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Created over 120 years ago, basketball has grown to become one of the world’s leading sports. It has gained millions of fans worldwide and continues to advance to this day.
Throughout basketball’s rich history, especially during the last few decades, its skilled gameplay and discipline has undergone many changes. Some of which, are slightly radical and some subtle. Amongst these changes, the dimensions of the courts have perhaps been one of the only elements that have remained fairly consistent over the years. In this post, we are breaking down a basketball court layout so that even as a complete beginner you can get a good idea of what everything means.
Back To Basics
So, you’ve likely seen a basketball court before. It’s pretty much made up of lines and circles. Before we go any further, just know that this explanation is based on a full-sized court. We will first explain the goings-on in the middle of the court and then we will dive into what happens on either end.
The Middle Of The Court
There is a line that runs straight through the center of a court which is called the half-court line or simply mid-court. In the middle of the line that signifies the middle of the court, there is a circle known as the center circle. This is where the game is started from with a jump ball.
Either End Of The Court
This is where things can get a little confusing as there is so much going on at either end of the basketball court. First of all, there is a rectangle shape around the basketball hoop. At the end of the rectangle, facing the hoop there is another circle known as the free throw circle. Half of that circle is inside the rectangle and the other half is outside of it. The very end of the rectangle which is halfway in the circle indicates the free throw line. It is about 15 feet from the basket and it means that any player that is taking a foul shot (or a free throw as it is also known) cannot cross this line. Outside of the rectangle that surrounds the basket and the free throw circle, there is another marking that signifies the three-point line. The exact same markings are replicated on the other side of the court.
Sidelines And Boundaries
Surrounding the entire basketball court there is a thick line. These are the boundaries of the game. The lines at the side of the court are known as the sidelines and the ones behind the basketball hoops are called the base line. Inside these lines are in play and outside of them are not.
Other Things To Know
Once you have the hang of the basketball court layout and you are clear on what the markings mean, then its time to learn a few other bits of terminology. The side of the basketball court that your team is shooting, is called the frontcourt. Alternatively, the side containing the basketball hoop that your opponent is shooting in is called the backcourt.
Basketball Court Dimensions
In order to start outlining the dimensions of a basketball court, it is important to know that not all basketball courts will be the same. However, there are certain aspects that basketball courts around the world must have, regardless of the level and the league that is played.
Even though there are many other varying factors depending on the place and the regulations in which you are playing, there are several elements that are universally common in all the courts around the world. For example,
- Sideline (length)
- Baseline (width)
- Foul line
- “The paint” area
- 3 Point Line
Let’s start by defining the dimensions of each of these sections at the same time that we specify the different measurements applied at different levels. Including, those that are used in the most important and advanced leagues around the world.
Length And Width
- NBA, WNBA & NCAA: All basketball courts at these levels are 94 feet (approximately 28.6 m) long and 50 feet (15 m) wide.
- FIBA: Courts at the international level are 92 feet (28 m) long and 49 feet (15 m) wide.
- High School And Junior High: The courts are a bit smaller at this level. They are typically 84 feet (approximately 25.6 m) long and 50 feet (15 m) wide.
The Foul Line
At all levels, the foul line distance is 15 inches from the front of the backboard and 18 feet and 10 inches from the baseline.
“The Paint” Area
- NBA, WNBA & FIBA: At the highest level it´s 16 feet wide.
- NCAA: For some reason, the free throw line for college basketball is way shorter than any other basketball court. It extends to 12 feet wide.
- High School And Junior High: It extends to 15 inches all the way from the front of the backboard to the free-throw line.
Every basketball court has 3 circles. The main one is right in the center of the court. The other two are on each end, centered on the foul line. All three of them are 6 inches in diameter.
- NBA: This is by far the longest 3-point line among all courts, leagues, and competitions. It´s 23.75 feet (7.23 m) in the middle and 22 feet (6.7 m) from the corners.
- FIBA & WNBA: On both international and WNBA the 3-point line is 22.15 feet (6.75 m) long from the middle and 21.65 feet (6.6 m) long from the corners.
- NCAA: At the college level it´s 20.75 feet, roughly 6.3 meters.
- High School And Junior High: 19.75 feet or 6 meters
If you are looking at creating a basketball court for a team or school, then there are more areas that you should consider. They are areas that are common in all competitions and ones that you should account for to ensure that there is enough room for them. For example, the team´s bench area, a space reserved for game officials, a safety area that surrounds the entire basketball court, an area for photographers and different members of the media, and potentially many other spaces.