freeareabasics.gifCourt Areas

Court Areas

Each area of the court has its own name. It is very important to use the proper terminology when describing these areas.

The court areas of a typical basketball court include:

Three Second Area
Three Second Area

This is the area below the free throw line and between the lane lines. It is sometimes called the "Paint" since, in most gyms, it is painted. If any offensive player remains in this area for more than three seconds it is a violation and the other team gets the ball. Note: Some professional leagues, like the NBA,  also limit the defensive players to three seconds in this area as well.


Block
Block

The block is a buffer area painted on the lane lines separating offensive and defensive players during a free throw attempt. Additionally, it is a very strategic area during the game. Any player - offensive or defensive - establishing a position on the block gains a definite advantage.


Elbow
Elbow

The elbow is the area of the court where the free throw line meets the lane line. Like the "Block", the Elbows become important on dribble penetration. Any player - offense or defense - who gets to the elbow first will gain an advantage.


Free Throw Extend
Free Throw Line Extended

This imaginary line represents the extension of the free throw line across the width of the court. Most coaches use it to establish defensive rules. When the ball is above the free throw line extended a certain rule applies. When the ball is below it another rule applies. It is also used as a reference for offensive player alignment.


Top
Top Of Circle (Key)

The top of circle is the area straight out from the basket just outside the free throw circle. It is use primarily as a reference for aligning offensive and defensive players. It is also a favorite spot from which many players like to shoot. 


Wing
Wing

The wing area is located on the side of the court near the free throw line extended. Wing areas are designated "Ballside" or Weakside" according to the location of the player with the ball. The wing on the same side as the ball handler is the "Ballside or Strongside" wing. The wing on the side away from the ball handler is the "Weakside"  wing. 


Corner
Corner

The "Corner" is primarily used to designate the area where the sideline and baseline meet. This is another favorite area from which players like to shoot. It is usually an open area when zone defense is played. However, it is also an area where the defense can readily trap an offensive player with the ball. 


Short Corner
Short Corner

The short corner is an area along the baseline half way between the sideline and the lane line. It is a strategic offensive area especially used against zone defenses.


Restricted
4' Restricted Area (Pro)

In professional basketball there is a semi-circular 4' restraining area in front of the basket. No offensive charges can be taken by defenders when they are positioned on or inside this area.


frontbackcourt1.gif    frontbackcourt2.gif
Front Court
The term Front Court is used to denote the offensive end of the court from the midcourt line to the baseline. 
Back Court
Back Court is used to denote the area behind the mid court line. It includes the half of the court from the midcourt line back to the endline. Once the ball is advanced across the midcourt line into the front court, it cannot go back into the Back Court.


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Court Dimensions
High School
College
International
NBA
WNBA
Court Length
85'
94'
28m

(91'10")

94'
94'
Court Width
50'
50'
15m

(49'2.5")

50'
50'
Lane Width
12'
12'
4.9m

(16')

16'
12'
Three Point Line
19'9"
19'9"
6.25m

(20'6.1")

23'9"
19'9"
Period Time (Number of Periods)
8min (4)
20min (2)
10min (4)
12min (4)
10min (4)
Shot Clock
30 seconds (Girls)
35 seconds Men

30 seconds Women

24 seconds
24 seconds
30 seconds

With a clear understanding of the various lines, markings and areas of the court, next learn how to read and interpret play diagrams.

Click here to learn about player positions
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