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The basketball court at a home game of Alba Berlin in the O2-World Berlin
Basketball game on an outdoor court in Beijing

Basketball is a ball sport that is mostly played indoors , in which two teams try to throw the ball into their opponent 's basket . The baskets are 3.05 meters high on the two narrow sides of the pitch. A team typically consists of five outfield players (although there are other variations such as the increasingly popular 3v3 variant) and up to seven substitutes, who can change as often as they like. Each hit in the basket from play counts two or three points, depending on the distance. A free throw scores one point. The team with the higher number of points wins.

Basketball was originally invented in 1891 by Canadian doctor and educator James Naismith as an indoor sport for YMCA students and quickly spread worldwide through the YMCA. The sport has been Olympic for men since 1936 and for women since 1976 . Today, the sport of basketball has a high status globally, especially in the United States , China , the Philippines , Lithuania and southern Europe , and is also present in a few other countries such as e.g. B. Canada , Australia and much of Latin America and Central and Eastern Europe popular. By far the most popular and professional league in the world is the North American NBA . Every four years, a basketball world championship takes place in a different country, which is organized by the world basketball association FIBA .

According to FIBA, around 450 million people play basketball worldwide. The most successful athletes are among the highest paid professional athletes internationally.


The invention of basketball

James Naismith (far right) coaching the University of Kansas team, 1899

Basketball is one of the few sports that was invented by a single person. The Canadian doctor and educator James Naismith developed the ball game in 1891 in Springfield (Massachusetts) as an indoor sport for his students. Naismith recognized that the combative nature of other ball sports comes from having everything happening on the same plane (such as American football ). He was looking for a less competitive sport with a low risk of injury to distract the 18 students in the class over the winter. So he moved the baskets to another level, 1½ meters above the players. Janitor Pop Stabbins was tying peach baskets to the 10-foot balconies at Springfield's YMCA Training School. The hanging height, which was determined more randomly at the time, was 3.05 meters and is still internationally valid today. The balls were retrieved with a stick; It was not until 1906 that the net, which is still open at the bottom, was introduced.

In order to prevent spectators from the gallery from being able to influence shots, a board was mounted behind each basket. School secretary Lyons helped Naismith draw up the 13 Principles , which were published in Springfield Collge's school newspaper on January 15, 1892, and have remained almost unchanged to this day. The first official basketball game took place on January 20, 1892 in Springfield. In the two halves of the game, with a half-time break of five minutes, only one goal was usually scored. Despite this low hit rate, basketball prevailed in the United States.

Women's basketball was introduced to Smith College the following year . Senda Berenson Abbott had a big impact on women's basketball at this time by changing the basic rules developed by James Naismith and adapting them to women. On March 22, 1893, the first women's basketball game was played at Smith College. Senda Berenson then published a magazine specializing in women's basketball.

Formation of the first teams

The Buffalo Germans , winners of the Pan American Championships in 1903

In the years that followed, panel balls , similar to today's volleyballs, were initially used. Since the rule back then was that a ball landed off the field would gain possession of whichever team reaches it first, players would often leap into the stands without heeding the spectators. So that the ball couldn't get out of bounds in the first place, the basketball court was fenced off with a cage made of chicken wire. These "basketball cages" gave the sport its nickname " cage game " . Barney Sedran, a New York Whirlwinds player, described how uncomfortable playing in the cages was: "Most of us were cut all the time, and the court was covered in blood."

At the beginning of the 20th century, the first famous teams formed, which were later inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame . The Buffalo Germans were among the strongest teams at the YMCA. In 1904, the Germans demonstrated basketball in exhibition games at the III. Olympic Games in St. Louis . It is doubtful whether basketball was an official Olympic competition at all, after all, no national teams competed in the Olympic Games that ran for several months on the sidelines of the World Exhibition , this was not to happen until 1936 in Berlin. Along with the Germans, the Original Celtics were one of the most influential teams from the second decade of the 20th century. In the 1920s, the Celtics were joined by other teams such as the New York Renaissance and the Cleveland Rosenblums . In 1925, the American Basketball League (abbreviated: ABL) was founded, which changed the game of basketball in some areas. The chicken or metal wire was abolished and replaced by ropes. In addition, the backboard behind the baskets was officially introduced.

college basketball

Kent Benson , Indiana University Bloomington basketball player hook shot

Soon after basketball was invented in 1891, the sport became popular in colleges and universities across the United States. The first basketball game between two college teams took place on April 8, 1893 in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania . Geneva College was able to win against the New Brighton YMCA that day . The first basketball games were initially played with seven or nine players per team. On January 18, 1896, the first game with the current game system of only five players took place in Iowa City , the University of Chicago won this game by 15-12 points against the University of Iowa .

Over the next several years, college basketball grew in popularity throughout the United States. The most respected universities (such as Columbia University ) and colleges had sponsored and supported their teams. Due to the numerous college teams, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA for short) was founded in Chicago in 1906. After the Amateur Athletic Union tournament moved to Denver, Dr. In 1937, Naismith, together with Emil Liston and other citizens of the sister cities on the Missouri, organized the forerunner of the NAIA tournament of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics in Kansas City, Missouri. College basketball had been a lucrative staple at Madison Square Garden since the early 1930 's, giving rise to the National Invitation Tournament (NIT) hosted there in 1938, which would remain the premier invitational college tournament into the 1970's. The first NCAA Division I men's basketball championship tournament was played in Evanston, Illinois , in 1939 in front of a crowd of 5,500 . The University of Oregon defeated the opposing team Ohio State University 46–33 in the finals.

One of the most memorable college basketball games, the Secret Game , took place on a Sunday morning, March 12, 1944, between the white team from Duke University Military Medical School and the black team from North Carolina Central University (NCCU), then North Carolina College for Negroes (NCC), in Durham, North Carolina . It wasn't until March 31, 1996 that this game became widely known when Scott Ellsworth, a historian and Duke graduate, published an article in the New York Times in which he, among other things, noted that the game "has become symbolic of how resistance to Jim Crow occurred outside the traditional civil rights movement". In 2015 he brought the story of this game under the title The Secret Game. A Wartime Story of Courage, Change, and Basketball's Lost Triumph as a book.

College basketball fell sharply in credibility and popularity in 1948–51. This was mainly due to numerous scandals and rule violations. Most serious was the so-called point shaving scandal, which involved players from numerous teams that had played at Madison Square Garden . The players had accepted bribes in order to manipulate the points spread wagered on to match the bets. Colleges included Manhattan College , City College , Bradley University , and the University of Kentucky , among others . A total of 32 people were convicted and all players were banned for life. Not even ten years later there was a match fixing scandal involving twenty colleges. In 1981, Henry Hill , the mastermind behind the mafia film Goodfellas and a participant in the December 1978 Lufthansa robbery , admitted to having paid Boston College players to rig the scores of numerous games in the 1970s . The next point shaving scandal, in which even coaches are said to have been involved, occurred shortly thereafter at Tulane University . Three students were sentenced to prison terms and the university president disbanded the basketball team - for three years.

The (banned) compensation of college players in the college basketball business, which is worth millions, is also an issue again and again, most recently in 2017 in the exploitation of this ban in the scandal surrounding the suspended Louisville head coach Rick Pitino , Adidas manager Jim Gatto and bribery payments to and Escort services for high school players. Not to mention academic fraud and fake grades.

Women 's basketball developed late in colleges and universities. In 1926, the Amateur Athletic Union organized the first women's basketball championship. And from the 1930s onwards, more and more basketball challenge games between women and men were organized by professional teams, such as the African-American Philadelphia Tribune Girls or the All American Red Heads of the Hall of Fame , which existed until 1986 the rules prescribed for men's basketball have always been used. In 1971, a year before Title IX of the 1972 Education Amendment against sexual discrimination, the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women was founded at the college level, in which Delta State University and the Mighty Macs of Immaculata College (now the university) achieved great success celebrated and from which the finals were shown on television from the mid-1970s. In the final AIAW season, 1981-82, both the NCAA and NAIA offered Division 1 competitive championships, which still exist today, causing the organization to lose massive traction until it dissolved in 1983. The last women's professional league was the NBA-operated Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA for short), which was founded in 1996 and continues to exist during the NBA's summer break to this day.

The emergence of the NBA

On May 6, 1946, the Basketball Association of America (BAA for short) was founded. Walter Brown, then president of the Boston Bruins, and Eddie Gottlieb , boxing promoter and owner of the Philadelphia SPHAs , are among the founding members of this league. The Philadelphia Warriors (later: Golden State Warriors ) won the league's first series of finals with 4–1 wins over the Chicago Stags . In 1949, this league merged with the National Basketball League (NBL for short) and was renamed the National Basketball Association (NBA for short). The most famous players of the 1940s were Bob Davies and George Mikan .

As the owner of the Fort Wayne Pistons (later Detroit Pistons ), American entrepreneur Fred Zollner introduced many changes to the basketball arena. Since 1952, his team has been transported to basketball games by team plane. He helped the BAA and NBA financially and was involved in major rule changes (e.g. shot clock ). On October 1, 1999, he was inducted as a promoter into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame .

basketball today

Basketball made great progress in global perception in 1992, when professionals were admitted to the Olympic Games in Barcelona for the first time and the American national team (also known as the Dream Team ) began its legendary triumphal march. In the years that followed, basketball's presence in the media grew steadily. Well-known basketball players such as Michael Jordan represented this sport in well-known advertising campaigns or on the covers of various magazines.

The sport of basketball is widespread in many countries around the world. Most European countries have their own basketball league and in many countries there are more and more training camps that teach the basic principle and the way of playing to the normal player. In addition to the championships and games, there are also numerous events (e.g. the "And1 Mixtape" tour) which are sponsored by companies and serve as entertainment.

Basketball international

Tibor Pleiß , Germany international at a Saski Baskonia vs. Montepaschi Siena match.

At the beginning of the 20th century, basketball was introduced in different countries of the world. The first game on French soil took place in Paris in 1893. In 1902, the rules written by James Naismith were translated into German for the first time. Four years later, basketball was introduced to Italy. In 1913, the ball sport was warmly welcomed and celebrated in Puerto Rico . In the years that followed, basketball was presented in many other countries (including 1916 in Bulgaria and 1917 in Albania and Greece ).

In 1923 the first national men's championship was held in the Soviet Union. By the late 1920s, basketball was enjoying increasing popularity. In 1930, the first men's continental championship was held in South America from December 6th to 14th, with Uruguay beating Argentina . The first step towards international acceptance of this sport was taken in 1930 when the International Olympic Committee (IOC) accepted basketball as an Olympic sport. In 1932, eight national federations founded the basketball world federation FIBB in Geneva , from 1935–1986 Fédération Internationale de Basketball Amateur [FIBA] (see federations and leagues ). The World Basketball Federation controls the international championships and the Olympic tournament and sets the international rules. In 1958, FIBA ​​introduced the European Cup for National Champions (men) and in 1959 for National Champions (women).

From 1932 basketball found its way into Germany, first by Hugo Murero at the army sports school in Wünsdorf, then in Breslau and Gera and from 1933 in Bad Kreuznach by Hermann Niebuhr . He got to know basketball as a teacher at the German School in Istanbul. In 1935 he founded the first basketball department at Vfl 1848 Bad Kreuznach . Also in 1935, a German university selection took part in the basketball tournament of the Academic World Games in Budapest. In 1936, Germany took part in the first Olympic basketball tournament in Berlin at the last minute; all three games were lost. In 1939 the first German championship for men took place in Hamburg. The Air Force Sports Club (LSV) Spandau won the title. Germany played 19 international matches from 1936 to 1942, winning 4 matches.

In the Third Reich, basketball was subordinate to the Department 4 Handball/Basketball of the German, later National Socialist Reichsbund for physical exercise. After the end of the Second World War, the first basketball games took place in autumn 1945. After two predecessor organizations, the “ German Basketball Federation ” (DBB) was founded in Düsseldorf on October 1, 1949 as an independent organization in the Federal Republic. Since then, this national association has been responsible for hosting the German basketball championship. In the GDR, there was first the basketball section, from 1958 the German Basketball Association. In 1953, both associations sent an all-German team to the European Men's Championships in Moscow. With the founding of the Basketball Bundesliga (BBL for short) in 1966, a professional basketball league was introduced in Germany for the first time. In 1993, Germany won the European Championship against Russia 71-70 in Munich.

Basketball was officially played in 1936 at the 1936 Berlin Olympics . The game was divided into two halves of 20 minutes each and played on the tennis courts of the Reichssportfeld . In the final, the American national team beat Canada 19:8. In 1950, the first official Men's Basketball World Championship was held in Buenos Aires , Argentina . The Argentine basketball team was able to prevail against the USA in the final.

Three years later, the first official " Women's Basketball World Championship " took place in Santiago de Chile . Here the team from the USA was able to assert itself against the hosts. Since 1976 (Montreal), women's basketball has also been competing for Olympic medals.

Basketball is one of the most popular sports in the world today and has gained popularity in many regions of the world, including European countries such as B. Spain , the Baltic States, the States of the former Yugoslavia , Greece , Turkey and Israel , but also in some South American countries (e.g. Mexico , Brazil , Venezuela , Puerto Rico and Argentina ) and some countries of Southeast Asia (especially China , the Philippines and Taiwan ) as well as in Australia and New Zealand . At the 2006 Men's Basketball World Cup in Japan, the Spanish basketball team beat the Greek team 70-47. In the previous basketball world championships, countries such as Serbia and Croatia , Yugoslavia or, for women and men, Russia and the Soviet Union were very successful. The US national team was world champion in 2010 and 2014 , and Spain for the second time in 2019 .


cue ball


The ball has been developed and improved over the last hundred years. In the first two years of basketball, panel balls were used . These panel balls were comparable to current volleyballs. From 1894 through the 1940s, laced basketballs were used in tournaments and games. The "typical" shape of the basketball lines was already visible.

The current basketball is made of synthetic material or leather, as well as nylon threads.

In men's competitions, the official match ball has a circumference of 749 to 780 millimeters (size 7) and a weight of 567 to 650 grams.

Since the 2004/05 season, the German women's basketball league has played with a ball that has a circumference of 724 to 737 millimeters (size 6) and weighs 510 to 567 grams.


In the first half of the 20th century, players wore wool jerseys and trousers. Wearing knee, elbow and shin pads during the game was also mandatory. This was mainly due to the hard style of play and the poor condition of the arenas. During the 1960s, player clothing changed significantly. Jerseys became more comfortable and freer, and cloth trousers were replaced by comfortable short shorts.

Basketball shoes have also changed since then. At first, the players wore impractical leather shoes. In the 1980s, the first stars were contractually committed to sporting goods manufacturers such as Nike , Adidas , Puma and Converse .

game principle

Dimensions of the board
Important terms regarding the basketball court

The object of the game is to dribbling (tapping the ball on the ground) or passing the ball into the opponent's half of the field and throwing it into the opponent's basket. The basketball must fall from above into the basket, which is 3.05 meters high. The ball can also be played over the board. A successful shot, lay -up or dunk is usually scored with two points. A shot from beyond the three-point line is worth three points, and a free throw is worth one point. The winner of the competition is the team that has scored more points than the opponent at the end of the game. In the event of a tie, overtime will be played for five minutes. This is repeated until there is a winner.


Basketball games are always played on a rectangular court with a hard surface. For FIBA 's official main competitions , the dimensions of the playing field must be 28 meters by 15 meters. It is divided by different circles, lines and zones that have their own function. Here are the most important of them:

  • The touchlines and the end lines (called "baseline") delimit the field of play. If the ball touches any of these lines or the area outside of these lines, it is out. The same applies if the player holding or just touching the ball touches the line or the outside area with any part of the body.
  • The center line divides the field into two equal halves. If the team in possession has brought the ball into the attacking half, the so-called "court", when attacking, the center line is treated as an out-of-bounds line (see "Return leg").
  • The center circle is drawn around the middle of the center line with a radius of 1.80 meters, which is used at the beginning of a game to execute the jump ball.
  • A rectangle, the so-called "zone", is drawn under the baskets. The zone is i.a. important for the fact that players of the attacking team are not allowed to remain in it continuously for more than 3 seconds.
  • This rectangle is followed by a semicircle which, together with its line to the zone, the so-called "free throw line", is important for the execution of free throws.
  • The so-called "three-point line", which forms a large semicircle (radius from the basket: 6.75 m) with flattened sides outside the zone, marks the distance from which a successful throw to the basket is scored as three points.
  • The no-charging semicircle under the basket marks an area where charging fouls by an attacking player will not be penalized.


Two teams, each with five field players, play on the field. The initial formation of a team is also known as the Starting Five (German: Starting Five or, for short , First Five ). It doesn't always have to be the five best-performing and best players on the team. However, it is considered absolutely essential to have a strong and balanced bank. Bench players are often veterans or role-players who, in critical situations, are supposed to provide the necessary – and at that moment needed – impulses in the game. This can e.g. B. through three-point shots, fast play, ball security, special defense tasks or simply a strong rebound presence. Players can be changed an unlimited number of times. A change is possible during any game interruption.


Position designations in basketball
guards Basketball half court 1. Point Guard (PG)
2. Shooting Guard (SG)
Forwards 3. Small Forward (SF)
4. Power Forward (PF)
center 5.Center (C )
unofficial job titles: Combo Guard | Swingman | point-forward
see also: tweeners | Backcourt | front court | Starting Five | sixth man

In the history of basketball, players were divided into attackers ( forwards ) and defenders ( guards ). With the increasing popularity of the sport and the introduction of new rules, special tasks have developed for the five players.

The starting lineup of the five active field players usually consists of one physically large player, the center , two forwards and two guards . However, various other variations are also possible, e.g. B. the use of three guards (the so-called " small ball ", since guards are usually the smaller players), as often practiced by the Detroit Pistons under Chuck Daly , or playing with two centers, as the Houston Rockets do in the middle 1980s did and the San Antonio Spurs still do. In German basketball, however, it often happens that this system is modified somewhat, it is usually played with two centres, two wing players (forwards) and a build-up player (guard). Since the mid-2010s, the NBA has been dominated by a philosophy of play, partly due to the dominance of the 3-point game, which partially eliminates the classic five positions in favor of so-called "positionless basketball".

The center is usually the tallest and most physically strong player on a team. He mostly acts in the zone and has to get as many rebounds as possible. The guards (support players) are divided into "shooting guard" and "point guard". The shooting guard specializes in distance throws (three-point throw) , while the point guard as a playmaker (see terms ) decides on his team's move.

The forwards (wingers) are also broken down into two more positions: "small forward" and "power forward." The biggest difference between the two positions is the size of the players. Both forwards are attacking players who act like the center in the zone and try to score as many hits as possible in attack space.

Positions are numbered from smallest player to largest player, from #1 (Point Guard) to #5 (Center).


NCAA college league referee

A game is generally of two referees. However, three referees are used in the NBA , the NCAA and many "higher" national and international leagues or competitions. All referees have equal rights and only have different areas of observation and responsibilities, which change constantly. The decisive factor here is the position of the ball on the field. In the two-referee technique , one referee is the front referee . His position is behind the defending team's baseline. His colleague, as the following referee , takes a position behind the attack about three meters from the ball, staying in the area from the left touchline to about the middle of the field.

In addition to the referees, there is also a judging panel at the so-called scoring table. This is where the timekeepers sit (the time is stopped with every whistle), 24-second timekeepers (you only have 24 seconds for an attack) and scorers (all points and fouls are logged on the scoresheet). In Austria, the terms are different : clerk , clerk 's table and game report . In Switzerland, the scorers at the scorer's table write the match sheet .

time management

A basketball game usually consists of quarters. In the federations belonging to FIBA, each quarter has a duration of ten minutes. In the NBA, twelve minutes are played in each quarter. If there is a tie at the end of the fourth quarter, there is a five-minute overtime period until one team is declared the winner. Originally, two halves of twenty minutes each were played. The new time division is a takeover from the NBA , in which four quarters have been played for a long time. An exception is the NCAA collegiate league , which still plays two halves. Unlike e.g. B. in football only the pure playing time is counted here, the time is stopped in game interruptions as soon as the referee interrupts the game (e.g. fouls or balls out). The actual duration of a game is usually 80 to 100 minutes. There is a two-minute break after each quarter and overtime, with a fifteen-minute half-time break after the second quarter (FIBA).


Normally two points are calculated for a successful throw. A throw in which the throwing player is behind the so-called three-point line earns his team three points. The three-point line is 6.75 meters (since the 2010/11 season) from the center of the basket (NBA: 7.24 m).

For a foul during a field shot attempt, the fouled player gets the same number of free throws as points would have been possible with a successful shot. The free throw takes place from the free-throw line (English free-throw line ), which runs parallel to the end line at a distance of 5.80 meters. A successful free throw always counts as one point. If a player is fouled immediately during a throw attempt and the attempt is successful despite the foul, these points are counted regularly and the player also receives a bonus free throw. This gives him the opportunity to score 3 (or 4) points.


There are numerous variants in the attack . So-called systems are often played. These are variants of a well-rehearsed move in which each attacker has a specific route. The aim is to enable a player to throw freely by placing blocks etc.

Against a zone defense, the attacking team will try to create a majority situation on one side. Or she tries to lure many defenders to one side in order to get a free player on the other side.

Against a man defense, the attacker can try to stay as far away from the player with the ball as possible. In this way, he ties his own defender and allows the ball carrier to have a 1v1 situation.

An example is "isolation", whereby the ball carrier announces the play and all teammates push their man to the outside, so that the ball-carrying player can only pull to the basket against his direct opponent ("one on one").


The player Oscar Torres blocks the opponent's ball.

In relation to the defense system , a basic distinction is made between zone and man defense . Zone defense is area coverage . Put simply, each defender has to defend a specific area (e.g. front right). Advantage is a very compact center. It therefore becomes more difficult for the opponent to score near the basket. The disadvantage is defending long-distance throws (e.g. three-pointers). In addition, the opponent can try to bring about a superiority situation on one side by skilful overlapping.

In man defense, each attacker is assigned a defender. Accordingly, a free throw from outside becomes more difficult. However, the center is not full of defenders, which makes the move to the basket easier.

Finally, there are mixed forms, which, however, are rarely practiced. For example, you could play a zone with four men while one man defends the opposing set-up player. This is useful if the opponent has an outstanding player.


  • Assist : Submission of a pass to a player who successfully puts that ball in the basket; here, the number of assists of each player is always noted in statistics.
  • Crossover : Dribbling movement that begins with a cross step and a hand switch at the same time
  • Double-double : A player has double digits in two statistical categories (e.g. assists and rebounds) at the end of a game.
  • Triple-double : A player has double digits in three statistical categories (e.g. assists, rebounds and points) at the end of a game.
  • Dunk : When a player pushes the basketball through the hoop from above with one or two hands, it is known as a "(slam) dunk." In the NBA, the slam dunk contest was introduced, in which selected players artistically "dunk" the ball into the basket.
  • Lay - up : one of thetypes of throws in basketball
National player Per Günther with a layup
  • Rebound : A rebound consists of a rebound of the ball being caught by a defender (defensive rebound) or attacker (offensive rebound) ; the number of rebounds is recorded in statistics.
  • Steal : When a player steals the ball from their opponent, it is known as a " steal ".
  • Turnover: loss of possession of any kind, e.g. B. by a step error or bad pass.
  • 3-point game : If a player is fouled during a successful 2-point shot and then converts the bonus free throw, it is said to be a 3-point game (two points for the shot + one point for the free throw).
  • 4-point game : If a player is fouled during a successful 3-point shot and then converts the bonus free throw, it is said to be a 4-point game (three points for the shot + one point for the free throw).
  • Playmaker : The point guard of the team is usually referred to as playmaker or builder
  • Zone (basketball) : The marked area that extends directly under the basket to the free-throw line. The zone is also called paint (because it's usually colored) or key (because its shape looked like a key when viewed from above until it was widened in the 1960s).
  • Fast break: A fast attack (similar to the counterattack in handball) characterized by a quick ball forward and a quick finish (throw to the basket).

game rules

The jump ball in the center circle starts the game.

The Game Rules described in the following section refer to the Official FIBA ​​Rules. Differences to the rules of other leagues, such as those of the NBA or NCAA, are not always taken into account here.

jump ball

Under FIBA ​​rules, every game begins with a jump ball to decide first possession. One of the referees throws the ball up in the center circle between two opposing players, and the players then try to pass the ball to a teammate. In subsequent quarters, possession changes and is indicated by a directional arrow on the referee panel.

In the NBA, the jump ball is also used in other game situations, for example after a double foul with free throws, generally when possession of the ball is unclear. The jump ball is then not executed in the middle circle, but in the circle (see playing field ) that is closest to the last game situation.


A distinction is made between personal, technical, unsportsmanlike (formerly intentional) and disqualifying fouls. Technical fouls are for technical errors, administrative offenses and indiscipline by players and coaches. Examples of offenses of this type include complaining, too many players on the field, hanging on the ring, disturbing the opponent with gestures and facial expressions (e.g. clapping or yelling while trying to throw), or swinging your elbows violently even if no contact is made.

Unsportsmanlike fouls are assessed when contact is very hard or the player has no prospect of playing the ball and contact occurs (e.g., two-handed stab in the back). Since 2008, contact from the side and from behind in a fast attack has also been considered an unsportsmanlike foul.

Disqualifying fouls are pronounced because of gross unsportsmanlike conduct (assault, insult, etc.). A foul that involves injury to the opponent is an unsportsmanlike or disqualifying foul, depending on its severity.

In 1998, the "advantage-disadvantage principle" was included in the basketball rules, e.g. eg touching the opponent with the hands does not have to be a foul. The umpires must determine whether the player who made the contact has an unfair advantage (see “Fouls” or Article 33.10 of the 2008 Official Basketball Rules).

Defender fouls

The referee points his fist up and his other hand at the fouling player.

The defender commits a foul by holding, blocking, pushing, jostling, tripping, and by interfering with the movement of an opponent by extending a hand, arm, elbow, shoulder, hip, leg, knee, or foot. If the defending attacker does not have the ball at the moment, a certain amount of pushing and tugging is allowed.

If the defending attacker has the ball, the defender's options are limited. The attacking player may not be pushed, unless he specifically seeks physical contact. In this case, the attacker must not be hindered with legs or arms, but only with the body. Good defenders are so fast that they can push the attacker off without using their arms, maybe even make them run backwards.

Attacker fouls

An attacker with the ball commits a foul when it makes contact (offensive foul) with a defender who is in a legal defending position or is moving backwards and gives the attacker an unfair advantage. Typical offensive fouls include illegal elbow contacts, forearm shoving of the opponent, or when the attacker runs shoulder-first into the opponent.

An attacker without the ball commits a foul if he sets an illegal screen or moving pick . Standing blocks, on the other hand, are allowed in basketball (unlike in soccer, where hitting the ground is considered a foul). Another difference to a defender's foul is that no free-throw penalties are imposed for offensive fouls (foul by the team in possession of the ball) (exception: unsportsmanlike offensive foul). However, they count as team fouls.

consequences of fouls

Free throw Dirk Nowitzki (2005)

A disqualifying foul or two unsportsmanlike fouls will result in disqualification from the game. The disqualified player must leave the hall immediately or wait for the end of the game in the team dressing room. Five personal or technical fouls result in the loss of eligibility for the current game (NBA: six fouls). Two technical fouls against a coach, one technical foul against a coach and two technical fouls against the bench, or three technical fouls against the bench will result in disqualification of the coach.

It should be noted that these are personal punishments. The number of players on the field does not change.

Basically, a foul in an unsuccessful basket attempt leads to two or three free throws, depending on the position of the fouled player. If a basket is scored with a foul – i.e. the attacker is fouled while throwing a basket – the fouled player receives the points and an additional free throw.

A foul without a basket attempt does not lead to free throws. Exception: From the 5th team foul (all personal and technical fouls of all players of a team per quarter, foul limit) there are basically two free throws per defender foul (previously there were 1 + 1 free throws in this situation, i.e. only if the first one was a hit, there was a second).

time violations

24 second rule

The original 24-second clock (shotclock) in Syracuse , New York

Each attack may last a maximum of 24 seconds (e.g. in Germany , USA ; 30 or 45 seconds are only allowed in a few countries), which are counted down on a shot clock . The time is restarted when the referee whistles "intentional kicking of the ball". In addition, the time starts again after each ring touch of the ball with 14 seconds. Finally, a rally (defender captures the ball and becomes the attacker, so-called "steal") and a foul by the defending team also restart the 24-second clock. On the other hand, a ball-out decision without a change of ball possession does not lead to a restart. The following special feature leads to spectacular scenes: A basket counts if a player throws the ball before the 24-second timer has expired. The signal then sounds while the ball is in the air (a ball thrown in the last second of play counts even though it does not reach the basket until after time has elapsed). In American college basketball, you have 35 seconds to attack, which results in fewer points than in pro basketball.

8 second rule If a team gets the ball or there is a throw-in, they have eight (24 seconds) seconds to get the ball into the opponent's half. If you don't succeed, there is a throw-in for the opponent on the center line.

3-second rule During an attack, the players of the attacking team may not remain in the opponent's zone (the free-throw area) for more than three seconds at a time, regardless of whether the player in question has possession of the ball or not. It should be noted here, however, that no referee times the three seconds with the clock. They are counted “in your head” (like the 8 seconds) or decided by feel. At a high-class level, this rule is rarely reprimanded.

The referees are now instructed not to penalize the 3-second violation if an attacker remains in the zone for more than three seconds but does not actively intervene in the game during this time. If a player receives the ball after being in the zone for three seconds or more, it is a violation. Forbearance is shown to a player who is in the zone for two seconds but immediately shoots for the basket or lays up.

5-second rule A player may only hold the ball for a maximum of five seconds before taking the throw-in. In the game he has to shoot for a field goal after five seconds, start dribbling or give up the ball if he is closely guarded. Should one of these rules be violated, the opposing team receives the ball with a throw-in at the nearest out-of-bounds line.


Out of bounds is called when the ball or player in possession touches the ground on or outside the out-of-bounds line. However, the ball is not out of bounds if it is in the air outside the out-of-bounds line. A player who bounces inside the field of play may pass him back into play as long as the player or the ball does not touch the ground.

second leg

Argentina's Luis Scola and Lithuania's Paulius Jankūnas in an international match.

In the event of an attack, the ball may not be played back from the opposing half (front court) into their own half of the field (back court) by any player of the team in possession. If this happens, it is a violation of the rules, the so-called " backcourt violation ". Any movement of the ball across the center line is counted as a second leg, so it doesn't matter whether the ball was passed or dribbled. When dribbling, the ball is only in the court when both the ball and both of the dribbler's feet are in contact with the court. Violation of this will be penalized with a throw-in by the opposing team from the sidelines; this closest to where the player touches the ball in the backcourt.

Exceptions: It is not a return leg if a defender taps the ball back into the attacking team's backcourt (possession of the ball does not change when the ball is "tipped") or the ball is passed into the backcourt by an attacking player and intercepted by an opposing player (the throw-in logically omitted here, since possession changes anyway). It is not considered a second leg if a player jumps off the frontcourt and plays the ball in flight back to the frontcourt. Furthermore, a defender may jump in front of the field, catch the ball and land in his backcourt. On the other hand, in this situation, he may not tap or pass the ball to a teammate.

step error

The player with the ball must dribble (tap the ball on the ground) to move. If he does not do this, a step error (travelling) is decided and the opponent gets a throw-in on the sideline. FIBA rules require you to dribble first, NBA rules allow you to do the step first and then dribble.

After he stops dribbling and while still in motion, i.e. H. is running, he is allowed two more feet on the ground before passing or shooting at the basket. The supporting leg may be raised for the purpose of the pass or throw, but not set down again (e.g. in the dissolved star step ).

double dribbling

Once an attacker picks up the ball after dribbling (tapping the ball on the ground), he may not attempt to dribble again. A violation gives a throw-in for the opponent from the touchline. Another version of this is carrying : in this case, the player turns his hand over while dribbling so that the hand is under the ball. The consequences are the same as normal double dribbling. Fumbling does not count as dribbling. The ball hits the ground, but due to the lack of ball control, there is no violation of the rules.

Goal tending

It is only allowed to block the ball in the green flight phase, after that it would be goaltending .

It is only allowed to catch or block an opponent's ball thrown at the basket from the air as long as it is in the upward movement. If he has reached the apex of his flight or is already descending and completely above ring level, the ball must first touch the basket before it can be played freely again. Something else only applies if the ball obviously goes wrong. In the beginning this rule didn't exist and so very tall players went over to standing under their own basket and intercepting all throws.

Another form of goaltending is to block the ball after it has touched the board and is completely above ring level. If a ball touches the board during a field shot, it is not clear unless it is obvious that it has missed. In contrast to throwing without a board, it doesn't matter whether it's still moving up or down.

A player commits goaltending on a free throw when he touches the ball on its way to the basket before it touches the ring.

Reaching into the net or hitting the board by a defender, who thus prevents a basket, can also be described as goaltending in a broader sense .

The result of goaltending is that the attacking team's attempt at a basket is counted as a basket success.

The attacking team can also be called goaltending , the requirements are the same. This is called offensive interfence .

foot game

Footplay is defined as intentionally touching the ball with your foot, knee or leg. If the footplay is committed by a defensive player , if more than 10 seconds have elapsed , the shot clock will be set to 14/24 seconds (14 in frontcourt, 24 in backcourt). If no more than 10 seconds have passed, you continue playing with the existing time. If, on the other hand, an offensive player commits the foot game, the opposing team gets the ball and the full 24 seconds of a new attack.

Development of basketball rules

Basically, the game is played worldwide according to the applicable FIBA ​​rules. The NBA has its own rules, which have also developed historically and are geared to the special US requirements of professional sports (e.g. game interruptions for TV commercials). International tournaments (e.g. Olympic Games) hosted under the control of FIBA ​​require all NBA professionals to adapt to FIBA ​​rules.

Time out during a FC Barcelona game
  • 1895: The free-throw line was officially set at 15 feet from the basket. Before that, the free-throw line was often set at 6.1 meters from the basket.
  • 1896: A hit was reduced from three to two points. Free throws have been reduced from three to one point.
  • 1911: Players were disqualified after their fourth foul.
  • 1914: The bottom of the net was opened, allowing the ball to fall through.
  • 1922: Running with the ball without dribbling (travelling) resulted in the opposing team getting the ball.
  • 1924: The fouled player had to take the free throw himself. Before that, every team had a free throw specialist who threw free throws.
  • 1931: The size of the basketball was reduced from 813 to 787 millimeters (circumference).
  • 1935: The size of the basketball was reduced again (between 749 and 768 mm).
  • 1936: From now on, the offensive player was not allowed to stand more than three seconds (with or without the ball) in front of the free-throw line.
  • 1945: Five personal fouls result in player's disqualification. Unlimited use of substitutes has been introduced.
  • 1948: Introduction of the three-second rule by FIBA ​​at the London conference
  • 1949: Coaches were allowed to talk to players during timeouts.
  • 1956: FIBA ​​introduced the 30-second rule
  • 1957: The free-throw line was officially set at 15 feet from the board.
  • 1984: FIBA ​​introduces the three-point line (distance 6.25 m).
  • 1985–1986: The NCAA finally set the men's attack time at 45 seconds.
  • 1993-1994: Attack time reduced from 45 to 30 seconds.
  • 1994: The 1 and 1 rule for team fouls was abolished. Two free throws are always awarded.
  • 2000: Attack time reduced from 30 to 24 seconds.
  • 2002: Alternating possession was introduced in place of jump balls.
  • 2008: Special rule for 24 seconds and change of the second leg rule (both FIBA)

Rules of the game of FIBA ​​and other leagues

In addition to the leagues that play according to the international FIBA ​​rules, there are slightly different rules, especially in the North American league. These deviations mostly resulted from the reason to make the game more attractive for the spectators or have grown historically.

The following table shows the main rule deviations of the major North American leagues from the FIBA ​​rules:

3-point line (from the center of the ring) 6.25 m or
6.75 m arc /
6.60 m straight
7.24 m (23 ft 9 in) arc /
6.70 m (22 ft) straight
6.25m 6.02 m (19 ft 9 in)
Free throw line (from the center of the ring) 4.225m 4.191 m (13 ft 9 in) 3.96m 3.96m
game time 4 × 10 mins 4 × 12 mins 4 × 10 mins 2 × 20 mins
time for an attack 24s 24s 24s 30s (men)
30s (women)
field size 28m × 15m 28.65 m × 15.24 m (94 ft × 50 ft) 28m × 15m 25.6m × 15.24m
circumference of the ball 75-78cm 75 cm 72.4-73.2 cm 75-76.2 cm (men)
72.4-73.62 cm (women)
weight of the ball 567-650g 625g 510-565g 565-625g (men)
510-565g (women)
Italian basketball player Sara Giauro on a three-point shot .

FIBA strives for uniform rules worldwide. This should happen gradually. To this end, on May 25, 2008, it passed the following rule changes: Valid from October 1, 2008:

  1. Visible T-shirts may no longer be worn under the playing attire.
  2. If a player falls and then slides across the floor with the ball, this is not an offence.
  3. When dribbling, the ball is only in the court when both the ball and both of the dribbler's feet are in contact with the court.
  4. It is not considered a second leg if a player jumps in the frontcourt, regains team ball control in flight and then lands in the backcourt.
  5. It is considered disrupting the ball if a player reaches through the ring from below and touches the ball.
  6. An unsportsmanlike foul occurs when a defender makes contact from behind or to the side with an opponent who would otherwise have a clear path to the basket in a quick attack.
  7. A technical foul can be called when a player vigorously swings his elbow without touching an opponent.

The following rules are effective in FIBA ​​International Competitions from October 1, 2010 and in the highest competitions of FIBA ​​National Associations from October 1, 2012:

  1. The three-point line is moved from 6.25 meters by 50 centimeters to 6.75 meters.
  2. The zone is marked rectangular and no longer trapezoidal.
  3. In addition to the 24-second rule, there is the FIBA ​​14-second rule. This applies exclusively to throw-in situations in the opposing half (court) (such as after a foul by the defending team or after "intentional kicking of the ball"). If, at the time play is stopped, there are 13 or fewer seconds to attack the basket according to the 24-second rule, the attacking team has 14 seconds to attack the basket (24-second clock is reduced to 14 seconds, instead of 24 seconds). However, this rule does not apply to situations such as out.

associations and leagues


The five continental federations of FIBA.

The World Basketball Federation was founded on June 18, 1932 in Geneva under the name "FIBA" (Fédération Internationale de Basketball Amateur) . The founding members were Argentina , Czechoslovakia , Greece , Italy , Latvia , Portugal , Romania , Switzerland and ; since 2002, FIBA ​​has had its headquarters in Geneva .

Two years earlier, the sport of basketball was officially recognized by the International Olympic Committee . A FIBA ​​tournament for men has been held every four years since 1950. In 1953 this event was also introduced for women.

In 1989, the World Basketball Federation approved it for professional players. Since then, international basketball players such as Dwyane Wade and Tim Duncan have represented their national team at the Olympic Games .

US professional leagues

NBA teams, conferences and divisions
Western Conference
  • northwest
  • southwest
  • Pacific
  • Eastern Conference
  • Atlantic
  • Central
  • Southeast
  • One of the better-known late professional basketball leagues before the emergence of the NBA was founded by three corporations ( General Electric , Firestone , Goodyear ) in 1937 under the name " National Basketball League " (short: NBL). This league was dissolved in 1949 and merged with the “Basketball Association of America” (BAA for short) to form the “ National Basketball Association ” (NBA for short). This BAA, in which well-known players like Bob Davies played, had opened up new and larger arenas for basketball in the year it was founded in 1946. The NBA is mostly considered a continuum of the BAA without special mention.

    The NBA is currently the most popular professional basketball league in the world. Thirty teams from a total of six divisions (Atlantic, Central, Southeast, Northwest, Pacific, Southwest) play in the main round ( Regular Season ) to get into the playoffs. In the playoffs, the top eight teams in each of the Western and Eastern Conferences compete against each other in a knockout system.

    The Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) was founded on April 24, 1996 in the course of increasing equality.

    German associations

    Basketball in Germany is organized by the German Basketball Federation (DBB), based in Hagen . The President of the DBB has been Ingo Weiss since 2006 . The top divisions are the Basketball Bundesliga , ProA and ProB for men and the 1st Women's Basketball League and the 2nd Women's Basketball League for women . In the high-performing youth field, there is also the youth and youth basketball league .

    Popular and amateur sport as well as the regional leagues are organized by the following state associations:

    International Associations

    Dirk Bauermann , coach of the German national team from 2003 to 2011


    Basketball hoop on an outdoor court

    Various variants and modifications of basketball are known, among others: basketball , korfball , mini basketball , netball , show basketball, water basketball, slamball

    street ball

    Streetball is a modification of basketball. It has grown in popularity as a recreational sport since the 1990s. In contrast to classic basketball, it is usually played three against three on just one basket and takes place outdoors, with the rules also differing from "normal" basketball. Due to the smaller number of players per team, there is a greater emphasis on direct duels and thus on ball handling skills.

    unicycle basketball

    Unicycle basketball is primarily played in International Unicycling Federation (IUF) competitions. Competitors must throw the basketball into the opponent's basket as many times as possible while riding their unicycle. In this variant, the same rules are used as in normal basketball.

    wheelchair basketball

    Israel national wheelchair basketball team

    Wheelchair basketball was invented in the United States in 1946 because some basketball players wanted to continue their sport despite war injuries. The International Wheelchair Basketball Federation is the international governing body. Wheelchair basketball has been a Paralympic sport since the 1960 Paralympics in Rome. The German wheelchair basketball players are organized in the German Wheelchair Sports Association (DRS).

    Basketball for the Deaf

    Basketball for the Deaf is accessible to deaf and hearing impaired people with a hearing loss of at least 55 dB. The same rules as regular basketball are used, prohibited aids include hearing aids and cochlear implant devices.

    The Deaf International Basketball Federation (DIBF) is the world basketball federation for the deaf and organizes the world championships and various international championships. Basketball for the deaf has been a Deaflympic sport since the 1949 Deaflympics in Brussels. The German deaf basketball players are organized in the German Deaf Sports Association (DGSV).

    beach basketball

    Beach basketball, originally developed in the United States as a training variant of basketball, has enjoyed growing popularity in recent years. In Germany, unlike in the United States, two baskets are played on a smaller playing field. The German championship in beach basketball is held annually in Cuxhaven .

    Pop Culture


    Michael Jordan stars in the movie Space Jam

    The first basketball-themed film was released in 1979, entitled The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh . This comedy starred well-known basketball players like Julius Erving or Kareem Abdul-Jabbar . In 1987, the film Free Throw (eng. hoosiers ) was released in cinemas. Well-known actors such as Gene Hackman, Barbara Hershey or Dennis Hopper played the leading roles in this sports drama. The film follows a hopeless high school team who, with the help of coach Norman Dale (played by Gene Hackman), become a title favorite. The film received positive press reviews and was nominated for two Oscars.

    The great success of the American basketball team at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona and basketball legend Michael Jordan 's winning streak with the Chicago Bulls led to a boom in basketball-themed films in the 1990s. In 1992, the comedy film White Boys Don't Bring , starring actors Wesley Snipes and Woody Harrelson , was released in theaters.

    Two years later, two more films and a basketball-themed documentary will be released in theaters. In the drama film Above the Rim - Tupac Shakur plays the role of the ruthless gang leader Birdie, who wants the hopeful young player Kyle on his team. The film Blue Chips is about coach Pete Bell (played by Nick Nolte ) and his basketball team who try to become the winning team by breaking the rules. Basketball players Bob Cousy and Shaquille O'Neal played supporting roles in this film.

    The documentary Hoop Dreams is about two African American boys who want to escape their bad life in the ghetto to become professional basketball players. This documentary won numerous awards and was nominated for an Oscar in 1995. Other well-known basketball films such as the comedy Eddie or the animated film Space Jam appeared in the mid-1990s . In 1998, director David Zucker released the comedy film The Jocks . In this film, friends Joe Cooper and Doug Remer invent the sport of baseketball, a hybrid of baseball and basketball.

    The film Game of Life achieved great popularity among basketball fans . The film was directed by Spike Lee and starred well-known actors such as Denzel Washington and Milla Jovovich . In 2005, the film Coach Carter , based on a true story, was released in German cinemas.

    video game

    A "Redemption" arcade game set in Tokyo

    In 1979, the first basketball video game was released for the Atari . At that time you could play the game with a so-called trackball against the computer or another player. In 1989, the game developer Electronic Arts created a series that pitted two different teams against one another. The first part of this series was released under the title Lakers versus Celtics for the PC and Sega Mega Drive. In this game you could play NBA stars like Larry Bird , Kareem Abdul-Jabbar or Magic Johnson for the first time. Encouraged by its huge success, Electronic Arts released the follow-up Bulls versus Lakers and the NBA Playoffs in 1991 . The sports game featured 16 original playoff teams from the previous season and could be played with one additional player.

    A year later, the game Team USA Basketball was launched worldwide. The player could choose one of fourteen international teams (e.g. Australia, Angola, China) and compete with it against other teams. The following year, game developer Midway released the very popular and successful basketball game NBA Jam . The gameplay was very different from the other basketball games that rely on a realistic gameplay.

    In 1995, game developer Electronic Arts released the first part of the NBA Live series for the Super Nintendo , Sega Mega Drive and PC. The series offered original NBA licenses and a graphics engine adapted to the systems . Over the next few years, NBA Live grew into one of the most popular basketball video game series in the world. In addition to the NBA Live series, EA Sports also publishes NBA Street . In addition to the original licenses, this series offers an unrealistic way of playing that is very reminiscent of the NBA Jam series. After the 2009 release of NBA Live 10, the series was canceled and EA began development of a new basketball simulation that would be called NBA Elite . After several postponements of the release date, the development was completely stopped, so there was no version from EA for the 2010/11 season.

    Since 2005 there is another game series, which is produced by 2K Games . It is called NBA2K and has developed into the biggest competitor of the EA Sports series since the start. In addition to a realistic simulation, the game also offers all the licenses of the NBA, as well as a mode that allows users to create their own professional player.

    See also

    Wiktionary: Basketball  - meaning explanations, word origin, synonyms, translations
    Commons : Basketball  - Collection of images, videos and audio files
    Portal: Basketball  - Overview of Wikipedia content related to basketball


    web links

    Wiktionary: Basketball  - meaning explanations, word origin, synonyms, translations


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