You will read about the sport of basketball. The lesson includes a reading, a comprehension check, a vocabulary review, and discussion questions. It also includes a research task about basketball drills.

Pre-Reading Questions

  1. What physical qualities do professional basketball players typically have?
  2. What does the NBA stand for?
  3. What is a foul?
  4. Do you enjoy watching basketball?
  5. Is basketball a popular sport in your country?

Vocabulary Preview

  • gymnasium: a large indoor area in a school for students to play, exercise, and perform
  • hoop: the ring that basketball players throw the ball into
  • elevated: raised up high
  • deflect: to cause something to change direction
  • rebound: a ball that bounces back after a missed shot
  • key: a painted area underneath the basketball hoop, includes the free throw line
  • interchangeable: can easily be put/used in a different position
  • violation: something that is not allowed according to a rule or law
  • traveling: holding the ball and moving without dribbling
  • dribble: to bounce a basketball with one hand

Practice these new words here: Vocabulary: Basketball


  1. The game of basketball was invented in 1891 by a physical education teacher. James Naismith was looking for a way to keep his students active indoors in the winter months. The object of his game was for players to score points by getting a soccer ball inside a peach basket. Two baskets were nailed up high on opposite ends of a gymnasium. No dribbling was allowed. Players had to pass the ball to their teammates in order to get it close enough for a shot.
  2. Basketball hoops with metal rims and backboards were introduced to Naismith’s sport by 1906. Dribbling also became part of the game. Today, hoops are elevated about ten feet from the ground with a backboard and a net. The dividing line between the hoops is called mid-court. Offensive players dribble and pass the ball down the court, and attempt to put the ball in their opponents’ basket. Defensive players try to block shots, deflect passes, and grab rebounds. Baskets are worth one, two, or three points depending on where they are shot from. The free throw line for foul shots is at the top of a rectangular painted area called the key.
  3. A basketball game is played in two halves. These halves may be 20 minutes or less with a short break of several minutes at halftime. The halves are also divided into quarters. At halftime, the teams switch sides and defend the basket on the other side of the court. All defensive players work together to defend the team’s hoop.
  4. There are five players with three positions on a basketball team. Most positions are interchangeable. The main positions are center, point guard, shooting guard, small forward, and power forward. The center is often the tallest player. The shooting guard makes long shots. The team leader, the person who calls the plays, is the point guard. Several players sit on the bench for substitution.
  5. When rules are broken in basketball, players are punished with a foul. An example of a personal foul is when a player hits, pushes, or holds an opponent. If this type of action prevents a basket, the other team gets a free throw. Other violations include traveling (moving the ball forward without dribbling), double dribbling, and not passing. In basketball, players can’t hold the ball for as long as they want. There is a timer, called a shot clock, to keep the game moving.
  6. The NBA is North America’s professional basketball league for men. It was founded in 1946 in New York City. The WNBA is the women’s league. Other countries, including China, Russia, South Korea, and Iran, have professional basketball leagues, too.

Post Reading Questions

  1. Professional basketball players are some of the highest paid athletes in the world. Why do you think this is?
  2. A basketball movie called “White Men Can’t Jump” explored a stereotype in the sport of basketball. What do you think of the title of the film? What other stereotypes are there in professional sports?
  3. What special skills are required to be a professional basketball player?

Research Assignment - Basketball Drills

You Be The Coach

To practice the game of basketball, players perform different types of drills. Do a little research to find three drills that basketball coaches use with their players.

Contribute to this tackk by adding comments, photos, gifs, or video of the things you find while completing this research assignment.

Additional Resources