Basketball is a team sport, the objective being to shoot a ball through a basket horizontally positioned to score points while following a set of rules. Usually, two teams of five players play on a marked rectangular court with a basket at each width end. Basketball is one of the world’s most popular and widely viewed sports.
A regulation basketball hoop consists of a rim 18 inches in diameter and 10 feet high mounted to a backboard. A team can score a field goal by shooting the ball through the basket during regular play. A field goal scores two points for the shooting team if a player is touching or closer to the basket than the three-point line, and three points (known commonly as a 3 pointer or three) if the player is behind the three-point line. The team with the most points at the end of the game wins, but additional time (overtime) may be issued when the game ends with a draw. The ball can be advanced on the court by bouncing it while walking or running (dribbling) or throwing (passing) it to a team mate. It is a violation to move without dribbling the ball (travelling), to carry it, or to hold the ball with both hands then resume dribbling (double dribble).
Various violations are generally called “fouls”. Disruptive physical contact (a personal foul) is penalized, and a free throw is usually awarded to an offensive player if he is fouled while shooting the ball. A technical foul may also be issued when certain infractions occur, most commonly for unsportsmanlike conduct on the part of a player or coach. A technical foul gives the opposing team a free throw, and the opposing team is also retained possession of the ball.
Basketball has evolved many commonly used techniques of shooting, passing, dribbling, and rebounding, as well as specialized player positions and offensive and defensive structures (player positioning) and techniques. Typically, the tallest members of a team will play “center”, “power forward” or “small forward” positions, while shorter players or those who possess the best ball handling skills and speed play “point guard” or “shooting guard”.
While competitive basketball is carefully regulated, numerous variations of basketball have developed for casual play. Competitive basketball is primarily an indoor sport played on a carefully marked and maintained basketball court, but less regulated variations are often played outdoors in both inner city and remote areas.