Basketball court

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The home court of the Miami Heat of the National Basketball Association. Game 3 of the 2006 NBA Finals.jpg
The home court of the Miami Heat of the National Basketball Association.

In basketball, the basketball court is the playing surface, consisting of a rectangular floor, with baskets at each end. In professional or organized basketball, especially when played indoors, it is usually made out of a wood, often maple, and highly polished and completed with a 10 foot rim. Outdoor surfaces are generally made from standard paving materials such as concrete or asphalt.



Basketball courts come in many different sizes. In the National Basketball Association (NBA), the court is 94 by 50 feet (28.7 by 15.2 m). Under International Basketball Federation (FIBA) rules, [1] the court is slightly smaller, measuring 28 by 15 meters (91.9 by 49.2 ft). In amateur basketball, court sizes vary widely. Many older high school gyms had 84' courts or even 74 feet in length. The baskets are always 10 feet (3.05 m) above the floor (except possibly in youth competition). Basketball courts have a three-point arc at both baskets. A basket made from behind this arc is worth three points; a basket made from within this line, or with a player's foot touching the line, is worth 2 points. The free-throw line, where one stands while taking a foul shot, is located within the three-point arc at 15 feet from the plane of the backboard. A foul shot is worth 1 point, but if a shot is made from the foul line while in play it is still worth 2 points. [2]



AreaNBAFIBAWNBANCAA men [3] [lower-alpha 1] NCAA women [4]
Court length94 ft28.65 m91.86 ft28 mSame as NBA
Court width50 ft15.24 m49.21 ft15 mSame as NBA
Rim height10 ft3.05 mSame as NBA
No Charge Zone arc4 ft1.22 m4.10 ft1.25 mSame as NBA
Center circle diameter12 ft3.66 m11.81 ft3.6 mSame as NBA
3-point line distance from the basket23.75 ft
22 ft in corner [lower-alpha 2]
7.24 m
6.70 m in corner [lower-alpha 2]
22.15 ft
21.65 ft in corner [lower-alpha 3]
6.75 m
6.60 m in corner [lower-alpha 3]
Main arc same as FIBA
Corners same as NBA
Same as FIBA [lower-alpha 4] 20.75 ft [lower-alpha 5] 6.32 m [lower-alpha 5]
Key (shaded lane or
restricted area) width
16 ft4.88 m16.08 ft4.9 mSame as NBA12 ft3.66 mSame as NCAA men
Free-throw line distance from point on the floor directly below the backboard15 ft4.57 m15.09 ft4.6 mSame as NBA
  1. NCAA Division I men's play used these dimensions in the 2019–20 season, with Divisions II and III adopting them for the 2020–21 season.
  2. 1 2 The NBA three-point line is 3 ft (0.91 m) from the sideline in a zone starting at the baseline and ending when it crosses the 23.75 ft (7.24 m) arc. The 22 ft (6.70 m) distance exists only at the points on the three-point line that are directly to the left and right of the basket center.
  3. 1 2 The FIBA three-point line is 2.95 ft (0.90 m) from the sideline in a zone starting at the baseline and ending when it crosses the 22.1 ft (6.75 m) arc. The 21.65 ft (6.60 m) distance exists only at the points on the three-point line that are directly to the left and right of the basket center.
  4. The NCAA men's three-point line is the same distance from the center of the basket as the FIBA line, but is 3.33 ft (1.02 m) from the sideline in the corners because the NCAA court is wider.
  5. 1 2 The NCAA women's arc is continuous throughout the 180° arc delimited by a imaginary line passing through the center of the basket and parallel to the baseline. From that imaginary line to the baseline, the arc is a uniform 4.25 ft (1.30 m) from the sideline.


Most important terms related to the basketball court Basketball terms.png
Most important terms related to the basketball court

Center circle

The only two players permitted to enter this area prior to the tipoff are the players contesting the jump ball (usually but not always centers). Both players jump when the referee throws the ball in the air, each attempting to tap the ball into the hands of a player of their own team.

Three-point line

The three-point line is the line that separates the two-point area from the three-point area; any shot converted beyond this line counts as three points. If the shooting player steps on the line, it is counted as two points. Any foul made in the act of shooting beyond the three-point line would give the player three free throws if the shot does not go in, and one if it does.

The distance to the three-point line from the center of the basket varies depending on the level or league, and has changed several times. These are the current distances, with the league or level using each distance:

The NBA adopted the three-point line at the start of the 1979–80 season. This is of variable distance, ranging from 22 feet (6.7 m) in the corners to 23.75 feet (7.24 m) behind the top of the key. During the 1994–95, 1995–96 and 1996–97 seasons, the NBA attempted to address decreased scoring by shortening the overall distance of the line to a uniform 22 feet (6.7 m) around the basket. It was moved back to its original distance after the 1996–97 season. FIBA and the NCAA both adopted the three-point line in 1985.

In most high school associations in the United States, the distance is 19.75 feet. This was formerly the distance for college basketball as well. On May 26, 2007, the NCAA playing rules committee agreed to move the three-point line back one foot to 20.75 feet for the men. This rule went into effect for the 2008–2009 season. The three-point line for women (NCAA) moved back one foot to 20.75 feet at the start of the 2011–12 season. During the 2019 offseason, the NCAA men's playing rules committee adopted the FIBA arc in a two-phase implementation, with Division I adopting the new arc in 2019–20 and other NCAA divisions doing so in 2020–21. The NCAA women's arc has not yet changed.

The international distance, used in most countries outside the United States, as well as in FIBA and NCAA men's competition, is currently 6.6 m (21.65 ft) to 6.75 m (22.15 ft). The WNBA uses FIBA's arc except in the corner area, where the minimum distance is the NBA standard of 22 ft (6.71 m).


The perimeter is defined as the areas outside the free throw lane and inside the three-point line. Shots converted (successfully made) from this area are called "perimeter shots" or "outside shots" as called during older NBA games. If a player's foot is on the three-point line, the shot is considered a perimeter shot.

Low post area

The low post is defined as the areas that are closest to the basket but outside of the free throw lane. [5] This area is fundamental to strategy in basketball. Skilled low post players can score many points per game without ever taking a jump shot.


Kawhi Leonard at the free throw line during Game 2 of the 2019 NBA Finals. 1 kawhi leonard 2019 nba finals.jpg
Kawhi Leonard at the free throw line during Game 2 of the 2019 NBA Finals.

The key, free throw lane or shaded lane refers to the usually painted area beneath the basket; for the NBA, it is 16.02 feet (wider for FIBA tournaments). Since October 2010, the key has been a rectangle 4.9 m wide and 5.8 m long. Previously, it was a trapezoid 3.7 meters (12 ft) wide at the free-throw line and 6 meters (19 feet and 6.25 inches) at the end line.

The key is primarily used to prevent players from staying beneath the basket of the opponents' team for long periods (maximum three seconds).

The no charge zone arc is a semi-circular arc drawn around the area directly underneath the basket. With some exceptions, members of the defending team cannot draw charging fouls in this area. The no charge zone arc in all North American rule sets above high school level (NCAA men's and women's, NBA, and WNBA) has a radius 4 feet (1.22 m) from below the center of the basket. The no charge zone arc rule first appeared at any level of basketball in the NBA in the 1997-98 season. [6] The NCAA restricted area arc was originally established for the 2011–12 men's and women's seasons at a 3-foot (0.91 m) radius from below the center of the basket, and was extended to match the 4-foot radius for the 2015–16 season and beyond.

Other lines

On NBA floors, two hash marks are drawn at the end lines near the key to mark the area known as the lower defensive box. A defensive player is allowed to draw a charging foul within the restricted arc if the offensive player receives the ball and/or starts his drive within this area. [7]

Also, two lines are drawn on each of the sidelines, 28 feet from each of the endlines, which designates the extent of the coaching box and bench. This line marks the farthest extent a coach (aside from the sidelines) can stand. Directly behind this area is the team bench.

On the half-court line of NBA floors two lines extend outside the playing court, designating the place where substitutes wait before they can enter the playing court; directly behind this area are the various off-court officials such as the timekeeper and reserve referee.

FIBA changes

On April 26, 2008, FIBA announced several major rules changes involving the court markings. These changes took effect for major international competitions on October 1, 2010, after that year's World Championships for men and women, and became mandatory for other competitions on October 1, 2012 (although national federations could adopt the new markings before 2012). The changes were as follows. [8]

Related Research Articles

Basketball Team sport

Basketball is a team sport in which two teams, most commonly of five players each, opposing one another on a rectangular court, compete with the primary objective of shooting a basketball through the defender's hoop while preventing the opposing team from shooting through their own hoop. A field goal is worth two points, unless made from behind the three-point line, when it is worth three. After a foul, timed play stops and the player fouled or designated to shoot a technical foul is given one, two or three one-point free throws. The team with the most points at the end of the game wins, but if regulation play expires with the score tied, an additional period of play (overtime) is mandated.

Womens basketball Basketball played by women

Women's basketball is a team ball sport developed in the United States of America in the late 1800s, in tandem with its men's counterpart. Women's basketball became popular, spreading from the east to west coast of the United States in large part via women's college competitions. As of 2020, women's basketball is played globally, with basketball being one of the most popular and fastest growing sports in the world.

College basketball Amateur basketball played by students of higher education institutions

College basketball in the United States is governed by collegiate athletic bodies including National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), the United States Collegiate Athletic Association (USCAA), the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA), and the National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA). Each of these various organizations are subdivided into from one to three divisions based on the number and level of scholarships that may be provided to the athletes.

Shot clock

A shot clock is a countdown timer used in basketball that provides a set amount of time that a team may possess the ball before attempting to score a field goal. It is distinct from the game clock, which displays the time remaining in the period of play. It may be colloquially known as the 24-second clock, particularly in the NBA and other leagues where that is the duration of the shot clock. If the shot clock reaches zero before the team attempts a field goal, the team has committed a shot clock violation, which is penalized with a loss of possession.

Free throw Penalty in basketball

In basketball, free throws or foul shots are unopposed attempts to score points by shooting from behind the free throw line, a line situated at the end of the restricted area. Free throws are generally awarded after a foul on the shooter by the opposing team, analogous to penalty shots in other team sports. Free throws are also awarded in other situations, including technical fouls, and when the fouling team has entered the bonus/penalty situation. Also depending on the situation, a player may be awarded between one and three free throws. Each successful free throw is worth one point.

Personal foul (basketball) Illegal contact with an opponent in basketball

In basketball, a personal foul is a breach of the rules that concerns illegal personal contact with an opponent. It is the most common type of foul in basketball. A player fouls out on reaching a limit on personal fouls for the game and is disqualified from participation in the remainder of the game.


Streetball is a variation of basketball, typically played on outdoor courts and featuring significantly less formal structure and enforcement of the game's rules. As such, its format is more conducive to allowing players to publicly showcase their own individual skills. Streetball may also refer to other urban sports played on asphalt. It is particularly popular and important in New York City.

Rules of basketball

The rules of basketball are the rules and regulations that govern the play, officiating, equipment and procedures of basketball. While many of the basic rules are uniform throughout the world, variations do exist. Most leagues or governing bodies in North America, the most important of which are the National Basketball Association and NCAA, formulate their own rules. In addition, the Technical Commission of the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) determines rules for international play; most leagues outside North America use the complete FIBA ruleset.

Three-point field goal A basketball field goal made from beyond the designated three-point line (arc)

A three-point field goal is a field goal in a basketball game made from beyond the three-point line, a designated arc surrounding the basket. A successful attempt is worth three points, in contrast to the two points awarded for field goals made within the three-point line and the one point for each made free throw.

Flagrant foul

In basketball, a flagrant foul is a personal foul that involves excessive or violent contact that could injure the fouled player. A flagrant foul may be unintentional or purposeful; the latter type is also called an "intentional foul" in the National Basketball Association (NBA). However, not all intentional fouls are flagrant fouls, as it is an accepted strategy to intentionally commit a foul in order to regain possession of the ball while minimizing how much time elapses on the game clock.

Glossary of basketball terms Wikipedia glossary

This glossary of basketball terms is a list of definitions of terms used in the game of basketball. Like any other major sport, basketball features its own extensive vocabulary of unique words and phrases used by players, coaches, sports journalists, commentators, and fans.

Gus Macker 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament

The Gus Macker 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament is a nationwide event for players of a variety of age and skill levels in the United States. Although every tournament is different, a typical Gus Macker event involves basketball courts set up in parking lots or closed-off public streets Tournaments are mid-level to major sports media events and are held virtually every weekend from spring through summer.

Key (basketball) Area on a basketball court

The key, officially referred to as the free throw lane by the National Basketball Association (NBA), the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), and the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), the restricted area by the international governing body FIBA, and colloquially as the lane or the paint, is a marked area on a basketball court surrounding the basket. It is bounded by the endline, the free-throw line and two side lines, and usually painted in a distinctive color. It is a crucial area on the court where much of the game's action takes place.

Official (basketball) Official who enforces the rules and maintains order in a basketball game

In basketball, an official enforces the rules and maintains order in the game. The title of official also applies to the scorers and timekeepers, as well as other personnel that have an active task in maintaining the game. Basketball is regarded as among the most difficult sports to officiate due to the speed of play, complexity of rules, the case-specific interpretations of rules, and the instantaneous decision required.

Basketball is a ball game and team sport in which two teams of five players try to score points by throwing or "shooting" a ball through the top of a basketball hoop while following a set of rules. Since being developed by James Naismith as a non-contact game that almost anyone can play, basketball has undergone many different rule variations, eventually evolving into the NBA-style game known today. Basketball is one of the most popular and widely viewed sports in the world.

3x3 basketball Basketball variant played on half of a regulation court

3x3 basketball is a form of the game played three a side on one basketball hoop. According to an ESSEC Business School study commissioned by the International Olympic Committee, 3x3 is the largest urban team sport in the world. This basketball game format is currently being promoted and structured by FIBA, the sport's governing body. Its primary competition is an annual FIBA 3X3 World Tour, comprising a series of Masters and one Final tournament, and awarding six-figure prize money in US dollars. The FIBA 3x3 World Cups for men and women are the highest tournaments for national 3x3 teams.

The FIBA 3x3 World Cup is a 3x3 basketball tournament for national teams organized by the International Basketball Federation (FIBA). The debut of the tournament then named as the FIBA 3x3 World Championship was held in August 2012 in Athens, Greece. The current champions are United States in the men's division and China in the women's division.


Big3 is a 3-on-3 basketball league founded by hip hop musician and actor Ice Cube and entertainment executive Jeff Kwatinetz. The league consists of twelve teams whose rosters include both former NBA players and international players. The rules enforced in Big3 games contain major deviations from the official rules of 3-on-3 basketball as administered by FIBA. In January 2020, Big3 announced its rule set would be the core of a new basketball variant called "Fireball3".

The 2018 National Invitation Tournament was a single-elimination tournament of 32 NCAA Division I college men's basketball teams that were not selected to participate in the 2018 NCAA Tournament. The first three rounds of the annual tournament were played on campus sites. The semifinals and championship game were held at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

The 2019 National Invitation Tournament (NIT) was a single-elimination tournament of 32 NCAA Division I men's college basketball teams that were not selected to participate in the 2019 NCAA Tournament. The tournament started on March 19, and concluded on April 4. The first three rounds were played on campus sites with the higher seeded team acting as host. The semifinals and championship game were held at Madison Square Garden in New York City.


  1. "Official Basketball Rules 2006" (pdf). International Basketball Federation. 2006. Archived from the original on 6 April 2007. Retrieved 2007-04-14.
  2. Wissel, Hal (1994). Basketball: steps to success. United States: Human Kinetics Publishers, Inc. pp. ix. ISBN   0-7360-5500-2.
  3. "NCAA Men's and Women's Basketball Court" (PDF). NCAA. June 17, 2019. Retrieved October 9, 2019.
  4. "NCAA Basketball Court Diagram" (pdf). NCAA. 2018. Retrieved March 11, 2018.
  5. Basketball Glossary Terms, Definition, Lane violation, Low post Archived November 19, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  6. "Shaq and the No Charge Zone Rule". Factuation. Factuation. July 1, 2015. Retrieved February 27, 2018. In the 1997-1998 season, NBA added the “no charge zone” or the “restricted area”. This is the portion of the key, denoted by an arc in the painted area that is positioned four feet from the basket. The arc is important because a defending player can not force a charging foul within this area. It was designed to provide benefit offensive post-up player like [Shaquille] O’Neal, players who drive to the basket and limit collisions.
  8. "The FIBA Central Board approves historic rule changes" (Press release). FIBA. 2008-04-26. Archived from the original on 30 April 2008. Retrieved 2008-04-28.