Basketball is one of the most popular and widely practiced team sports in the entire world today. Millions of people enjoy playing it, either as a hobby, as a means of socializing and exercise, or as a professional endeavor within the field of athletics. Basketball combines, like few other sports can, several key elements that make it an extremely attractive discipline for a wide range of people of all ages and backgrounds: it is a simple game that doesn’t require a steep learning curve for beginners, it can be played with just a few fairly basic items in just about any appropriate setting; and, best of all, it’s a lot of fun – while never ceasing to be challenging at the same time!
The lack of expensive or hard-to-acquire gear, and the straightforward nature of the game itself, have guaranteed the enduring success of basketball as one of the world’s premier sports, generating a massive following internationally, along with tremendous amounts of publicity, revenue, and high profile world.-class athletes. Though one of the more recent sports, don’t let its relatively short history fool you – basketball can be one of the most demanding physical and mental challenges you’ll ever face, as evidenced by the trailblazing performances of its most cherished stars worldwide.
Now, having said that, you might be surprised to learn that a growing number of people are incorporating basketball into their own backyards, in a wide range of locations around the world. The reason is simple: unlike some other disciplines, which make use of highly specialized equipment and facilities, basketball can be practiced with relative ease by practically anyone, with just a few key elements in place. Not only can this be an extremely interesting and beneficial asset to your home – not least for all the health and lifestyle-related benefits that practicing sport on a daily basis will provide – but it can also serve as an outlet for athletic development, free time, socializing, community activities and family time.
Having the ability to practice and play basketball in your own backyard is truly a wonderful thing. But before we get into the specifics, let´s have a deeper look into what exactly is basketball, and why you should care about it!
What is basketball?
So, as mentioned above, basketball is one of the world’s foremost team sports. In many parts of the world, including North America, it competes pretty much neck-to-neck with baseball and football in terms of popularity, air time, and revenue. For this reason alone, it should be considered one of the most important athletic disciplines in the world today.
Sometimes known as “hoops”, the game of basketball is a team sport consisting of two teams, typically both with five players on the court, competing for the goal of scoring a higher number of goals. A goal is awarded to whichever team manages to successfully throw the ball into, and through, the defending team’s hoop. The hoops themselves are like baskets, attached to backboards at a height of ten feet, on each end of the basketball court. Normally a field goal is worth two points, except if the player manages to throw the ball through the hoop from behind the three-point line, in which case their team will be awarded three points for the added difficulty of the throw.
In the case of a foul – which may be called by the officiating referee – the timed play will be stopped, after which the fouled player (or another player designated specifically for this task) will have the opportunity to shoot one or several free throws, each worth just one point. The team that has managed to accumulate the larger number of points by the time the game ends, will be declared the winner. In case of a tie, there will be an overtime period to break the tie and conclude the game with a definite result.
One of the most instantly recognizable characteristics of basketball, as opposed to other ball games, is the manner in which the ball itself is operated and maneuvered during the game. By the very nature of the game, the ball must be in nearly constant movement, with both teams actively seeking to gain control of it in order to most effectively deliver their shots to their opponent’s hoop. But in order to do that, the ball must be continuously bounced on the floor by each player´s hand, utilizing the bounciness of the basketball when forcefully impacted against the court floor. The tricky part is that the players need to keep bouncing the ball while they are walking or running across the court, either back to themselves or to pass it along to one of their teammates to execute some specific game plan or strategy – all the while making sure their opponent can’t manage to intercept the ball and gain control of it for their own benefit. For this reason, one of the most key abilities great basketball players need to develop and keep working on is their talent for being aware of the ball at all times, having excellent coordination between team members, and having a clear sense of where you are at any given moment with respect to your teammates, your opposing team, and the hoops, as well as the ball itself.
It’s easy to see, then, how basketball can be deceivingly difficult to execute on a professional level. Indeed, great players are few and far between, and most professionals and amateurs alike would agree that basketball does constitute a life-long commitment for those seeking excellence in their technique, leading to success on the court.
The game was invented in 1891 by James Naismith, a gymnastics teacher in Springfield, Massachusetts. Ever since, it has quickly become one of the most viewed sports in existence, with the NBA (National Basketball Association) being its most widely known and largest professional league. But many other leagues exist, both in the Americas and around the world, and it has even become one of the most followed Olympic events in recent years. Famous basketball players are celebrated the world over, alongside their counterparts in football and hockey, as exemplary athletes of great talent, marketability, and pop culture appeal.
How do you play basketball?
On each of the teams, there are typically five players. Each of these players will fall into a given position on the court – something known as a playing position, from which they execute their proper function within the wider whole of the team. Usually, the tallest member of the team will be placed in the center, the second tallest will be the power forward, and a somewhat smaller player might get put into the position of small forward; finally, the shortest players will typically occupy the positions of shooting guard and point guard, the latter of which is tasked with putting into play and coordinating the gameplans proposed by the team´s coach. The strategic positioning of each player for the execution of these game plans is highly precise, since it will more often than not determine the outcome of the play, which in turn can decisively impact the result of the entire game.
Generally speaking, the game plans and strategies are designed with the intent of either defending the team’s own hoop from any incoming shots from the opposing team or attempting to make an offensive move ending in a successful goal for the defending team. These strategies can get very complex, but many people also enjoy playing basketball simply on an intuitive basis, relying on their instincts and senses for determining the best chances for scoring, while protecting their own team.
The biggest secret, as I mentioned before, has to do with the bouncing of the ball itself. In order to get past an opponent, players will use a variety of tricks, techniques, and moves meant to distract your opponent, so that you´ll have a chance to get past them, either to shoot for the hoop yourself or to pass the ball to another teammate to continue the play forward.
It should also be noted that, except in cases where overtime is required, a normal game of basketball consists of a total of four periods with a duration of ten minutes each. In the short breaks between periods, each team will typically convene with their coach to discuss the next strategies going forward in the game. Other exceptions to this rule can occur, for instance, due to fouls or other extraordinary circumstances.
What equipment is required to play basketball?
One of the wonderful virtues of basketball, when compared to many other popular sports and activities, lies in the fact that it requires very little in the way of gear to get started. In fact, it is fair to say that most people will be able to play at least on a hobbyist level with little more than a decent basketball. Certainly, the ball itself is the most critical item since without the proper characteristics the gameplay would result extremely difficult, if not unfeasible altogether. The specific dimensions, materials, and physical properties of a basketball make it unique among other types of balls used in sports, and therefore there really is no way around the fact that you need to get at the very least a decent ball in order to be able to play basketball.
Beyond that, pretty much the only thing that absolutely is required for a proper game of basketball is a basketball hoop – sometimes also known as a basketball crucible. In short, this refers to the basket through which the ball will eventually be introduced, as well as the indispensable elements that configure it.
One of the most diverse elements one will find when it comes to basketball gear is the variety and types of crucibles or hoops that are available on the market. These exist in a wide range of configurations, so as to allow for the maximum range of flexibility when it comes to determining the specific space where you are going to be practicing the game. Everything from fully regulated FIBA approved basketball hoops, all the way to wall-mounted hoops, single-pole hoops, four-pole hoops, hydraulic hoops, etc. The type of basketball hoop that you end up choosing will have a significant impact on the kind of playing you’ll be able to accomplish with it, as well as in relation to the space that you will be using. For very small areas where space is limited, a wall-mounted hoop can be extremely convenient. This is also a great solution for those mostly interested in throwing a few hoops by themselves or with a couple of friends, mostly outside of the context of a properly regulated game. On the other hand, for those with available space on the ground, a single-pole hoop can easily be mounted, allowing for a much sturdier and more realistic experience, as far as the professional playing experience is concerned. For those more interested in adaptability, a hydraulic mechanized unit could be a great solution, allowing to change the dimensions and extension of the hoop. Finally, for those looking to recreate the full professional experience of a basketball game, a professionally approved FIBA basketball hoop would be necessary, and can be purchased by anybody who so wishes.
The hoop itself consists of several different key elements – the most crucial of which is the circle, the metallic frame which marks the area the ball must travel through for a goal to be scored. It is always mounted very firmly against a backboard. It is not possible to play basketball without a hoop, so this piece is a key component for every serious player. As per regulations, the hoop is always painted orange.
The next element that is important is the net of the basket, which consists of a loop net that serves the purpose of making the game safer for participants, by directing the course of the ball downwards once it penetrates the hoop. While you can in theory play decent basketball without a basket net, it will be a necessity if you´re looking for the full experience, and most importantly it will have a significant impact as far as personal safety is concerned, for both yourself and your friends and/or family who might end up playing with you.
And that’s about it, to be perfectly honest. Besides the above, the only remaining items are much less critical, being mainly limited to those who wish to recreate the full professional experience of a game. These would include things like a ball transportation cart (in case you have a number of basketballs to manage and keep in place), a protection pad for the basketball hoop for avoiding possible structural damage, a tactical board which the coach will use in between plays to explain the upcoming gameplans to his or her players, in a visually compelling way, and – last but not least – the personal apparel used by basketball players, namely a basketball jersey, some good sneakers, and some decent athletic socks. But, as mentioned, these are not a necessity for those looking to play some basketball in their backyard – but rather an “extra” for the more serious fans, hobbyists, and professional enthusiasts.
How big should your backyard be for playing basketball in it?
When it comes to creating a space for basketball in your backyard, the most critical step to be taken is to determine and limit the available space you are going to be using when finished. There is no single answer to this question – rather, it will depend on what you are looking to accomplish, as far as basketball playing. For instance, if you are interested in having a full professional basketball court in your backyard, then you do need to follow the regulations as per the dimensions: namely, 94 y 50 feet, for a full-sized basketball court – or half of that, if you wish to have a half-court instead, so 47 by 50 or 42 by 50 feet.
How many people can play basketball in my backyard?
Well, as far as the actual game goes, the rules state that basketball is a game played by two teams, each of which consists of a total of five members on the court. So, in short, the maximum number of people on a basketball court will be ten players, divided into two opposing teams. However, the actual number of people on the court at any given moment of a game will vary, based on variables such as penalties, fouls, time-outs, etc.
But, since we are talking specifically about playing basketball in your backyard, it might be the case that different scenarios will occur. For instance, you might never end up hosting fully regulated professional games, which obviously would also carry the implication of affecting the number of players possible. It is not uncommon for people to practice some form of basketball at their home, just with two or three buddies or family members, or even just one-on-one with one other person. Or you might even end up throwing some hoops and practicing your skills by yourself, just using relatively small space and a single hoop. So, essentially, anything from one person alone, up to ten people, can all practice some form of basketball, as long as we are not talking about exclusively professionally regulated games.
It is certainly true that, the more people you can play basketball with, the more fun and entertaining the experience will be, since it will make the game much more complex and diverse, allowing for a larger range of strategies to be implemented. Once you have enough people to be able to make two teams of more than two members each, you can begin to experience some of the true magic that happens at professional basketball games, even making your own gameplans with your teammates. This is a great way of experiencing team spirit and sportsmanship. On the other hand, playing and practicing by yourself, or just with one or two other people can be a very chilled and relaxing experience, allowing you to blow off some steam while getting good exercise, and still improving upon your skills at the same time.
For what ages is basketball appropriate? Can children and teens play it safely?
Generally speaking, basketball is one of the safest sports out there. As opposed to some other team sports – like soccer, ice hockey, football, or baseball – basketball does not usually entail any form of high-impact moves, potentially dangerous physical contact, or a high risk of getting hit by a fast-moving object. While injuries can and do happen sometimes, they are mostly related to the prolonged physical exercise itself, or some issue with the basketball hoop, rather than any intrinsically risky aspects of the sport.
Children and teenagers do indeed practice basketball from a pretty young age, and youths are known to be quite enthusiastic about achieving a high level of excellence in this field. While it should not be practiced by very young or small children, generally it is not uncommon for children from about the age of nine to start learning the game. One thing that is highly important, though, Is to realize that youths aged from about nine to eleven or so, should not be using a full-sized professional basketball; rather, your should acquire a specific youth basketball for these young players, which is more reduced in its dimensions and weight, making it more appropriate and manageable for them at their young age. and stage of development. Besides the comfort issue, it could be a risk for their health for them to use a heavy full-size ball, since they will still lack the proper strength and fortitude to fully be able to control and operate the ball – which does genuinely take some effort to master, even for adults with experience.
Finally, what should I be paying attention to?
So, you’ve decided you’d like to be able to play basketball in your backyard. Well, great! That’s an awesome choice, and it will surely bring hours and days of fun, socializing and physical exercise to you, your friends, or your family. The first step, now, is to figure out what exactly are you interested in: are you looking to have a full professional court in your backyard – which will require a larger space and professionally approved gear – or would you settle for a smaller area for practicing in a smaller group? Will you be needing two hoops, one for each end of the court – or will one hoop be enough for your needs? Do you wish to mount a hoop on a wall, and utilize that space for this purpose – or do you prefer a sturdy single-pole hoop, or maybe something even larger and more stable? These are all valid questions, and ones you should definitely be asking yourself at this point. Ultimately, what makes for a good basketball area in your backyard is up to you. Your needs and wishes will determine the best course of action. So, enjoy!