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Basketball Rules for Young Children

By Emily Weller ; Updated September 26, 2017
Children can play basketball on their own or on a team.

Playing basketball from a young age helps children learn to play well with others and gives them the opportunity to be competitive in a relatively safe and friendly environment. The rules of the game are a bit different for young children than they are for teenagers or adults. The International Basketball Federation has created rules specifically for younger players. The rules of the game can also vary based on the league or organization that sponsors the basketball team.

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Handling the Ball

When a player has the ball, he has to dribble it while running down the court. Dribbling means he bounces the ball against the floor, using just one hand. Players can't use two hands to dribble. They also cannot catch the ball with both hands, then start dribbling again -- that's called "double dribbling." If a player puts his hand under the ball, it's a violation and his team loses the ball. A player can't kick or punch the ball, either.

Earning Points

The goal of basketball is to earn points by throwing the ball through the hoop and net on the opponent's side. If a player throws the ball through the hoop and net during play, it is worth two points. If the shot is made from the free throw line, because of a foul, the player scores one point. While older children and professional basketball games give players the opportunity to earn three points if the ball is thrown from a certain point on the court, the three-point line doesn't exist in some versions of youth basketball.


Basketball teams typically consist of 10 players. Five players get to be on the court at one time. When a person isn't playing, he is a substitute. During a game, each person on the team can have the opportunity to play for two of the four quarters, or for a total of 20 minutes. Three positions are on the court: center, forwards and guards. Usually, taller children play the center position while shorter kids play the guards.


Basketball is a relatively contact-free sport. When a player breaks the rules of contact, he commits a foul. For example, a player can't grab the opponent when the opponent is trying to shoot the ball. If a player is trying to shoot the ball, and the opponent commits a foul, the player with the ball gets two free throws. If the player isn't trying to shoot the ball when the foul occurs, the ball is given to his team by a throw-in.

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About the Author

Based in Pennsylvania, Emily Weller has been writing professionally since 2007, when she began writing theater reviews Off-Off Broadway productions. Since then, she has written for TheNest, ModernMom and Rhode Island Home and Design magazine, among others. Weller attended CUNY/Brooklyn college and Temple University.

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