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Mom RULES: Basketball Court Orientation
by Joanne Mikola
March 28, 2001

Space Jam . A great fantasy video for Michael Jordan and Looney Tunes fans.
Hoosiers.  Gene Hackman as Coach. Terrific film.


Sports Illustrated For Kids 
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The second in a series of lessons aimed at Moms and other first time players, teachers, coaches and referees of the game of basketball. 

Note: The word 'centre' is spelled correctly for British English. 'Metre' is also acceptable. American English, and most spell check programs, will only recognize 'center' and 'meter' as the right way.

The Basketball Court

Just to confuse those of us easily confused, there really is no such thing as a "standard" basketball court. There could be college and pro standard ones (N.B.A. and N.C.A.A.) or high school standard, international standard (F.I.B.A.) or that for women (C.I.A.U.) The courts that most of us will be dealing with will be the high school 84' foot length ones. The only other major differences are the shape and width of the Key and the distance from the the centre of the actual basket to the Three Point Line. 

Mom says, 'So, what?"
If you are playing in the driveway, your court is the width of the pavement. You want to play in the basement, mark the floor with wide masking tape, and that is the size of your court. Go. Play. 

The Actual Basket
Baskets are mounted on a Backboard frame, at each end of the court, 4 feet in from the Baseline (edge along the width of the court) towards the centre of the court. 

The Backboard portion is a standard 6' wide  x 4' high. 

Basket ring is 18 inches in diameter, 10 feet above floor level. It would not be unreasonable to see the rings set to 8' in a junior school. You are still playing with that toddler net? No problem. No slam dunks or swinging on the hoop. 

The actual basketball is orange, weighs 20 to 22 ounces ounces, and is  9" inches in diameter, with a circumference of 29 1/2 to 30 inches. (Ooopps. Time to pump it up)

Floor Markings
What is important about each of these markings?

Centre Circle : To start the game, this 6' foot radius circle is used for a "jump" ball to determine which team has first possession of the ball. It is also used after a 'holding' call is made by the ref ( 2 players holding, pulling, fighting over possession for longer than 5 seconds). 

The Key - named for the 'keyhole' shape area in front of the basket.
During free throws after a penalty is called, team members line up along both sides, and outside, of the Key. They are now ready to grab the rebound of an unsuccessful basket or to take possession for the throw in after the point(s) scored. This zone is also called the "three second lane". During play there is timed access and a limit to the number of players allowed in the Key zone at any given time. 

Free Throw Line : Feet behind the line. The player awarded a free throw has 10 seconds to shoot.

Three Point Line : A player that shoots a basket successfully from 'outside' the 3 point line scores the bonus points.

Half Court Line : When a team takes possession in its own half of the court, it has 10 seconds to advance the ball across this centre line.

Sideline - After the referee has called a foul, the 'injured' party takes possession of the ball and performs a 'throw in' from the sideline. This player has a limited time (5 seconds) to survey player positions, and pass the ball to a teammate not being effectively blocked by an opposing team member. 

Baseline - (end zone) Throw-ins after scoring. After the referee has handed/touched the ball, an opposing team member takes possession and starts the next round of play. 

Practice Time

1. Line drills : The purpose is to familiarize players with the floor, where the lines are (so they feel it, not just see it) and to build dexterity in really using the lines for physical activity. It is also to build strength and stamina since basketball is such a fast paced sport. Run from one baseline (or end line) to the free-throw line and back to the end line, then to the half court line and back to the end line, then to the opposite free throw line and back to the end line, then to the other end line and back. This drill can also be done while practicing dribbling. To review dribbling, click here.

2. Dodge Ball Tag : Requires 3 - 4 'linemen/referees' in rotation, to retrieve balls going outside of the playing area, in addition to players in the court (any number). The purpose is to watch the ball and the action of the players, but the goal is to NOT touch or be touched by the ball. Linemen will watch for Players stepping out of bounds. Once you have been tagged by the ball, you must take possession and tag/throw at someone else. Three tags and you're benched and/or swap roles with a lineman. Alternatively, time the team for 3 minutes and rotate in the linemen. Restart the clock. Any large soft ball can be used instead of a basketball. 

3. Dribble Relay : Divide your group evenly in both numbers and abilities into teams. Starting line is the baseline. Set the distance. Start your stopwatch and go! 

4 Play at our interactive puzzle.


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Submitted by:  © Joanne Mikola  I am a retired/expired Trauma O.R. Nurse who still thrives on blood, guts and crises. Give me a book, and I will relish every page. Give me a pen, and I can only stare hopelessly at the implications. Drop a note to Joanne


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