The game of basketball is played with a round ball by two teams, each with five players usually two guards, two forwards and a centre (or in modern basketball lingo point guard, wings and post players).
The referee starts the game by tossing the ball up (a jump ball) between the two opposing centre players, who stand facing each other at the centre circle of the playing arc. The player who wins the ball may then pass, throw, tap, roll or dribble the ball in any direction, subject to the official rules. The aim of the game is to throw the ball through the opponent's basket while pre-venting the other team from getting the ball and scoring goals.
Shooting the ball through the basket scores two points for a field goal, three points for a field goal made from outside the three-point line drawn on the court and one point for a free throw. Naturally enough, the team with the most points at the end of the game wins.
The game consists of two halves, each of 20 minutes, with a ten-minute break between halves. If scores are level at the allotted 40 minutes, there is a two-minute break followed by an extra period of five minutes of play.
You cannot run with the ball - this is called travelling. Nor can you take more than one step while holding the ball. If you stop dribbling, the ball can only be moved by a pass or shot at the basket. If you start dribbling again, you will be penalized for double dribbling. Each team is allowed up to five substitutes, who must stay off the court until the coach decides to replace an on-court player (known as making a substitution). Substitutions may be made at time-outs, jump balls or when play is stopped for a foul. If they do decide to make such a substitution, their opponents can also make a substitution.
Generally speaking, basketball is a non-contact game, although contact which gives no one an unfair advantage can occur. You must not hold, push, charge, trip or impede the progress of an opponent by using your arm, shoulder, hip or knee or by bending your body out of a normal position, or use any rough tactics. If you do, you will be charged with a personal foul. When there is contact, the referee makes a decision with the following basic principles in mind:
· You must avoid contact in any possible way.
· You are entitled to a normal empty position on the court as long as you don't cause contact in taking your court position.
· If a contact foul occurs, the foul is caused by the player who is responsible for the contact.
· The player causing the contact must not gain any advantage from it.