Basketball Facts & Rules

Group of young people playing basketball, elevated view

Basketball has grown into a wildly popular sport and is played with five players on each team. The purpose is to score more points than the other team before time runs out. Points are given for each made basket with various other rules in place. There are also some differences between the high school, college and professional levels.


A line is drawn around the basket, measuring 23 feet 9 inches away at the top of the key and 22 feet away at the corners. Baskets in front of this line are awarded two points, and those behind the line are awarded three. Free-throws, worth one point, are given for fouls -- generally excessive contact with an opponent. They are taken without interference at the free-throw line -- 15 feet away.


You may only use one hand at a time when dribbling. Once you pick up your dribble, you are allowed two steps and may not dribble again. You must stay in bounds when in possession of the ball and after crossing half court; you are not allowed to dribble back onto your opponent's side of the court.

High School, College and the Pros

Regulation lasts for four 12-minute quarters in the National Basketball Association. High school basketball uses four 8-minute quarters. College basketball has two 20-minute halves. In high school and in women's college basketball, the three-point line is 19 feet 9 inches away. For men's college basketball, the line extends to 20 feet 9 inches.