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Prepare to dribble. Ever had the urge to take part in an all-American sport and try your hand at a slam dunk? You might not make it to the NBA, but basketball is still a good choice for a fun, energising team game. Played widely around the world, basketball involves five players attempting to score points by throwing a ball through a hoop ten feet off the ground. No wonder the professionals are so tall...

How does it work?

Forget taking it easy – basketball is all about staying on the go. Players can move around the court with the basketball by dribbling - bouncing the ball up and down with one hand while moving. Three points are received if a team gets the ball in the hoop behind a certain line, and two points closer to the hoop beyond that line. As there are ten people on a court at once, agility is important. As you wind your way around opponents towards the hoop, every muscle is engaged, improving stamina and strengthening heart and lungs.

A great team sport, playing a game of basketball really requires the players to work together in order to score and prevent the opposition from dunking the ball in their net. There are strict rules in the professional leagues regarding travelling with the ball and contact with other players. When a foul occurs, the opposite team gets a free shot at the hoop without members of the opposition in the way.

The length of a basketball game is around 48 minutes - professional American league the NBA has games composed of four 12 minute quarters. There may be an extra few minutes if the game has not been decided at the end of the four quarters. Combined with various ‘time-outs’, the actual game lasts longer than an hour – so you’ll have to be nice and fit to be in it to win it.

Is it for me?

Playing basketball is a fun and sociable workout - you play closely with other people and communication is essential in order for teams to succeed. If you want a workout that has some variety and needs a bit of brain engagement as well as body, then basketball may be an attractive choice. It isn’t a relaxing sport - there is a lot of jumping involved - so would not be suitable for people with joint or muscle problems.

Good to know

There are many variations of the traditional basketball game - these include wheelchair basketball, water basketball, Streetball and Slamball (basketball with trampolines).

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