Basketball is an extremely popular sport. More people watch basketball than any other

sport in the United States. It is played in driveways, parking lots, back yards, streets,

high schools, colleges and professional arenas.  Basketballs popularity is not confined to

the United States. The game is also enjoyed internationally, with rules available in thirty

languages. Basketball is included among the Olympic sports.


In 1891, a physical education instructor at a YMCA Training School in Massachusetts invented

basketball as an indoor activity for boys. The game began with two peach baskets tied to

balconies and a soccer ball used to shoot baskets. Two years later, two college teams began to

play basketball. The games popularity has increased continuously ever since. The National

Basketball Association (NBA) is the largest professional sports league. It was created when the

Basketball Association of America and the National Basketball League merged in 1949.

The majority of professional players are recruited by the NBA from college ranks.



The game of basketball is easy to understand. Players try to prevent their opponents from

scoring while each team tries to get the ball through the basket that the other team is defending.

Although the game is not difficult to understand, a tremendous amount of mental and physical

endurance and skill is required from the five players on each team. A basketball team consists

of a center, two forwards and two guards. The forwards are positioned near the opposing teams

basket so that they can be ready for shooting and rebounding. The center is located near the

basket or near the free-throw line so that he/she can be ready for shooting and rebounding.

Guards normally bring the ball down the court to begin offensive play. The game begins with a

jump ball. The referee tosses the ball into the air. As it comes down, one player from each team

jumps upward in an attempt to tap the ball to a teammate. Once the ball is in play, team members

dribble the ball in order to get closer to the basket or pass it to another player. Dribblingthe

ball means bouncing it onthe floor repeatedly with one hand. Passingmeans throwing the ball

to a teammate. Passing is vital to scoring plays. In fact, most professionals consider good passing

to be almost as important as accurate shooting. When the ball is put into the basket, it is called

a field goaland two points are awarded to the team that scores. If the shot, however, was

taken past the three-point line, then three points are earned. The National Basketball Association

instituted a new distance of 20'-6" from the basket for the 3-point line. A free throwmeans

a toss from behind the freethrow line, with no interference from the opposing team. If a player

has been fouled by an opponent, the fouled player gets a free throw. If the free throw ball goes

into the basket, the team gets one point.  There are two types of fouls in basketballpersonal

fouls and technical fouls:

A personal foul means that a player holds, pushes or trips an opponent.

A technical foul may occur when the game is delayed, too many time-outs are taken, players

leave or enter the court illegally or participate in misbehavior such as disrespect toward

the referee.

A team may lose possession of the ball for traveling.Traveling occurs when a player runs

or walks with the ball. Double dribbling (bouncing the ball with both hands or stopping

dribbling, then starting again) can also cause a team to lose possession of the ball.


Professional basketball teams play four 12-minute quarters. College-level play amounts to

two 20-minute halves, and high school basketball is four 8-minute quarters. In the case of a

tie game, teams play overtime.  Professional teams play 5-minute overtimes. High school

and college teams play shorter overtimes.


The zone and player-to-player (once called man-to-man) systems are two defensive 

techniques. The zone system uses each player as a guard, protecting a specific zone near

the basket that his/her team is defending. Guarding the ball is more important than any

particular player in this type of defense. In the player-to-player (man-to-man) system, the

opposite is true. Each player guards a player from the opposing team in order to keep the

opposition from scoring.


The fast-break offensive style offers fast movement from one part of the court to another

and a chance for scoring. It is characterized by fast, quick passes down the court and using

more players on the attack than the opposition has for their defense. Slower, more deliberate

play characterizes the slowbreak style. This technique calls for more thoughtful action; players

maneuver carefully in order to shoot in this type of offense.



ONE-HAND SHOT A shot executed with both hands holding the ball initially. The ball is

then pushed into the basket with one hand.

HOOK SHOT The ball is thrown to the basket over one shoulder of the player who is handling

the ball. The center and forwards on a team will find this shot extremely valuable.

TWO-HANDED SHOT A shot usually made when a player is not close to the basket. The ball

is thrown with two hands.  This type of shot tends to be quite accurate.

JUMP SHOT A shot in which the player shoots the ball into the basket at the top of the jump.

LAY-UP A shot in which a basket is attempted from under the net; generally considered

one of the easier shots.

TIP-IN A shot in which the ball is tapped back into the basket as it rebounds from the backboard.

FREE-THROW A shot in which a player who has been fouled shoots from behind the free-throw line.


TWO-HANDED CHEST PASS A pass used for short, fast passing of distances up to twenty feet.

TWO-HANDED OVERHEAD PASS A popular pass that can be used from anywhere on the

court; especially good for closely-guarded players.

ONE-HANDED OVERHEAD PASS A pass used as a long pass from any position on the

court. Like all onehand passes, this move takes more time to perform and requires excellent control.

BOUNCE PASS This pass is used when two players are relatively close to each other.

The ball usually bounces once before being caught by the other player.

ONE-HAND UNDERHAND PASS An effective move when the passer is moving at fast

speeds; difficult to perform and should be used only when no alternative exists.


A basketball is about two and a half feet in circumference and weighs 22 ounces. Baskets

are made of a metal ring with an inside diameter of 18 inches. Netting or webbing hangs from

the ring. Two baskets, one at each end of the court, hang 10 feet above the floor. The standard

basketball court measures about 50 feet by 94 feet. Clothing is loose-fitting and designed for

freedom of movement. Contemporary longshortswere made popular by superstar Michael

Jordan of the Chicago Bulls. Shoes are specially designed to withstand pounding the floor in j

umps and other movements, as well as to brace the feet and ankles during violent lateral movements.


The Spurs will no longer be known as the San Antonio softies.After 26 years of frustration

and great teams that never produced a championship, San Antonio finally finished on top in 1999.

Both teams saved the best game of the NBA Finals for last with a thrilling 78-77 Spurs victory

over the New York Knicks. San Antonios run of success through the playoffs ended with a

missed shot by the Knicks at the buzzer, a celebration in front of a stunned Madison Square

Garden crowd and the Spursfirst NBA title. Duke and Notre Dame etched their names in the

annals of NCAA Tournament history in 2001. Shane Battier and Mike Dunleavy helped the Blue

Devils earn their 82-72 victory over Arizona in the mens final in MinneapolisMetrodome. And

“March Madnesscame to an exciting end in St. Louis, where Ann Meyers Drysdale saw seniors

Ruth Riley and Kelley Siemon lead the Irish to a 68-66 win over Indiana state rival Purdue.

Jordan is back for the 2001-2002 pro basketball season. But this time he is playing for the

Washington Wizards. His supporting cast has no Pippens, Grants, Paxsons, or Rodmans, and

he doesnt wear a Bulls uniformany longer. Hes 38 years old and not yet the shape he wants

to be in, but he is still No. 23 and he is still Michael Jordan. He finished his first game with the

Wizards with 19 points against the Knicks, but it still wasnt enough for a team victory. In fact,

Jordan had the game in his hands during the final seconds with the Knicks leading 91-88 and

couldnt close. At the summer 2000 Olympics in Sydney the medal results were as follows:

Women:Gold - USA, Silver - Australia, and Bronze - Brazil.

Men: Gold - USA, Silver -France, and Bronze - Lithuania.


The following questions will help you to have a greater appreciation and understanding

of basketball. Write your answers in the spaces below the questions. If there is not

enough room, write on the backs of these sheets. Be neat, spell correctly, and write in

complete sentences.

1. What are some of the physical benefits of playing basketball?

2. True or False: More people watch basketball than any other sport in the United States.

3. What is the object in any game of basketball?

4. What comprises a team in basketball? How many players and what positions?

5. How does any game of basketball begin?

6. What is a field goal?

7. Name at least three types of shots.

8. Name at least three types of passes.

9. Name two defense techniques.

10. What is the difference between a fast-break and slow-break offensive style?

Short Answer Questions:

1. Height in feet of the basket above the floor

2. A professional game is made up of four of these

3. A defensive technique that uses each player to guard a specific area

4. A ____ throw is worth one point if it goes in the basket

5. One of the five players - usually the tallest

6. Inside diameter in inches of a basketball rim

7. Number of players on a basketball team

8. A player's hand is above the rim when the ball is slammed through the hoop

9. One of the two types of fouls

10. This person controls the game by calling the fouls and determining who gets the ball

11. A basketball team usually has two of these (shorter) players

12. You are on ______ when the other team has the ball

13. A _____ goal is when a player shoots the ball into the basket for two or three points

14. State in which basketball was invented

15. You are on _____ when your team has the ball

16. This type of foul can be called on a player for bad conduct

17. A type of shot where the ball is thrown over one shoulder

18. There are usually two of these players on the team - often good at rebounding

19. When one grabs the ball after a missed shot

20. Acronym for the worlds largest basketball association