Basketball for Beginners

7th March 2011

Basketball is a growing sport in the U.K. However for many of you out there phrases like “nothing but net” or “making it rain” will mean nothing more than owning nothing but a net or trying to induce stormy weather. So we at URN hope that this brief overview of one of the world’s most exciting sports will whet your appetite and encourage you to come down to University Park sports centre and cheer on your University of Nottingham basketball men and women on Friday 11th March!

Basic rules.
Basketball is a forty minute game comprising of four quarters. Two points are given for a basket scored inside the area and three points are given for baskets from outside the area, known sensibly as “three pointers”. Fouls outside the area including travelling (taking more than two steps without dribbling the ball) or a double dribble (dribbling, stopping, then dribbling again) result in a turnover of possession, usually taken from the sideline. Fouls in the area result in a shot taken from the free-throw line; with one point scored for a converted basket.

Five players make up each basketball side:

Point guard: Generally team’s best passer. Brings the ball up court and makes the plays. In attack stays at the top of the key to dictate passing and to be able to get back on defence.

Shooting guard: Somewhat self-explanatory. A shooting guard rarely has much to do inside the area but comes to the fore making those all-important three pointers.

Centre: The bigger the better if you want to be a centre. In many ways a centre’s job is very simple; collect the ball in the key, pivot and hit the lay up for two points. Obviously the job of a centre is by no means that easy as a good centre need agility as well brute strength and guile.

Small forward: The equivalent of football’s ‘utility’ player. Your small forward has to be able to shoot threes and jumpers (shots for two points inside the area) as well play well on the inside and compete for those all important rebounds. Not a job for the weak hearted!

Power forward: A slightly stronger version of the small forward, expected to spend more time in and around the key. Should be able to make it rain (do lots of) jump shots in and around a key so scoring is less reliant on lay ups than a centre.

Origins of the game.
In December 1891 a man called Dr. James Naismith, a Canadian physical-education instructor at the Y.M.C.A. in Springfield, Massachusetts, USA; was trying to keep his gym class active on a rainy day. He sought a vigorous indoor game to keep his students occupied and at proper levels of fitness during the long New England winters. After rejecting other ideas as either too rough or poorly suited to walled-in gymnasiums, he wrote the basic rules and nailed a peach basket onto a 10-foot elevated track. In contrast with modern basketball nets, this peach basket retained its bottom, and balls had to be retrieved manually after each “basket” or point scored; this proved inefficient, however, so the bottom of the basket was removed. The peach baskets were used until 1906 when they were finally replaced by metal hoops with backboards. A further change was soon made, so the ball merely passed through, paving the way for the game we know today. An association football was used to shoot baskets. Whenever a person got the ball in the basket, his team would gain a point. Whichever team got the most points won the game. The baskets were originally nailed to the mezzanine balcony of the playing court, but this proved impractical when spectators on the balcony began to interfere with shots. The backboard was introduced to prevent this interference; it had the additional effect of allowing rebound shots. The sport we know as basketball was born.