According to modern rules, the game is played on a court with two opposing teams. At each of the far ends of the court there is a hoop attached to a rectangular backboard. The board is suspended on a pole or some other fixture. A funnel-shaped net is attached to the hoop.
The game is played by passing a ball by hand in-between members of the attacking team. The end goal is of shooting it through the defending team's hoop. Points are scored when the ball goes through the hoop. The net slows down the falling ball, thus, providing visual feedback.
Each team comprises of five players. Two are known as guards, two as forwards and the fifth as center. A referee initiates the game. He or she throws the first ball for the jump of two players at the center circle of the court. The player who grabs the ball first passes it to his or her team, which then starts mounting an attack.
The game is governed by many rules. Here is one of the best known: a player possessing the ball can move only if he bounces it every three steps. Failure to do so is considered traveling and is penalized. Moreover, once the player has stopped moving, he cannot resume it without first passing or shooting the basket.
Scoring from outside the three point line gains three points. Scoring from inside the three-point line, but outside the free throw lane brings two points. All other shots bring only one point.
Teams can have up to five substitutes. These can be brought into the game for jump balls or any other pauses, such as the ones caused by fouls.
The game is timed. The winning team is the one that accumulates the highest number of points at the end of the game.
The length of play sessions varies in different basketball organizations. For instance, NBA games have four quarters spanning 12 minutes each, with breaks in-between. Other rules require two 20-minute sessions. In case of a tie at the end of the allotted time, the game is extended. NBA allows for 5-minute overtime periods.
There are a few official basketball standards that govern the game, such as the FIBA or the NBA. Official measurements for the field are sometimes altered to accommodate weaker or shorter players, such as amateurs or children. The standard court's size is 94ft x 50ft. Nevertheless, many high-school and college courts are 10ft shorter.
The basketball court is divided in two halves by a center line. Each basket is enclosed with an outer semicircle, called the three-point line and an inner area called the free throw lane.
The basketball court has a polished wooden floor and players wear special basketball shoes for best grip and stability.
For men, the official ball is 29.5 inches in circumference and weighs 22 oz. If women are playing, the official basketball size is 28.5 inches in circumference with a weight of 20 oz.
The size of the backboard is 6ft x 3.5ft. The size of the hoop rim should be 18in (45.72cm). Some balls are lighter than others. The hoop needs to be 10ft above the ground.