Teach your child the basics of basketball.

Simple Basketball Rules for Kids

by Laura Roberts

Basketball presents a myriad of rules for young minds to remember, but it all began with a simple 13 points back in 1892. Return to the basics, teaching a foundation of basketball understanding that can be built upon as your child matures. Someday, his PE coach may drill him in the seemingly infinite possibilities to foul, but for now, instruct him in the simple joy of the game with a few manageable parameters.

Object and Playing Area

You can’t have a game without players! Teach your preschooler that a real game of basketball requires two teams with five players each to play in a large rectangular area, called the court. Each team defends its half of the court, which is divided by the center line, while trying to make baskets on the opponents’ side. Tell your little one that it is his team’s job to protect his basket and get the basketball into the hoop on the other side. Both teams have to stay inside the rectangular court the whole time.

Offense and Defense

Each team has two jobs assigned to its players: offense and defense. When that team has possession of the ball, each teammate follows his offensive job of penetrating the other team’s side of the court and shooting the basketball into their hoop. The team members work together to pass the ball back and forth, setting one person up for the ideal shot at the basket. If the other team steals the ball, the defense works to block the other team from scoring. Each team member assigns himself to block one person on the opposing team.

Dribbling and Shooting

Your little one may get a kick (pun intended) out of holding or punching the ball, but teach him how to bounce it with one hand. Once he gets the hang of dribbling in place, teach him how to move while dribbling. Remind him that he can’t just carry the ball down the court; if he is moving, he has to keep dribbling. Once a player stops, he can only pivot on one foot and pass to a teammate or shoot a basket.


Explain fouls in the simplest way to your mini aspiring sports star: The team defending its own basket has to be careful not to touch the offensive team in a way that makes them lose control of the basketball while making a shot. This might include actions like slapping, hitting or kicking. If that happens, the opposing team gets a free chance to score points from the center line.

About the Author

As a literature and grammar teacher, Laura Roberts began editing in 2002, gradually expanding her nonfiction writing to include new curriculum units. In 2008, Roberts began publishing her “Ask the Savvy Bride” column connected with her e-commerce wedding store. She holds a bachelor's in English education from Robert Morris University.

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