basketball first played

Basketball: How It Was First Played When It Started

Basketball was first played in 1891. It has come a long way since then. With rules changing and basketballs being updated to be more consistent for players. But before basketball became the game we know today. It had some very strange rules that were put in place at the start of basketball’s history. For example, there was no dribbling allowed when basketball first started!

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When Was Basketball First Played?

Basketball Courts

The very first basketball court also had two peach baskets hanging ten feet above the ground at either end of the court. These are still present today on basketball rims and hoops. But they are now lowered seven feet from where they once stood.

There was little consistency back then too – some courts even featured soccer goals instead of basketball hoops! And if that wasn’t bad enough for players yet, there weren’t any free throws or shots awarded for fouls committed. Instead, one point would be given if someone scored a goal from a set distance.

basketball first played

The Basketball Itself!

In basketball’s early days, basketball was also much different from how it is today. The basketball ball then had more bounce and made dribbling harder for players. Making them have to pass the basketball around rather than carry it in their hands. This turned out to be quite beneficial when passing later became a rule of basketball. But back in 1891, this ruffled some feathers!

basketball first played

How Was Basketball Originally Played?

When Basketball was first played, it was not only different from how we play it today. But some unusual elements may seem strange to us now such as:

  • Players had 15 seconds or less to shoot if they didn’t pass
  • No dribbling was allowed when going after a loose ball
  • Soccer goals used instead of basketball hoops

When basketball began over 120 years ago it was nothing like the basketball we play today. Some strange rules have since been removed, but there are still a few leftovers in how basketball is played today.

For example, if you score with someone else’s ball on your team – one point will be awarded to you! This is because back when basketball began players couldn’t pick up or hold onto balls after they had scored points themselves. Nowadays this rule has changed and only applies to loose balls at any time during the game. Rather than just scoring points with it yourself.

As previously mentioned, these early basketball games would seem completely crazy to us now. Due to the lack of consistency in court size and hoops height across different venues for playing basketball at that time. Now basketball courts are always the same size. And basketball hoops have been lowered to a standard height. From where they once stood at ten feet off the ground!

The First-Ever Teams

The first basketball teams in history were made of 18 students. All attending at the YMCA training school, in Springfield, Massachusetts.

The following are how the teams were split:

Team 1: John J. Thompson, Eugene S. Libby, T. Duncan Patton, Frank Mahan, Finlay G. MacDonald, William H. Davis, Lyman Archibald, Edwin P. Ruggles, and William R. Chase.

Team 2: George Weller, Wilbert Carey, Ernest Hildner, Raymond Kaighn, Genzabaro Ishikawa, Benjamin S. French, Franklin Barnes, George Day, and Henry Gelan.

The final score of the game ended 1 – 0, with Team 1 earning the win.

William R. Chase scored the only point of the game. Becoming the first person to score a “basket” during a game in basketball history!

The Original 13 Rules of Basketball

The rules were created by James Naismith. He came up with the original basketball game as a way to entertain people during the cold winter months in Springfield, Massachusetts. The following are the first set of rules:

  1. The ball may be thrown in any direction with one or both hands.
  2. The ball may be batted in any direction with one or both hands, but never with the fist.
  3. A player cannot run with the ball. The player must throw it from the spot on which he catches it, allowance to be made for a man running at a good speed.
  4. The ball must be held by the hands. The arms or body must not be used for holding it.
  5. No shouldering, holding, pushing, striking, or tripping in any way of an opponent. The first infringement of this rule by any person shall count as a foul; the second shall disqualify him until the next goal is made or, if there was evident intent to injure the person, for the whole of the game. No substitution shall be allowed.
  6. A foul is striking at the ball with the fist, violations of Rules 3 and 4, and such as described in Rule 5.
  7. If either side makes three consecutive fouls it shall count as a goal for the opponents (consecutive means without the opponents in the meantime making a foul).
  8. A goal shall be made when the ball is thrown or batted from the grounds into the basket and stays there, providing those defending the goal do not touch or disturb the goal. If the ball rests on the edges, and the opponent moves the basket, it shall count as a goal.
  9. When the ball goes out of bounds, it shall be thrown into the field and played by the first person touching it. In case of dispute, the umpire shall throw it straight into the field. The thrower-in is allowed five seconds. If he holds it longer, it shall go to the opponent. If any side persists in delaying the game, the umpire shall call a foul on them.
  10. The umpire shall be the judge of the men and shall note the fouls and notify the referee when three consecutive fouls have been made. He shall have the power to disqualify men according to Rule 5.
  11. The referee shall be the judge of the ball and shall decide when the ball is in play, in bounds, to which side it belongs, and shall keep the time. He shall decide when a goal has been made and keep account of the goals, with any other duties that are usually performed by a referee.
  12. The time shall be two fifteen-minute halves, with five minutes rest between.
  13. The side making the most goals in that time shall be declared the winner.
basketball first played


All these small changes make for large differences between old school and modern-day basketball. But one thing remains the same: whether you play on an indoor or outdoor court, with friends or alone; basketball will always remain enjoyable!

We hope you enjoyed reading our blog post about basketball, and we hope it was informative! Got any other info/details on other early basketball rules and occurrences? Let us know! We discuss this amazing sport in detailed manner, click here for more!

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Here’s our pick from the very best of the bunch.


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