Young basketball players need to know their lines — their court lines
| 9 min read
A big part of coaching is simply teaching kids the language of the game. And even before you’re talking about triple-threat position or a pick and roll, you need to make sure everyone on the basketball court is on the same page about basic terminology — quite literally, the names of the lines you’re all standing on.
Court sizes differ slightly, but certain lines are more or less universal. Here’s a quick guide to basketball court lines.
The sidelines are pretty obvious — the two lines running down the length of the court, that define the width of the playing area. Typically, for kids playing on a full-size court, starting around age 9, the sidelines are about 50 feet apart — but again, that depends.
The sidelines are a coach’s friend during practice. When lines are unavoidable, use the sidelines to help corral players waiting for their turn.
At the end of the two sidelines are the baselines, which, on a typical court, sit 4 feet behind the basket.
This baseline is a useful place to start and stop drills.
Technically, it’s called an endline for the team on defense, and a baseline for the team on offense, but no need to get complicated—especially if you’re coaching 6-year-olds.
(A.k.a. The mid court line). The half-court line defines the center of the playing area, between the front and back court. In youth basketball, there may or may not be a backcourt timeline — a set amount of time, usually 8 or 10 seconds, for a team to move the ball out of the backcourt and across the half-court line.
Typically, the 3-point line defines the area between 2-point shots and 3-point field goals. But 3-point shots aren’t usually part of the game for kids 12 and under.
For younger players who aren’t there yet, the 3-point line is still useful to define a specific playing area and during games and activities.
The standard free-throw line is 15 feet away from the basket, on most courts. In youth basketball, however, the distances should be age-appropriate — 14 feet away from the basket for kids ages 7 to 12 .
There are two free throw circles on the court, one on either side, centered on the free throw line.
Like the center circle (see #8), free throw circles are where jump balls take place — but only if the players are old enough. The free throw circle also defines the area for the shooter during a free-throw attempt.
The free throw circle, together with the paint — the area between the lane lines and the baseline — form “the key.”
The lane lines run from the free throw line to the baseline. The lane lines can have hash marks to indicate where players stand during a free throw attempt.
The center circle is a 12-foot wide circle located at center court, and it’s where jump balls take place. But there are no jump balls in youth basketball until about age 12.