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The fundamentals of basketball

Basketball is a dynamic and fast-paced sport that captivates fans all around the world. To embark on your basketball journey, it's crucial to grasp the fundamentals of the game. 
In this section, we will delve into the core aspects of basketball, including understanding the rules and positions. By mastering these foundational elements, you'll be well-equipped to develop your skills and enjoy the game to the fullest.

Basketball rules made simple

Learning all of the rules of basketball can seem like a lot, but there are three key areas you should understand before you hit the court:


Understanding how points are scored in basketball is essential. The primary goal is to shoot the ball through the opponent's hoop, which awards two points for a successful shot from inside the three-point line and three points for a shot made beyond the three-point line. 
Free throws, awarded for fouls, are worth one point each. Familiarise yourself with the different scoring opportunities and how they contribute to the overall game strategy.

Fouls and violations

Basketball has specific rules regarding fouls and violations. Common fouls include charging, blocking, and holding, which results in free throws or possession turnovers. 
Violations, such as travelling (taking more than two steps without dribbling), double dribble (using both hands to dribble the ball), and shot clock violations (failing to attempt a shot within the designated time), lead to turnovers and loss of possession. 
Understanding these rules will help you navigate the game and play within its boundaries.

Shot clock

The shot clock is a crucial aspect of the game that regulates the pace and intensity. It sets a time limit (usually 24 seconds in professional basketball) for the offensive team to attempt a shot. 
This rule ensures that teams maintain an active and engaging style of play, preventing them from holding onto the ball for too long without making progress towards scoring. Being aware of the shot clock will help you make quick decisions and execute effective offensive plays.

Positions demystified

Understanding the roles and responsibilities of each position will provide you with insights into the different dynamics within a basketball team and help you find the position that suits your skills and preferences.

Point guard

The point guard is often considered the team's leader on the court. They are responsible for setting up plays, distributing the ball to teammates, and organising the team's offence. 
Point guards need to have excellent ball-handling skills, court vision, and decision-making abilities. They should be able to read the game, communicate effectively, and make accurate passes to create scoring opportunities for their teammates.

Shooting guard

The shooting guard primarily focuses on scoring points for the team. They excel at shooting from mid-range and three-point distances and often play alongside the point guard to create scoring opportunities. 
Shooting guards should have good shooting form, agility, and the ability to move without the ball. They should also be capable of driving to the basket and finishing at the rim.

Small forward

The small forward is a versatile player who contributes both offensively and defensively. They possess a balanced skill set, combining scoring, rebounding, and defending. 
Small forwards should be able to shoot from outside, drive to the basket, and defend multiple positions. They often play a crucial role in transition offences and guarding opposing players of various sizes.

Power forward

The power forward is typically the team's interior presence. They are responsible for scoring close to the basket, rebounding, and defending the opponent's frontcourt players. 
Power forwards should have strength, physicality, and the ability to establish a position in the low post. They contribute to the team's scoring through offensive rebounds, post-moves, and mid-range jump shots.


The centre is the tallest player on the team and often plays close to the basket. Their primary responsibilities include scoring near the rim, grabbing rebounds, defending the paint, and blocking shots. 
Centres should have a strong presence in the key area, both offensively and defensively. They need to excel at scoring through dunks, layups, and hook shots, as well as anchoring the defence by contesting shots and protecting the rim.

Essential basketball skills

Now that you have a solid understanding of the fundamental aspects of basketball, it's time to focus on developing the essential skills that will make you a well-rounded player. In this section, we will cover three critical skills: dribbling, shooting, and defence.

Dribbling basics

Dribbling is a fundamental skill that allows you to move with the ball while maintaining control. Focus on the following aspects to improve your dribbling:

Hand placement and control

Proper hand positioning is crucial for effective dribbling. Use your fingertips, not your palm, to control the ball. Keep your hand on top of the ball and your fingers spread for better control and feel.

Basic dribbling skills

Incorporate various dribbling drills into your practice routine to improve your ball-handling skills. Start with stationary drills such as stationary dribbling, figure-eight dribbling, and dribbling through cones. 

Gradually progress to more advanced drills that involve movement, change of direction, and speed.

Crossover dribbling

Learning different dribbling techniques adds versatility to your ball-handling abilities. Practice crossovers, where you quickly switch the ball from one hand to the other, and behind-the-back dribbles to keep your defender off balance and create scoring opportunities.

Shooting 101

Shooting is one of the most crucial skills in basketball, as it directly contributes to scoring points for your team. Focus on the following aspects to improve your shooting technique:

Shooting form

Proper shooting form involves body positioning, hand placement, and release. Start by positioning your feet shoulder-width apart, with your shooting-side foot slightly ahead of the other. 
Align your shooting arm with the basket, keeping your elbow tucked in and your wrist relaxed. As you release the ball, extend your arm, follow through, and maintain proper balance.

Shooting drills

Incorporate shooting drills into your practice sessions to enhance your shooting accuracy and consistency. Start with stationary shooting, focusing on proper form and technique. Progress to shooting off the dribble, catch-and-shoot scenarios, and shooting from different spots on the court. 
Repetition and practice are key to developing muscle memory and improving your shooting skills.

Layups and free throws

Layups and free throws are close-range shots that are crucial for scoring points. Practice layups from different angles and using different hand finishes to become proficient at finishing around the basket. 
Additionally, dedicate time to practising free throws, as they are uncontested shots that can significantly contribute to your team's score.

Defensive techniques

Being a strong defender is just as important as excelling on offence. Here are some defensive techniques to work on:

Man-to-man defence

Man-to-man defence involves guarding an assigned opponent. Focus on staying low, maintaining a defensive stance, and mirroring your opponent's movements. Anticipate their actions, stay engaged, and use your body to impede their progress without fouling.

Zone defence

Zone defence is a collective defensive strategy where players guard specific areas of the court. 
Understand the different zone defence formations, such as 2-3, 3-2, and 1-2-2, and work on communicating with your teammates to effectively cover the designated areas and prevent scoring opportunities for the opponents.

Blocking and stealing

Blocking shots and stealing the ball are effective defensive techniques to disrupt the opponent's plays. Develop your timing and jumping ability to block shots without committing fouls. 
Work on your hand-eye coordination and anticipation to make successful steals while maintaining good defensive positioning.

What you need to play basketball

It’s super important to play in the right gear. This can prevent injuries, but also just make the game more comfortable and fun to play.