How Far Is a Kids Free Throw Line in Basketball?

Boy Shooting During Basketball Match In School Gym

While basketball is played by people of all ages, there are some rule differences for young players. Players age 11 and older generally play on a regulation-sized court. Rules for younger players often allow them to play on court with a shorter basket and a free throw line that is closer than regulation distance.

Basketball History

Games that resembled basketball had been played for hundreds of years, but it wasn't until 1892 that the first true basketball game was played in Springfield, Massachusetts. The inventor of basketball is recognized as Dr. James Naismith, who was searching for an indoor activity that could be played during winter. The very first basketball game took place on Jan. 20, 1892, and was played with nine players per team, a soccer ball and two peach baskets. As dribbling the ball was prohibited in Naismith's original rules, the games was low-scoring and only one basket was scored during the 30-minute contest.

The Court

A high school basketball court is 84 feet long and 50 feet wide, while a court used by junior high school students typically is 74 feet long and 42 feet wide. The foul line is 15 feet from the backboard for junior high school players and older. To teach proper shooting techniques, the Biddy League, for youth players, allows 7 to 8 year old players to use an 8-foot high basket. They use a free throw line that is 12 feet 10 inches from the backboard. Players 9 and 10 years old use a 9-foot basket and also shoot free throws 12 feet 10 inches from the backboard.

Smaller Ball Sizes

Younger players use a ball that is smaller and lighter than their older counterparts. The smaller balls range from 27.5 inches in diameter for players 7 to 8 years old to 29.5 inches in diameter for older boys. Older girls use a basketball that is 28.5 inches in diameter.

Length of Games

Another rule change for young players is a shorter game. Players in elementary school typically play games of two 14-minute halves. If overtime is required, they play an additional three minutes. Players of junior high school age and older play two 16 minute halves. If their games go into overtime, they play an additional four-minute overtime period.