How Basketball Works

By: Kevin Bonsor
Basketball player dunks the ball with two hands.
Basketball was invented in 1891. Noam Galai / / Getty Images

Basketball is more than the slam-dunks shown on television sports shows. It is a sport of agility and endurance that develops hand-eye coordination among its participants. At its essence, basketball requires only a basket, a ball, and at least two players. The simplicity of the sport is credited to Dr. James Naismith, who invented basketball in 1891 by nailing two peach baskets to the balconies on opposite ends of a YMCA gym in Springfield, Massachusetts.

Since then, basketball has overtaken baseball as the unofficial American pastime. In 2001, more than 28 million Americans participated in basketball, which is more than any other team sport, according to the National Sporting Goods Association (NSGA). Internationally, more than 300 million people participate in basketball worldwide, according to the International Federation of Basketball (FIBA).


In this article, you'll learn about the equipment used to play a basketball game, how players score points, and the rules that players must follow. You will also learn how to identify players by the position they play and the numbers they wear.