Sports 101: The Evolution of Basketball Rules

evolution of basketballHistory:

Dr. James Naismith was born November 6, 1861 in Ontario Canada and Died at the age of 78 November 28, 1939 in Lawrence, Kansas, USA.

He is known as the inventor of basketball in 1891. He was appointed to develop an indoor sport during winter for the YMCA Training School in Springfield, Massachusetts. The equipments consist of peach baskets and a ball that look like a soccer ball. There were two teams with 9 players each, teaching them the fundamentals of the game. The objective was to throw the ball in the basket which was nailed to the balcony of the gym. Whenever a basket has been made the game was stop so that the janitor could climb to a ladder and pull out the ball from the inside. The first basketball game was in Springfield, Massachusetts on March 11, 1892.


Dr. Naismith devised his 13 rules for the game he invented. During his time there was no dunking, dribbling, shot clock violation, 3 point shot, and goal tending was not illegal.

1. Ball may be thrown in any direction with one or both hands.

Current Game Rule Adaptation:

The old rule number 1 still exist, the ball can be passed or thrown in any direction. In time, backcourt violation is added to the rule.

2. Ball may be hit in any direction with one or both hands not using the fist.

Current Game Rule Adaptation:

The ball may still be batted away with one or both hands. Also, this rule is correlated with blocked shot; wherein a defensive player may block a shot if the ball is on the upward direction to the basket.

3. Player should not run with the ball. Player should pass the ball from the place where he catches it, allowance to be made for a player running at good speed.

Current Game Rule Adaptation:

As the game evolves, players should dribble or pass while running. The player will be called for a travelling violation if the player moved his pivot foot without dribbling the ball first.

4. The ball must be held in or between the hands; the arms or body must not be used for holding it.

Current Game Rule Adaptation:

The rule still exists. “As is”

5. No shouldering, holding, striking, pushing, or tripping in any way of an opponent. The first infringement of this rule by any person shall count as a foul; the second shall disqualify him until the next basket is made or, if there was evident intent to injure the person, for the whole of the game. No substitution shall be allowed.

Current Game Rule Adaptation:

Offenses from the old rule still result to foul or ejection from the game or suspension for a period of time if proved that there is an intention to injure the opponent. Intentional or flagrant foul against the opponent will results in two shots and a ball possession.

6. A foul is striking at the ball with the fist, violation of rules three and four and such described in rule five.

Current Game Rule Adaptation:

Fisting the ball is still an offense to the game and could result to turning over the ball possession to the opposing team. This is why passing the ball is one of the fundamentals of the game and a skill that every player needs to develop.

7. If either side makes three consecutive fouls, it shall count a goal for the opponents (consecutive means without the opponents in the mean time making a foul).

Current Game Rule Adaptation:

The old rule 7 has been modified, in a quarter after consecutive fouls has been accumulated by a team, a penalty is being given to the opposing team. In game, FIBA and NBA have the same number of “team fouls” allowed per quarter, which is five. During penalty, two free throws will be awarded to the fouled player.

8. A goal shall be made when the ball is thrown or batted from the grounds into the basket and stays there (without falling), providing those defending the goal does not touch or disturb the goal. If the ball rests on the edges, and the opponent moves the basket, it shall count as a goal.

Current Game Rule Adaptation:

The old rule in number 8 has changed. Since the basket has a hole in it, all the player need to do is to shoot the ball in the basket. Goaltending violation will be called if a player touches the rim once the ball is on the way to the basket. In NBA, an offensive basketball interference is called when a player touch the ball when the ball is touching or already inside the cylinder. While in FIBA, goal tending merely exist since players are allowed to touch the ball as long as the ball is not inside the cylinder.

9. When the ball goes out of bounds, it shall be thrown into the field of play and played by the first person touching it. In case of dispute the umpire shall throw it straight into the field. The thrower-in is allowed five seconds. If he holds it longer, it shall go to the opponent. If any side persists in delaying the game, the umpire shall call a foul on that side.

Current Game Rule Adaptation:

The five-second rule is still implemented when inbounding the ball, if a player does not pass the ball from the in-bound within five seconds, the ball is turned over to the opponent.

10. The umpire shall be the judge of the men and shall note the fouls and notify the referee when three consecutive fouls have been made. He shall have power to disqualify people according to Rule 5.

Current Game Rule Adaptation:

Today in professional basketball, there are three referees who are making the call for fouls, decide ejections and manage the ball game inside the court.

11. The referee shall be judge of the ball and shall decide when the ball is in play, in bounds, to which side it belongs, and shall keep the time. He shall decide when a goal has been made and keep account of the baskets, with any other duties that are usually performed by a scorekeeper.

Current Game Rule Adaptation:

As the game evolves, the referees are still the one who decides ball possession. On the other hand, there are individual timekeepers who monitor the clock and verify the substitute players to the game. A scorekeeper is the one who lists the scores, individual stats and the fouls. They are often labeled as “game committee” or “game officials”

12. The time shall be two fifteen-minute halves, with five minutes rest between.

Current Game Rule Adaptation:

The old rule has been modified; the halftime break is fifteen minutes and the game last for about 40 minutes in FIBA and college games, while NBA is a 48 minute basketball game.

13. The side making the most points in that time is declared the winner. In case of a draw the game may, by agreement of the captains, be continued until another goal is made.

Current Game Rule Adaptation:

Currently, when the scores are tied after the two halves have been played; the game will go to overtime until one team with the most points wins the game at the end of overtime. Overtime for both the FIBA and the NBA is five minutes extra time.

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