To many, a basketball court is simply a rectangular playground with hoops on each end. In a way, that’s true, but it’s more than that. A basketball court has components that factor significantly into its gameplay. What are the parts of a basketball court? Let’s dissect the anatomy of a basketball court.
What Makes Up a Basketball Court?
A basketball court has different components, and every line, circle, and mark mean something. It may be confusing at first, but everything you see on a basketball court contributes greatly to the rules and how the game should be played. Understanding every component gives you an edge in understanding the rules of the game better. In turn, such understanding could help you strategize.
Here are some of the significant parts of a basketball court that you should be aware of:
- Basketball Hoop. The hoop or basket is probably the most important component in basketball. Without it, we wouldn’t have a game in the first place. It is the most recognizable thing on the court, as scoring happens when a team puts the ball in their designated hoop.
- Front Court and Back Court. The front court and backcourt are divided by the midcourt line. As its name suggests, the midcourt line is placed precisely in the middle of the basketball court. What a team calls their front or back court depends on whether they have possession of the ball. The team who has the basketball calls the part of the court where their basket is located the “front court.” Conversely, the other half of the basketball court is called the “back court.”
- Free Throw Lane. The free throw lane is the rectangle-shaped figure in a team’s front court where players line up during a free throw. It is alternatively called “the paint,” “the lane,” or “the key.” A set of rules for offense and defense has to be enforced in the paint. Offensive players cannot stay there for more than three seconds. Professional rules on defense also do not allow players to camp in the lane for more than three seconds. However, the defensive three-second rule is not enforced in high school and college basketball.
- Center Jump Circle. Having a radius of six feet, the jump circle in the center is where every basketball game starts. Two players from opposite teams engage in a “jump ball” by tipping the basketball to one of their teammates standing outside the center jump circle.
- Free Throw Circles. Free throw circles essentially have the exact dimensions as the center jump circle, but only on a different location. A player attempting a free throw stands in the center of the free throw circle. The free throw circle may also be used as a location of jump balls, other than jump balls at the start of the game or overtime.
- Three-Point Line. The three-point line is the arc or semi-circle on either side of the court. It is worth three points if an offensive player shoots beyond the three-point line. Any made field goal inside the arc is only worth two points. In the NBA, the three-point line was introduced in 1979.
- Sideline. The sidelines are the two lines that run through the full length of the basketball court. If you can imagine the basketball as a big rectangle, the sidelines are the two longest lines parallel to each other.
- Baseline. The baselines are the lines that connect the two sidelines. Basically, it represents the width of the basketball court, which is usually around 50 feet. A baseline is about four feet behind the basket.
- Elbow. The elbow area is the corner of the lane and the free throw line. It is essentially where a point of the lane or “paint” and the free thrown line meet.
- Low Block. The low blocks are areas on the edge of the free throw lane near the basket. Offensive post players, especially in the earlier eras, emphasize low block scoring because it is near the basket and established inside dominance.
- Restricted Area. The restricted area is only limited to the NBA and other professional leagues that followed suit. High school and college games do not have a restricted area. It is the semi-circle under the basket. A defensive player standing in the restricted area could not draw offensive fouls.
- Wing. The wing is the area on the free throw line extended.
- Corner. The corners are where the baselines and the sidelines meet. A three-point shot from the corner is said to be the shortest three-point distance at 22 feet. The rest of the arc is 23 feet and nine inches.
What are the Dimensions of a Basketball Court?
Basketball court dimensions differ a bit depending on the level of basketball being played.
NBA Basketball Court Dimensions
According to the official rule book of the league, the standard size of basketball court used by NBA should be 94 feet in length and 50 feet wide.
Here are the dimensions of some basketball markings and lines in the NBA:
- The outside of a center circle should have a radius of 6 feet. The inside circle is two feet.
- The free throw circle also has a radius of six feet.
- The free throw line is 19 feet from the baseline and 15 feet from the basket.
FIBA Basketball Court Dimensions
Under the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) rules, the basketball court is slightly smaller than the NBA. A FIBA basketball court is 91.9 feet long and 49.2 feet wide.
The center circle radius is also slightly smaller at 11.81 feet. The three point distance outside the arc is 22.15 feet, and the corner three is 21.65 feet.
High School Basketball Court Dimensions
Generally speaking, basketball court dimensions in high school games are considerably smaller than the NBA or FIBA. A high school basketball court is typically 84 feet long and 50 feet wide. Some junior high school courts are just 74 feet x 42 feet.
The three-point arc is at 19 feet and nine inches, and the key is 12 feet wide.
At the NCAA and WNBA, the court dimensions are similar to either FIBA or the NBA. The court length, width, and rim height are the same as the NBA, while the main three-point arc is the same as FIBA.
Wrapping Things Up: What are the Parts of a Basketball Court?
What are the different parts of a basketball court? Well, if basketball is just a hobby for you, you probably don’t know the answer. But to understand the game and the rules deeper, we suggest you dig more information about all measurements related to basketball.
For instance, the NBA, WNBA, and NCAA play in a basketball court 94 feet long and 50 feet wide. It may be considerably smaller in high school competitions, from 84 feet x 50 feet courts to 72 feet x 42 feet in some junior high school games.
What are some of the markings, lines, and circles scribbled all over the basketball court? There are three-point lines, baselines, sidelines, the free throw line, the midcourt line, etc. You can also see the center circles, free throw line circles, free throw lane, restricted area (in the NBA), and the low block. Knowing the functions of these lines and circles will help you a lot in terms of strategy and your overall game.
The next time someone asks, “What are the parts of a basketball court?” directly, go to this article and use the information here as a guide.
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