Basketball: The Basics

WORDS TO KNOW

Hustle

The term “hustle” means try harder, never give up. When coaches yell for their players to hustle during practices and games, they are telling their players to keep working hard and not slack off.

Rebound

Getting the ball after it hits the rim on an unsuccessful shot on either the defensive or offensive end.

Assist

A pass that sets up a successful basket. The player who made that pass is credited with an assist. Usually, the point guard will be the team leader in assists.

Steal

When you take the ball from the other team, it is recorded for statistical purposes as a steal. You can intercept a pass or actually take it from a player who is dribbling carelessly or out of control. Racking up a lot of steals shows you are a good defender.

Basketball can seem like a very complex game. Maybe you've seen a coach draw a squiggly diagram to show what he wants to do. If you've watched the game on TV, you've probably noticed that the commentators draw lines on the screen during a game to show what happened. How do all of these people know exactly what's going on? Simple! At its core, basketball isn't that hard. It's about hustling on defense and offense, paying attention, taking good shots, and making good passes. If you can do all of those things, you're well on your way to becoming a good basketball player. To be the best you can be, you'll need to focus on fundamentals and practice proper technique.

The goal in playing the game is even simpler: Score more points than your opponent. Some people say the goal is to make more baskets than your opponents, but since some baskets are worth three points and others are worth two — and free throws are worth only one — that's not always the case.

Basketball is played on a court with a basketball hoop at each end. There are five players for each team on the court at a time. Unlike sports like football, players need to be able to play both offense and defense. They need to be able to make baskets to give their team points, but they also need to be able to stop the other team from making baskets at the other end of the court. To be a good offensive player, you'll need to know how to dribble, pass, rebound, and shoot. On defense, you'll need to know how to rebound, steal, and play all-around good defense, which means never getting lazy.

Basketball is a fun sport because even if you miss the first time you go out and shoot, by the end of an hour or two you'll be making shots fairly often if you pay attention to your form. You can also get pretty good at dribbling in a hurry. Basketball is a sport that many people play because it's easy to learn and there are usually basketball hoops in parks, schools, gyms, and even driveways.

Basketballs vary in size. College and professional players use larger balls than kids. The women's basketball is slightly smaller than the one the men play with. You can usually get a good basketball at your favorite local discount store. If you are using it outside, make sure you get one made out of a synthetic or rubber-like cover rather than the leather ball used for indoor courts; these balls are more durable than the ones you use indoors. Once you have some athletic shoes and a ball, you are ready to get started.

FUN FACTS

Basketball was embraced as a U.S. high school sport in the early 1900s for one reason: It didn't cost much to provide equipment and space to play. Student athletes needed only tennis shoes, T-shirts, and shorts, and schools installed backboards, hoops, and painted lines on playgrounds and in high school gymnasiums.

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