The rules of basketball are the rules that make the game happen and regulate the entire game play, equipment, and other procedures. The rules have changed since they were first published by James Naismith in 1892. He didn’t imagine the game to include dribbling, dunking, shot clock or three-pointers. Today the rules of the game are more complex and include more features that make the game as exciting as it is.

The objective

1The purpose of the game is very simple: to put the ball in the opponent’s basket. The winning team is the team which scores the most points during the game.


The game is divided in four periods of 10 minutes, named quarters. Extra time will be added if the scores are tied, until one team has more points than the other.

Number of players

In a basketball match play two teams of maximum 12 players. On each team’s court can be 5 players at any time. The players can be substituted in the game as many times as wanted or as needed.

Player positions

Center: usually the tallest players, are positioned near the basket. Their main goal is to be open for a pass and to shoot, block the defenders and are expected to get offensive rebounds and putbacks. The centers defend the basket by blocking the opponent’s shoots, and get rebounds because they are taller.

Forward: next tallest players operate the wings and corner areas of the field, and may be called upon to play under the hoop. Forwards are responsible to get free for a pass, take outside shots and drive for goals and to prevent drives to the goal and rebounding.

Guard: potentially the shortest players, they should be good at dribbling fast, seeing the court and pass. The main responsibilities are dribbling, passing, and setting up offensive plays. Guards steal the passes, contest shots, prevent drives to the hoops and boxing out.

Moving the ball

The ball is bounced while walking or running. It is passed from player to player or dribbled. The team in possession of the ball that crossed the court line may cross back over the line with the ball. The player who has the ball needs to take two steps without dribbling before passing the ball.


A goal scored from the three-point arc is worth 2 points. A basket scored from beyond the three-point arc is worth 3 points, and one scored from the free-throw line is worth 1 point.


Fouls include personal fouls that are hitting, pushing, slapping, holding, illegal picks. A player who makes more than 5 personal fouls is excluded from the game. If a foul is made on a player that is shooting, he gets 2 free throws. If fouled while not shooting, the ball goes to the team the foul was committed upon. If a team has made 4 fouls in a period of time, each additional foul will result in awarding the other team with 2 free-throws.