What Are the Rules of Basketball?

In basketball, a team earns points when one of its players successfully shoots the ball through the opponent's hoop. The game has various fouls, which can result in free throws, change of possession or other consequences, depending on both the foul and the game situation. Basketball games typically have either halves or quarters, and the team with more points when the game ends is the winner.

Basketball courts have a three point line, and any successful shots from outside this line earn three points. Successful shots from inside the line earn two points.

Illegal physical contact is a common foul in basketball. Forms of illegal contact include pushing, holding or hitting another player. To move the ball, players must dribble it on the ground or pass it to another player. Taking too many steps without dribbling the ball is traveling, which results in the other team getting the ball. If the ball goes out of bounds, the last team to touch it loses possession.

Free throws occur when a player is fouled while shooting the ball, or when a team fouls after going over its foul limit for the half or quarter. The former results in two free throws for a two point shooting foul or three free throws for a three point shooting foul. The latter always results in two free throws. Each free throw is worth one point. If a player makes the shot when a shooting foul occurs, the team earns that shot's point value, and the player goes to the line for one free throw.