2.2 Playing the game

The coach must ensure that their players know the rules of basketball and that they teach skills in a way that adheres to“legal” execution within the rules. A summary of some key rules is included in this chapter.

The game is played by two teams:

  • Teams have 5 players each on the court
  • Teams may have another 5-7 players who are substitutes.
  • There is an unlimited number of substitutions, however any substitution must be done during a break in play and is administered by the officials. Players cannot simply run on and off.
  • A “foul” is called if there is unlawful contact. A player that has 5 fouls cannot take any further part in that game (in some competitions players may have 6 fouls).

Teams score points by shooting the ball into their opponent’s basket. The ball must enter the basket from above and must pass through the basket to count.

There is an arc on the court and a shot from outside this arc (if successful) is worth 3 points. All other shots taken during play are worth 2 points if successful.

A player may also be awarded 1, 2 or 3 “free throws” and these are worth one point each if successfully made. Free throws are awarded as a result of a foul being called:

- for contact on an offensive player that is in the act of shooting;
- for contact on any player if the team committing the foul has already accumulated 4 fouls in the quarter.

When a team scores, their opponent is awarded the ball to be thrown in from the baseline. The team has 5 seconds to throw the ball into play. The referee does not need to touch the ball.

Players may venture to any part of the court and all players may use the ball in the same way during the game. When moving around the court:

  • The sidelines and endlines are out of bounds. If a player has the ball and stands on the line, the ball is out of bounds.
  • When a player jumps, while they are in the air, they are regarded as being on the spot of the floor where they jumped. It is only when they land that they are on another spot on the floor. Some practical examples of this are:
  • If a player is standing in court and jumps to stop a ball from going out of bounds. If they catch the ball while they are in the air (even if the ball has crossed the line), they can throw the ball back into play. Because they jumped from inside the court, the ball is not out of bounds.
  • Similarly, if a player is standing outside of the court and jumps into the court, catching the ball while they are in the air. The ball is out of bounds (even if the player had crossed the line) because the player jumped from outside the court and is regarded as being outside until they have landed in court.
  • If a player has the ball outside the 3 point line, jumps in the air to shoot the ball (and releases the ball while in the air) and then lands inside the 3 point line, the shot is worth 3 points if successful.