In basketball, the basketball court is the playing surface, consisting of a rectangular floor, with baskets at each end. Indoor basketball courts are almost always made of polished wood, usually maple, with 3.048 metres (10.00 ft)-high rims on each basket. Outdoor surfaces are generally made from standard paving materials such as concrete or asphalt.
Basketball courts come in many different sizes. In the National Basketball Association (NBA), the court is 94 by 50 feet (28.7 by 15.2 m). Under International Basketball Federation (FIBA) rules, the court is slightly smaller, measuring 28 by 15 meters (91.9 by 49.2 ft). In amateur basketball, court sizes vary widely. Many older high school gyms were 84 feet (26 m) or even 74 feet (23 m) in length. The baskets are always 3.05 metres (10.0 ft) above the floor (except possibly in youth competition).
Basketball courts have a three-point arc at both baskets. A basket made from behind this arc is worth three points; a basket made from within this line, or with a player's foot touching the line, is worth 2 points. The free-throw line, where one stands while taking a foul shot, is located within the three-point arc at 15 feet from the plane of the backboard. A foul shot is worth 1 point, but if a shot is made from the foul line while in play it is still worth 2 points.
|Court length||94 ft||28.65 m||91.86 ft||28 m||Same as NBA|
|Court width||50 ft||15.24 m||49.21 ft||15 m||Same as NBA|
|Rim height||10 ft||3.05 m||Same as NBA|
|No Charge Zone arc||4 ft||1.22 m||4.10 ft||1.25 m||Same as NBA|
|Center circle diameter||12 ft||3.66 m||11.81 ft||3.6 m||Same as NBA|
|3-point line distance from the basket||23.75 ft
22 ft in corner[b]
6.70 m in corner[b]
21.65 ft in corner[c]
6.60 m in corner[c]
|Main arc same as FIBA
Corners same as NBA
|Same as FIBA[d]|
|Key (shaded lane or
restricted area) width
|16 ft||4.88 m||16.08 ft||4.9 m||Same as NBA||12 ft||3.66 m|
|Free-throw line distance from point on the floor directly below the backboard||15 ft||4.57 m||15.09 ft||4.6 m||Same as NBA|
- NCAA Division I men's play used these dimensions in the 2019–20 season, with Divisions II and III adopting them for the 2020–21 season. Women's play in all divisions will adopt this distance in 2021–22.
- The NBA three-point line is 3 ft (0.91 m) from the sideline in a zone starting at the baseline and ending when it crosses the 23.75 feet (7.24 m) arc. The 22 feet (6.71 m) distance exists only at the points on the three-point line that are directly to the left and right of the basket center.
- The FIBA three-point line is 2.95 feet (0.90 m) from the sideline in a zone starting at the baseline and ending when it crosses the 22.1 feet (6.7 m) arc. The 21.65 feet (6.60 m) distance exists only at the points on the three-point line that are directly to the left and right of the basket center.
- The NCAA three-point line is the same distance from the center of the basket as the FIBA line, but is 3.33 feet (1.01 m) from the sideline in the corners because the NCAA court is wider.
The only two players permitted to enter this area prior to the tipoff are the players contesting the jump ball (usually but not always centers). Both players jump when the referee throws the ball in the air, each attempting to tap the ball into the hands of a player of their own team.
The three-point line is the line that separates the two-point area from the three-point area; any shot made beyond this line counts as three points. If the shooting player steps on the line, it is counted as two points. Any foul made in the act of shooting beyond the three-point line would give the player three free throws if the shot does not go in, and one if it does.
The distance to the three-point line from the center of the basket varies depending on the level or league, and has changed several times. These are the current distances, with the league or level using each distance:
- 19.75 ft (6.02 m): High schools (US)
- 21.65 ft (6.60 m) to 22.15 ft (6.75 m): FIBA and NCAA
- 22 ft (6.71 m) to 22.15 ft (6.75 m): WNBA
- 22 ft (6.71 m) to 23.75 ft (7.24 m): NBA
The NBA adopted the three-point line at the start of the 1979–80 season. This is of variable distance, ranging from 22 feet (6.7 m) in the corners to 23.75 feet (7.24 m) behind the top of the key. During the 1994–95, 1995–96 and 1996–97 seasons, the NBA attempted to address decreased scoring by shortening the overall distance of the line to a uniform 22 feet (6.7 m) around the basket. It was moved back to its original distance after the 1996–97 season. FIBA and the NCAA both adopted the three-point line in 1985.
In most high school associations in the United States, the distance is 19.75 feet. This was formerly the distance for college basketball as well. On May 26, 2007, the NCAA playing rules committee agreed to move the three-point line back one foot to 20.75 feet for the men. This rule went into effect for the 2008–2009 season. The three-point line for women (NCAA) moved back one foot to 20.75 feet at the start of the 2011–12 season. During the 2019 offseason, the NCAA men's playing rules committee adopted the FIBA arc in a two-phase implementation, with Division I adopting the new arc in 2019–20 and other NCAA divisions doing so in 2020–21. The NCAA women's arc was moved to the FIBA arc starting in 2021–22.
The international distance, used in most countries outside the United States, as well as in FIBA and NCAA competition, is currently 6.6 m (21.65 ft) to 6.75 m (22.15 ft). The WNBA uses FIBA's arc except in the corner area, where the minimum distance is the NBA standard of 22 ft (6.71 m).
The perimeter is defined as the areas outside the free throw lane and inside the three-point line. Shots converted (successfully made) from this area are called "perimeter shots" or "outside shots" as called during older NBA games. If a player's foot is on the three-point line, the shot is considered a perimeter shot.
Low post area
The low post is defined as the areas that are closest to the basket but outside of the free throw lane. This area is fundamental to strategy in basketball. Skilled low post players can score many points per game without ever taking a jump shot.
The key, free throw lane or shaded lane refers to the usually painted area beneath the basket; for the NBA, it is 16.02 feet (wider for FIBA tournaments). Since October 2010, the key has been a rectangle 4.9 m wide and 5.8 m long. Previously, it was a trapezoid 3.7 meters (12 ft) wide at the free-throw line and 6 meters (19 feet and 6.25 inches) at the end line.
The key is primarily used to prevent players from staying beneath the basket of the opponents' team for long periods (maximum three seconds).
The no charge zone arc is a semi-circular arc drawn around the area directly underneath the basket. With some exceptions, members of the defending team cannot draw charging fouls in this area. The no charge zone arc in all North American rule sets above high school level (NCAA men's and women's, NBA, and WNBA) has a radius 4 feet (1.22 m) from below the center of the basket. The no charge zone arc rule first appeared at any level of basketball in the NBA in the 1997–98 season. The NCAA restricted area arc was originally established for the 2011–12 men's and women's seasons at a 3-foot (0.91 m) radius from below the center of the basket, and was extended to match the 4-foot radius for the 2015–16 season and beyond.
On NBA floors, two hash marks are drawn at the end lines near the key to mark the area known as the lower defensive box. A defensive player is allowed to draw a charging foul within the restricted arc if the offensive player receives the ball and/or starts his drive within this area.
Also, two lines are drawn on each of the sidelines, 28 feet from each of the endlines, which designates the extent of the coaching box and bench. This line marks the farthest extent a coach (aside from the sidelines) can stand. Directly behind this area is the team bench.
On the half-court line of NBA floors two lines extend outside the playing court, designating the place where substitutes wait before they can enter the playing court; directly behind this area are the various off-court officials such as the timekeeper and reserve referee.
On April 26, 2008, FIBA announced several major rules changes involving the court markings. These changes took effect for major international competitions on October 1, 2010, after that year's World Championships for men and women, and became mandatory for other competitions on October 1, 2012 (although national federations could adopt the new markings before 2012). The changes were as follows.
- The shape of the key changed from a trapezoid to a rectangle as it is in the NBA, with NBA dimensions.
- The three-point line moved back to 6.75 meters (22 ft 1.7 in) from 6.25 meters (20 ft 6.1 in), compared to 23 ft 9 in (7.24 m) for the NBA at the top of the arc.
- The FIBA adopted the NBA's restricted area arc with a marginally wider radius of 1.25 meters (4 ft 1.2 in).
- "Official Basketball Rules 2006" (pdf). International Basketball Federation. 2006. Archived from the original on April 6, 2007. Retrieved April 14, 2007.
- Wissel, Hal (1994). Basketball: steps to success. United States: Human Kinetics Publishers, Inc. pp. ix. ISBN 0-7360-5500-2.
- "NCAA Men's and Women's Basketball Court" (PDF). NCAA. June 17, 2019. Retrieved October 9, 2019.
- "International 3-point line distance approved in women's basketball" (Press release). NCAA. June 3, 2021. Retrieved August 24, 2021.
- Basketball Glossary Terms, Definition, Lane violation, Low post Archived November 19, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
- "Shaq and the No Charge Zone Rule". Factuation. Factuation. July 1, 2015. Retrieved February 27, 2018.
In the 1997-1998 season, NBA added the "no charge zone" or the "restricted area". This is the portion of the key, denoted by an arc in the painted area that is positioned four feet from the basket. The arc is important because a defending player can not force a charging foul within this area. It was designed to provide benefit offensive post-up player like [Shaquille] O'Neal, players who drive to the basket and limit collisions.
- "The FIBA Central Board approves historic rule changes" (Press release). FIBA. April 26, 2008. Archived from the original on April 30, 2008. Retrieved April 28, 2008.
- Free Basketball Court Layout Template
- FIBA Central Board (April 17, 2010). "Official Basketball Rules 2010: Basketball Equipment" (pdf). International Basketball Federation. Retrieved July 15, 2010.