Basketball is a team sport in which two teams, usually each with five players, compete against one another on a rectangular court with the main goal of stopping the opposing team from shooting through their own hoop while using a basketball with a diameter of about 9.4 inches (24 cm) to go through the defender’s hoop, which is a basket with a diameter of 18 inches mounted 10 feet high to a backboard at each end of the court. Except when made from behind the three-point line, a field goal is worth three points. Timed play is stopped following a foul, and the player who committed the foul or who was chosen to attempt a technical foul is awarded one, two, or three one-point free throws.
Players move the ball forward by either passing it to a teammate or bouncing it while running or walking (dribbling), both of which require a high level of ability. Players can use a variety of shots on offense, such as layups, jump shots, and dunks. On defense, they can steal the ball from a player who is dribbling, intercept passes, or block shots. Finally, either the offense or the defense can grab rebounds, which are missed shots that rebound off the rim or backboard. It is against the rules to carry the ball, elevate or drag one’s pivot foot when not dribbling, or hold the ball in both hands before starting to dribble again.
Five playing positions are filled by each side’s five players. The tallest player is typically the center, followed by the second tallest and strongest player, the power forward, the small forward, who is slightly shorter but more agile, and the shooting guard and point guard, who are the best ball handlers and manage the execution of offensive and defensive plays to carry out the coach’s game plan (player positioning). Players can play three-on-three, two-on-two, or one-on-one informally.