How to Play Basketball

 In Players

In an official game of basketball there are two teams. Only five players from each team are allowed on the court at one time.

Start of the game

The referee starts the game with a “tip off”. When the ball is tossed into the air one player from each team attempts to gain possession to begin the play. The object is to move the ball along the court towards the basket. The players move toward the basket by bouncing (dribbling) the ball continuously or by passing to a teammate. The player with the ball must bounce the ball each time he or she takes a step. A player must not run with the ball in his or her hands but must either shoot or pass the ball when that happens.

The court

The basketball court is divided in half. One half is the team’s backcourt (defensive end); the other half, with the basket the team is shooting at, is called the front court  (offensive end). There are end lines and sidelines for out of bounds. The court is also marked with a three- point line, free throw lines outlining the key, and the center jump circle.

Who does what?

Your child’s coach will determine how best to organize players according to their skills and physical abilities. In the Novice, Atom and Major Atom levels the Equal Participation Rule allows for all players on the team to participate in the game. The coach will assign positions or roles at the start of a game but every player must be able to shoot and defend.

Other important roles

Officials: There are two, known as the referee and umpire
- their job is to ensure the game is played according to the rules.

Table Officials: This is the scorer and timekeeper
- usually a volunteer role and vital to the game.


There are two possible ways to score in the game:

A field goal: Which is scored from a play action within the three point line is worth two points.

Three point: A goal scored from outside the three-point line is worth three points. There is no three point shot scored in the Novice level.

A free throw: Worth one point, is awarded to a player who has been fouled. A free throw is shot from the free throw line with all the other players aligned along the key area. When a player is shooting a free throw the players and spectators are expected to be quiet, as a courtesy.


Fouls are assessed as a result of a violation of the rules and/or contact between players.

Personal Fouls: The most common fouls are Personal Fouls, which include: holding, pushing, charging and tripping. These usually result in a change of possession. Or, if the action is against a player who is in the process of shooting, the referee will award one or more free throws to the offensive player. When a player has been charged with more than five personal fouls he or she can no longer play in the game.

Violation: A lesser foul usually as a result of a player infringing the dribbling rule, or a team not leaving it’s own half within 10 seconds

Technical Foul: Can originate with players, coaches, assistant coaches and managers who are in violation of certain rules. Technical Fouls include: delay of play, coach’s violations and unethical, disrespectful or unsportsmanlike behaviour. These can result in two free throw shots and ball possession for the other team. Two technical fouls can result in ejection from the game and possible suspension from future games.