How to Play Basketball? A to Z Guide for a Beginner

Are you enthusiastic about learning the ropes that basketball entails? No worries as you are in the right place. For a start, get it into your mind that this isn’t a fantasy game, it requires a good shape and the right skills for you to become a pro.

This guide will take you through the basic essentials and step by step instructions on how to play basketball.

As a newbie basketball player, knowing the fundamentals of the game might be tiresome. It is quite necessary for you to be equipped with these major skills to help gear your way up the learning curve in the shortest time possible.

How to Play Basketball

Practice should be your greatest priority, the more drills you take partake the more experienced you will become.

What are the important items required?

Before getting to the pitch and starting the training, you should first ensure that you have or know where you may access the below items.

The ball

A ball is the central part of any training. For starters, a rubber ball is recommended. The age and gender play an important role when choosing a ball size. You may use an inflated ball if your skills are quite advanced. The standard circumference size of the ball is from 28.5 inches to 30 inches.


The uniform can be subdivided into two; the jersey and the shoes. Basketball shoes are not the ordinary running ones, they are high-tipped and give more support to your ankle. They are built to accommodate the high traction when playing the game.

The jersey is what differentiates your team to that of your opponents and includes the shirt along with the short. The shirt should have numbers at the back and on the front for easy identification.

The basketball court

As per international standards, a court should be rectangular and have measurements of around 28m by 17m of the total floor surface. Wooden floorboard courts are the most common. The official court is rectangle-shaped with baskets on either end.

The shot clock

The offense is given up to 24 seconds of holding the ball before shooting. Should they miss a shot, the ball is given to the defending team. The shot clock is used to do the countdown.

The hoop

This is a circular horizontal metallic rim. It is also called the basket. A net is attached to the rim and helps you to score a point. You should mount the rim at least 10 feet high from the basketball court and some 4 feet in the baseline.

Moreover, the rim should have a diameter of about 18 inches. The hoop is normally backed by a backboard which is used to bounce shots.

Step by step guidance on playing basketball

After learning the aforementioned basic skills, you should be ready to get your hands dirty! Without much further ado, let’s get the ball rolling. But before that, two teams are required. Pick the side you will be playing on, either the offensive or the defensive.

Moving the ball

Instead of using your palm to dribble the ball, try using your fingertips. Your head should always be up when you are dribbling the ball to enable you to see your teammates or the opposition. While keeping your body low, keep your opposer at bay using your off-ball hand and your body to block the defender from accessing the ball.

The ball should go no higher than your waist. Try dribbling while alternating your two hands as you continue moving. For more practice, put up around six chairs in the driveway and dribble around them by making a figure eight. The best dribbling is done without looking at the ball.

When in possession of the ball, stand still with one of your feet planted on the ground from which you can pivot on. Alternatively, dribble the ball up and down the floor constantly as you move around. Stop dribbling and prepare to shoot or pass the ball to your fellow teammates.

another post of us: NBA Rules of Basketball


This is majorly the most difficult part. To be a great passer, you should be able to have an overview of the whole court. Guessing the direction a defender will move to as well as your teammates is a most effective technique. It may surprise you to know that many of the winning teams have got good passers behind their success.

How do you get the ball to your co-players well? Together with the other trainees, learn how to do chest passes. Alternatively, try the overhead passes whereby the ball is kept directly over your head. Lastly, do bounce passes by targeting the length of the floor to your nearest team member.

Shooting the ball

To improve your shooting ability, you should practice using the proper techniques at all drills. Just assume you are under pressure or in normal game competitions. Stop dribbling and prepare yourself to shoot. You can use the sweet jump shot to give more power to the ball.

You may hear your coach tell you to “square up”. This term means pointing both your toes parallel to the hoop. Also, move your hips back so that your front side is in line with the hoop. More accurate shots are made when squaring up.

Try balancing the ball on your main hand using the weaker hand. Extend your dominant hand up and out as you move it towards the hoop. Then put your legs apart slightly and jump straight up a bit to give more power to shot and finally release the ball.

Point to note

It’s better for you to aim the ball to the center of the rim to avoid hitting it from the side. This makes your ball bounce back to you thus missing the score. Learn shooting from different angles of the court to sharpen your shooting skills.

How to defend

When defending a player, your head should be lower than his. Always stay close to them and be in a position to dictate their next move. Get low and wide by making your feet wider than the shoulder width and extend your arms out to the sides.

Make sideways movements with your hip while your feet are standing flat on the ground.Avoid jumping too much in the air when defending and stand straight to your opponent and just do 90 degrees throw arms wave as destruction.

Be cautious of your fellow teammates so that in case they lose the ball, you will be in a better chance to retrieve it. As you defend, a foul is the worst enemy you need to avoid.

Scenarios that lead to a foul

According to basketball rules, should a player make a wrong move or mishandle a ball, a penalty is awarded. In this perspective, the player loses the ball and it is then given to the other team. Some of the violations include;

Back court

In case the offensive team gets the ball halfway the court, they are not allowed to get it back to the defender’s half-court.


Also called carrying. While dribbling, a player’s hand should always be on the top side of the ball and not on the bottom side.

Double dribble

Dribbling is done only once. If you stop, shoot the ball or pass it over to your co-player.


In the instance, you stop dribbling, one foot becomes your pivot point. Should you move your pivot foot or lift it up, it is considered a foul.

Nine simple techniques for proper basketball playing

Exercising the below easy to follow techniques will help you play well.

1. Pick your position

Before deciding on what place fits you, it’s good to try out all the positions so that you can gauge what works for you. This might require getting a second opinion from your coach or friends.

2. Guards

They are the ones behind the offense. These players set the pace for the game, shoot from outside, and move the ball down the court. To be a better guard, you should be quick on how you handle the ball.

3. Centers

Most center players are tall and more physical than the others. The functions of the centers are to guard the hoop they are defending, grabbing rebounds and aligning themselves near the hoop for the shots.

4. Forwards

They come in second after the centers. They defend the ball and are good at passing the shots from outside. Their presence is highly felt across the court and are basically adored for the excellent cuts made.

5. Enough practice

Rome wasn’t made in a day, keep practicing how to defend, shoot or dribble frequently. Only then will you be able to master these techniques and the game like the professionals.

6. Learn how to grab rebounds

If you are a center or a forward player, blocking your opponents gives you a better chance to grab a rebound. In addition, if you are can out jump them, you will stand a better chance of getting the ball.

7. Pass the ball around

A good team keeps their opponents on their toes by constantly moving the ball. Your passes need to be quick and timely in order to get a free lane to the rim. Don’t be selfish and continue dribbling the ball around without passing it over as you might end up losing it.

8. Practice making cuts

When one of your team members is in possession of the ball, move around and don’t just wait for the pass. Shake your defender and try to open up to get the shot better. Remember you aren’t playing alone but as a team.

9. Set up picks

This is done by blocking the opponents with your body so that your teammate with the ball can surpass the defender. Although when on the offense, any player is allowed to set up a pick, forwards normally set the picks for guards.

5 Qualities of a good basketball player

As a beginner, you can easily become a pro within a very short period of time or derail in your success if these fundamentals are not exploited.

1. Attitude

A right mindset and great understanding prowess were and are still the key for anybody who wants to achieve a certain goal. A player who has a bad attitude towards their coach, referee or teammate doesn’t go far. In case of a failure, you need to stay calm and have that inner understanding of taking that failure as a stepping stone to your success.

2. Ability to learn

Even the great players are always learning from their coaches or mentors. They even have a timetable for exercising and horn their skills. As an aspiring player, finding your areas of weakness and working to change them into your success must be your main key.

3. Communication

Successful teams have team members that have great communication skills. It is awkward for a player to discard a coach’s instructions or shrug off a co-player for not passing the ball. It can get ugly when it turns more physical.

That player ends up on the bench, gets eliminated from the team eventually or misses on other important selections from outside clubs. A good player communicates well with the fellow players, coaches and maintains eye contact when the game is on.

4. Confidence

A good player is confident about their skills and the team as a whole. Regardless of who the opponents are, the team is focused on nothing else than winning the game.

5. Determination

No matter the outcome of a particular game, the player still has the guts to push on and strive to put in more effort for the next round.This player will go back to the drawing board and if possible, emulate their opposer’s strategies.

Bottom line

Basketball has recently become a most-watched game around the world. Many people are now taking an interest in learning how the game is played. The pre-requisites to consider are; the items required, the procedures to follow, and the necessary skills to help you up to your desire of becoming a better basketballer.

Leave a Comment