The game of basketball begins with when five players from each of two opposing teams line up in their respective positions for the tip off of the game.
Each team wants to gain the first possession of the ball. This happens when two opposing players - usually each team’s best jumper - line up face-to-face on either side of center court line.
The game officially begins when the referee blows the initiating whistle and tosses the basketball straight up in the air. Both players jump for the ball in an attempt to tip the ball to one of the other players on their team who are positioned in their predetermined spot.
Each team’s ultimate objective offensively, is to score as many points as possible in the time allotted, while on defense limiting their opponent to as little points as possible.
Depending upon region, different league or conference rules, and level (i.e., youth, middle school, high school, college, pro.), the duration of any particular game may be made up of four quarters or two halves. And the time allotted for each of these could vary. Also, a basketball game can be extended because of a tie at the end of regulation (original time limit), and be forced to go into overtime(s) until a final outcome is reached. Also keep in mind that in some areas, and at some levels the basic rules of basketball may not be adhered to as tightly as in others.
On Offense, a team is seeking to take advantage of the opposing team’s inability, or mistakes on defense, in order to put the ball through the hoop for 1, 2, or 3 Points. This scoring can come by way of the jump-shot, a lay-up, or free-throw. An Offense may do this by using a set offense with a lot of different movements and options, or by using what are known as set plays which are easier to perform, and have a few specific options in each play.
Note: Most Youth Leagues do not count the three-pointer at the lower levels.
In return, it is the Defense's job to take advantage of the other team’s inability, or mistakes on offense as well; and in so doing, to regain possession of the basketball rather than allowing them to score. This is accomplished by a team implementing whatever defensive plan they have found to be the most successful for them. This defense could be made up of the five players being responsible for guarding anyone in a specific area of the court -
, or each player having a certain opposing player to guard at all times, anywhere on the court -
. Teams may also use a combination of both Man and Zone, such as a Triangle-2 or a Box-1.
On a Dead Ball* the clock does not start until the ball is put into play. This is done when a player from a given team throws the ball in bounds to another player on their team from a spot Out of Bounds*, or when the ball is touched on a live rebound. Ball never becomes live until ball is touched by a player on the court. Exact spot where a player stands to throw ball in will always be dictated by the referee,and can be on the Baseline*, or Sideline*, depending on the spot where a violation occurred.
Ball/Play is considered dead after any situation in which the Referee blows whistle for any reason (Any Violation, Score-keeping malfunction, basketball goes out of bounds). And it is not deemed to be a live ball again until it is put back into play.
Ball/Play is considered live after initial jump-ball up until anytime the referee blows whistle, time is called, or time clock expires for any given quarter, half, or game. Note: Ball is still considered live, and clock continues to run when a team scores a point in a live ball situation (i.e. lay-up, jump-shot, etc.).
FOULS* against either team are recorded in the official books (Home and Visitors) at scorer’s table. Foul is logged against individual player according to their jersey #. Player is only allowed five fouls (unless pro.) before they must be removed from the game.
What type of violation, and # of player who committed it, is at the sole discretion of the referee.
Normal foul situations are known as team fouls. While others may include technical fouls for behavior such as flagrant fouls, which are considered to be intentional and too rough, or unsportsmanlike conduct. Both flagrant and unsportsmanlike conduct can be grounds for ejection from game, and possible suspension for a time, depending upon severity of violation.
After seven team fouls have been committed by a team, the opposing player who was fouled is allowed to shoot a free-throw in what is known as a 1 AND 1*. After ten team fouls have been accrued, player who was fouled gets the opportunity to shoot 2 SHOTS*, and so on, for any fouls committed thereafter.