Introduction to Basketball

Basketball is one of the world's most popular sports and is played by two teams of five players each. The aim of each team is to score in the opponent's basket and to prevent the other team from scoring.

Top level basketball is a fast-moving test of speed, skill and hand-eye coordination, with play rapidly switching from one end of the court to the other.

A crowd pleasing shot is the "slam dunk", where a player flies through the air and powerfully forces the ball downwards through the hoop.

There is plenty more for spectators to enjoy, with the high speed skills of dribbling, passing and shooting made all the more impressive by the size of the players. Height is a big advantage in basketball, especially for the forwards, who are expected to score the majority of the baskets.


Basketball has one of the shortest histories of any sport being played at the 15th Asian Games, as the sport was only created at end of the 19th century in the US. Dr James Naismith invented basketball in December 1891 as an indoor game to keep YMCA students fit during the winter months at Springfield College in Massachusetts.

Basketball swiftly spread through YMCA organisations across the US, where it made an early appearance at the Olympic Games as a demonstration sport at St. Louis in 1904.

Basketball was one of the six sports at the first Asian Games at New Delhi in 1951, with the Philippines taking the gold medal. In the US, basketball took off as a big-money professional sport with the founding of the National Basketball Association (NBA) in 1946.

There was renewed interest at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, when professional players were allowed for the first time. The US fielded the so-called Dream Team of highly paid NBA stars, including Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, winning games by record margins.


The international game is played on a court measuring 28m long by 15m wide, with a basket at each end, positioned 3.05m high and 1.2m inside the endline. Teams score by dropping the ball through their opponents' basket; scoring two points, or three points for a long range throw made from outside a 6.25m arc.

The game consists of four periods of 10 minutes. There are intervals of two minutes between the first and the second period (first half), between the third and fourth period (second half) and before each extra period.

The half-time interval lasts 15 minutes. In the event of a tie, five minutes overtime is played.

Players can move the ball forward by passing, shooting or dribbling (bouncing the ball when running). Kicking or punching the ball is not allowed. Ball carriers can only dribble with their hand on top of the ball, and cannot move both feet at the same time, or catch the ball between dribbles.

Basketball is a non-contact sport and a foul is called when a player physically clashes with an opponent. After a foul, the referee can award a side ball or uncontested free throws to the opposition as a penalty.