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All-American Sports Guide: Basketball

Published on February 27, 2020

Attending a typical American sporting event such as basketball, American football or baseball is one of the most exciting experiences a foreigner can have in the USA. In our series “All-American Sport Guides” we dedicate ourselves to the most popular American sports, explain the most important rules and basics and show what makes visiting a game so special.

Basketball is one of the most popular sports in the United States. Almost every American has not only watched a game live at least once in their life, but has also played the sport themselves. Compared to other ball sports, basketball is still relatively young. The sport was invented by a Canadian (!) In 1891, who was originally looking for an alternative to winter sports that could also be played indoors.

The popularity of basketball is partly due to the fact that it can be played almost anywhere on a small area without large equipment - at least to some extent. Whether in front gardens, garage entrances or public basketball courts - sport is ubiquitous and accessible to everyone, especially in urban areas.

Basketball - team sport for individualists

Every school and college has its own basketball team. No matter whether you are going to the USA as an exchange student, au pair or for an internship - you will definitely encounter the sport there. Basketball is a team sport that, despite everything, has a strong individual component. Many NBA teams - the largest basketball league in the world - are best known for their star players. These usually carry titles such as “NBA All-Star Player” or “NBA MVP” (Most Valuable Player) and often become successful advertising icons, such as Michael Jordan for the American sporting goods manufacturer Nike. If you plan to watch an NBA game live, you should buy tickets well in advance as they sell out quickly. The NBA season is from End of October to April of the following year.

Basketball is a very fast and agile game that is played on a relatively small playing field 28 meters long and 15 meters wide (for comparison: a soccer field is 90 m long and 45 m wide). The center line (midline) separates the playing field. At each end there are the team zones (lanes, keys) with the basket at a height of approx. 3 meters. In the game there are different positions, such as point guard, center, offensive forward etc., but basically every player can move freely on the field. The length of a basketball game can vary. There are four quarters in the NBA (Quarters) of 12 minutes each. After the first two quarters there is one 15-minute half-time break.

What's it all about?

The basic idea of ​​the game is simple. There are 5 players facing each other on the field. Another 7 players per team sit on the bench and can be substituted on at any time. The aim is to throw the ball into the opposing team's basket and get the most hits at the end of the game. So far - so good, because it only becomes complicated when there are so many rules.

A game starts at the center line with the "Tip off" through a "Jump ball". The referee (referee) throws the ball high in the air and the first team to get hold of the ball is on the offensive. The own half is the backcourt for each team (back court) and the opposing half the apron (front court).

With each attack, a team has exactly 24 seconds to score a shot. The ball must at least hit the edge of the basket. If this is the case, the team immediately gets another 14 seconds to score. The time is made by the "Shot clock" displayed on the blackboard. As soon as the offensive throws a basket or the 24 seconds pass without a hit, the opposing team gets the ball and is now on the offensive.

Scoring system

The number of points for a hit depends on where the players throw the ball from. When throwing on or behind the "3-point line"(Semicircle) there are 2 points, in front of the line 3 points and in the case of a free throw ("Free throw") usually 1 point.

Important rules and violations

The ball can be moved by dribbling or throwing. If a team takes possession of the ball, it has 8 seconds to pass the ball behind the center line into the opposing half. During the offensive you can no longer move him back into your own half or out of bounds. The ball may also only a maximum of 5 seconds held or dribbled. If the ball is in both hands, a player may take a maximum of two further steps before he has to play it - dribbling again is not allowed. In addition, players on the offensive are only allowed maximum 3 seconds stay in one piece in the opposing end zone (lane). These rules ensure that the game flows extremely quickly. If these rules are violated, there is one "Turnover penalty" and the other team gets the ball.

Rules also apply to the defensive. So she may z. B. a throw-in from the sideline (baseline) do not block. Also is with "Guarding" of a player, i.e. when obstructing passing and throwing, any physical contact is prohibited. You are not allowed to hold, push or physically block a player. In addition, another rule states that the ball may only be intercepted on the way towards the basket if it has not yet reached its highest point or has ricocheted off the board. Defensive players may z. B. do not put directly in front of the basket and hold balls in this way. Otherwise this is considered to be "Goaltending violation".

Basketball fouls

As with any game, there are fouls in basketball. There are several types of foul, but three main categories:

  • Personal foul: unauthorized physical contact
  • Flagrant foul: particularly brutal or disproportionately strong contact
  • Technical foul: Offenses without physical contact, e.g. insulting the referee

If a player commits more than 5 (in the NBA 6) fouls, he must leave the game. A foul results in a free throw for the opposing team. This is worth as many points as the player would have received without a foul. For this reason he gets 2 points if he is fouled behind the 3-point line and in front of line 3. If a fouled player manages to score a point despite being fouled, he gets the regular points plus a free throw (1 point).

Let's go shoot some hoops!

During your stay in the USA you not only have the opportunity to watch a game live, but also to play basketball yourself on the school team or in your free time. Who knows, maybe shooting hoops will even become a new hobby for you? Even if you don't, you will encounter the sport in America more often than you might think. Just like football and baseball, basketball lingo has found its way into everyday language. “Buzzer beater”, “being on the rebound” and “giving it a shot” are just a few examples.