most points at the end of the game is the winner.

Dimensions and Equipment Rules

Backstop Unit

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Backstop Diagram (Credits FIBA)

There are 2 backstop units in any standard basketball game. A backstop is placed at each end of the playing court. They include :

  1. backboard  
  2. basket ring with a ring mounting plate  
  3. basket net
  4. basket support structure
  5. padding

Their dimensions and construction are as shown in the diagram.


  • This is the board on which the basket is fitted. It not only supports the baskets but also works as a surface on which the players bounce the ball to score a basket.
  • The backboards can be made of a suitable transparent material, made in one piece, non-reflective, with a flat front surface and shall:  Have a protective framework of the backboard support structure around the outer edge.
  • The dimensions of backboard are as illustrated in the diagram.

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Basketball Court

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Basketball Court Diagram (Credits FIBA)
  • As per the Official Basketball Rules, the playing floor surface is to be made of a permanent wooden flooring.
  • The playing floor is at least 32 m in length and at least 19 m in width. The floor is made of an anti-glare surface.
  • The playing court is marked by 5 cm lines.
  • In addition, a boundary line 200 cm or more in width and in a sharply contrasting colour is also marked across the court.
  • The scorer’s table, a minimum of 600 cm in length and 80 cm in height, must be placed on a platform of a minimum of 200 mm in height.
  • All spectators must be seated at a distance of at least 200 cm from the outer edge of the boundary line of the playing court.
  • The height of the ceiling or the lowest obstruction above the playing floor shall be a minimum of 7 m.  

The Basketball 

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A standard basketball (Credits SPB)
  • For High-level competitions (Level 1), the outer surface of the ball can be made of leather or artificial/- composite/synthetic leather.
  • The surface of the ball should be free of soluble heavy metals, AZO-dyes, Phthalate, and PAH. The ball should be spherical, with not more than 12 seams up to 6.35 mm in width.
  • The ball should be either made of a single shade of orange or of any other colour combination approved by FIBA.
  • For all the men’s competitions across all categories, the circumference of the ball should be between 749 mm and 780 mm (i.e. size 7)
  • The ball should weigh between 567 grams and 650 grams.
  • For all the women’s competitions across all categories, the circumference of the ball should be between 724 mm and 737 mm (i.e. size 6)
  • The ball should weigh between 510 grams and 567 grams.

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Basketball Game Rules


  • In a standard basketball game, 2 teams of maximum 12 players are allowed. A maximum of 5 players of each team on the court at any time is allowed.
  • The teams are permitted to make as many substitutions as they wish.


  • The game includes four periods of 10 minutes each.
  • However, if the score gets tied,  an overtime period of 5 minutes is played until one team has more points than the other one (at the end of the 5-minute period)


  • If a basket is scored from near the basket i.e. inside the three-point arc, it is worth 2 points.
  • If a basket is scored from far away i.e. beyond the three-point arc, it is worth 3 points.
  • If a basket scored from the free-throw line, it is worth 1 point.

Moving the ball

  • The ball may either be passed from one player to another or dribbled by a player from one point to another, albeit it has to be bounced while walking or running.
  • A player may take two steps without dribbling, before passing or shooting the ball.
  • Once if a player stops dribbling, he cannot start to dribble again.
  • If the team with the ball-possession has passed across the half-court line, it cannot cross back over the line with the ball.

Shot clock

  • If a team gains ball-possession, they have up to 24 seconds to attempt a shot.
  • In addition to this, the offensive players cannot remain within the restricted area for more than 3 consecutive seconds.

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  • A personal foul occurs if there is any kind of illegal physical contact between two opponents. A player with more than 5 personal fouls is excluded from the game.
  • A foul made on a player who is attempting to take a shot results in the awarding of the same number of free-throws as those of the shot taken (i.e. 2 from inside the arc, 3 from outside).
  • However, if the player who is being fouled upon makes the attempted shot, the shot is counted and an additional free-throw is awarded.
  • If a team makes 4 fouls in a single period, each additional foul (on a player not attempting a shot) thereafter results in an automatic awarding of 2 free-throws.

Major Basketball Competitions

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The 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup Logo (Credits ACEM)

The FIBA coordinates to arrange the Basketball World Cup, its flagship competition, every four years. The tournament witnesses 32 teams from around the world fight it out for the Naismith Trophy, named in honour of basketball’s Canadian inventor James Naismith.

The tournament structure is very similar but not exactly same to that of its football equivalent, the FIFA World Cup in football.

For example, both the tournaments occurred in the same year from 1970 through 2014. However, starting from 2019, the Basketball World Cup will be played a year ahead of the FIFA World Cup (which happened in 2018).

Along with the men’s event, another parallel event called the FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup for women’s teams. It too is held quadrennially, from 1986, when it was first introduced, through to 2014, in the same year as the men’s event. However, it is hosted by a different country. Unlike its men’s counterpart, the women’s tournament will continue to be held in the same year as the FIFA World Cup. The forthcoming 2019 FIBA World Cup will be hosted by China, another sign of the sports growing prominence in the Asian country.

Governing Body of Basketball

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International Basketball Federation Logo (Credits FIBA)

The International Basketball Federation is the international governing body of basketball.

Originally, it was known by the French name Fédération Internationale de Basket-ball Amateur, from where the acronym FIBA comes from. However, in 1989, the word amateur was dropped from its official name but the acronym was retained. Today, the initials “BA” represent the first two letters of basketball.

FIBA not only defines the international rules of basketball, but it also regulates the transfer of athletes across countries, specifies the equipment and facilities required. FIBA also controls the appointment of international referees for competitive games. Today, a sum of 213 national federations are its members, all of them divided into five zones of Africa, Americas, Asia, Europe, and Oceania.

In India, the Basketball Federation of India is the apex governing body responsible for the development and promotion of basketball at various levels.

BFI also has the responsibility of organizing training camps and national tournaments, and to prepare both men’s and women’s teams for the international competitions in across various age categories. The national basketball team of India is called as the Young Cagers.

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How is basketball played?

Basketball is played on a rectangular court, with teams trying to score by shooting the ball into the opponent’s basket while defending their own. Players dribble, pass, and shoot the ball to move it towards the opponent’s hoop and score points.

What are the main rules of basketball?

Some key rules in basketball include dribbling the ball while moving, passing to teammates, and shooting to score points. Players must avoid traveling (taking steps without dribbling) and committing fouls (such as illegal physical contact) that may result in free throws for the opposing team.

What are the positions in basketball?

Basketball positions include point guard, shooting guard, small forward, power forward, and center. Each position has specific responsibilities on offense and defense, contributing to the team’s overall strategy.

What is the NBA?

The NBA (National Basketball Association) is the premier professional basketball league in North America, featuring highly skilled players from around the world. It is known for its high level of competition and showcases some of the best basketball talent globally.

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Monish Gadiya
Monish Gadiya
Monish Gadiya is the Head of Content at KreedOn. He is a thorough tech-enthusiast and believes that innovation is the answer to all the problems prevalent in the society. Monish graduated from University of Pune with a degree in Civil Engineering before pursuing a post-graduate diploma course in intellectual property rights. A die-hard football fan, he has represented his college at various football competitions.



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