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A Brief History of Basketball (Just in Time for the

Final Four)

Born in the Ontario village of Almonte in 1861, James Naismith was a hardworking athlete
who excelled at many sports, and who chafed when the long Canadian winter kept him
from playing outdoors, resulting in added pounds and lost strength.
Naismith moved to Massachusetts, where he taught physical education at a small Christian
college. The winter weather of New England was no better than that of Ontario, but the
school had an assembly hall with moveable benches and a hardwood floor. Naismith
concocted a game suited to the rooms high ceiling and rectangular plan, a game that
combined elements of soccer, football,hockey, and baseball and that emphasized
teamwork and friendly, nonviolent competition. Naismiths invention made use of a
regulation soccer ball that, instead of being kicked, was bounced or passed by hand from
one end of the room to the other and launched into a peach basket hung at either end
which gave the new game its name, basketball.

First played with nine members on each team, Naismiths game quickly spread throughout
New England, and then elsewhere in the United States. By 1896 enough colleges had
formed teams that the first extramural competition was held, but now with only five
players to a team.
Two years later, the first professional basketball league was organized. In the next few
years, with Naismiths approval, new rules were devised to insure that the game would be
played in a friendly spirit. Most important of the new rules were those defining fouls and
the penalties for them, most of which allowed the fouled player to take possession of the
ball and sometimes to throw it without opposition. Other rules helped speed the game by
pitting play against a clock, and not by an accumulation of points, which could and often
did take hours to achieve. The game evolved over the decades, with the addition of yet
other rules over the years, including one that allowed players to shoot with one handan
innovation that gave rise to the spectacular balletic moves of players like Lew Alcindor
(later Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) and Wilt Chamberlain in the 1960s and 70s.
Important technical innovations to the game came early on. One was the addition of nets
to the baskets, which allowed the ball to fall through and be retrieved on the court; earlier,
a referee or player had to climb a ladder to pluck the ball from the wooden baskets of old.
Another was the addition of a backboard to the basketan innovation meant not for the
shooters convenience, but instead to keep fans of the defending team from sticking their
arms into the basket and blocking the opposing teams shot.
Basketball traveled to France and England in 1893, to Germany in 1894, and to Japan in
1900. It became an official Olympic event at the 1936 Berlin Games, which hastened its
spread to many other countries. Throughout the Cold War, international basketball courts
took the place of battlefields, with the United States and the Soviet Union competing neck-
and-neck for domination of the game. The collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s
did not remove politics from basketball. In the place of the old superpower competition
came rivalries among teams from the former republics of Yugoslavia, for instance, and
between players from the Peoples Republic of China and Taiwan.
Other countries have developed strong teams in recent years, and sometimes in the
unlikeliest of places. In recent years, the tiny Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, for instance,
has fielded three dozen amateur teams, while the principality of Andorra, with only 86,500
inhabitants, sponsored nine amateur teams while establishing the sport as part of the
countrys physical education curriculum. Even the Himalayan nation of Nepal now boasts a
professional team.
But nowhere is basketball more popular than in the United States, the games birthplace
122 years ago. Once restricted to the long northerly winter, basketballs calendar has
grown to embrace every seasonand now that March madness has wound down and
spring has begun, the NCAAFinal Four competition is upon us, as it is sure to be every
April for years to come.

The Five Basic Skills of Basketball
Basketball is a fast-paced game that requires the knowledge and instinct to perform quickly and properly. The
sport of basketball requires five basic skills. While some players might be more experienced with some skills
than others, it is best to have at least some ability in all five areas.
Dribbling is an important skill for all basketball players. This skill will allow you to move up and down the court,
maneuver past defenders and execute plays. Proper dribbling requires ball-handling skills and knowledge of how to
spread your fingers for ball control. It is also best if you know how to dribble equally well with both hands.
In order to score points in basketball, you need to shoot the ball into the hoop. This requires the ability to properly
hold and throw the ball into the air toward the basket while avoiding defenders. A proper shot requires precise
aiming, arm extension and lift from the legs. There are different types of shots you need to learn, including jump
shots, layups and free throws.
Running is a big part of basketball. In a full-court game, you will find yourself running back and forth as the game
quickly transitions between offense and defense. When you have the ball, running will help you to avoid defenders
and get to the basket quicker. On defense, you often will find yourself needing to run after the opponent, especially
during fast breaks.
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Passing is another skill that when mastered can help you become a complete basketball player. Basketball is a team
sport that involves finding a teammate who is open for a shot. The ability to pass the ball to this player can make the
difference between scoring and not scoring. Really great passers are an important part of a basketball team and
usually the ones who set up scoring plays.
Jumping is another skill that can define how good a basketball player is. Jumping is involved in offense during the
jump ball in the beginning, while taking shots and sometimes while trying to catch a pass. On defensive you will
need the ability to jump when trying to block a shot or a pass. Being able to out jump your opponent for a rebound
also is important.
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8 Basketball Power Dribbling Drills

Most children first learn to crawl, then walk, and finally to run. Basketball requires players to not only
effectively move their feet, but also to maneuver a basketball. Basketball players first learn to dribble the
basketball with one hand, then to alternate hands, and progressively to increase to more advanced
dribbling. As a basketball player, a powerful and effective way to keep defenders on their toes and
increase your threat as an offensive player is to develop an agile and quick dribbling technique. The
power dribble can do this.

A basic power dribble is when you dribble the ball at a very intense rate. Maintain your normal form and
posture. Use your muscles to thrust the ball forcefully down, and then expect the ball to quickly bounce
back to your hand.

The drills described below will help you gain confidence and agility to handle a basketball in a power
dribble. This will help you run a fast break, cut through the defensive, and outmaneuver your opponents.

1. Power Crossovers - Power dribble in your right hand, and then quickly bounce the ball to your left
hand. Power dribble with your left hand for a few seconds before bouncing the ball back to your right

2. Dribble Blindfolded - Wrap a cloth around your head as a blindfold, or you could simply close your peeking. Power dribble a ball for at least 60 seconds. This drill helps you enhance your tactile
sense of the ball. You can enhance the drill by performing it in the center of a deserted basketball court,
walking around while dribbling. To make the drill even more challenging, try power dribbling two balls, one
in each hand, while being blindfolded and slowly walking around a deserted basketball court.

3. 10-5 Repeats - This drill exercises power dribbling with one hand at a time. Choose which hand your
would like to practice. Power dribble for 10 seconds, then soft dribble for 5 seconds. Repeat multiple
times. This exercise teaches your arm muscles how to alternate between various dribbling speeds that
occur during game play.

4. Dribble Between Legs While Walking - In order to do this drill you will need a segment of floor, such
as a basketball court floor, a street's sidewalk, or a wide hallway that is deserted. Power dribble while
walking up and down the walkway. Power dribble the ball between your legs to practice fancy dribbling
skills. To enhance the drill, perform the drill at a quicker walking pace, maybe at a light jogging pace.
5. Double Ball Power Dribbling - Power dribble two balls, one in each hand. This will increase your arm
strength for dribbling and enhance your dribbling control. Since you can't look at both hands at the same
time, this drill will also practice your ability to power dribble without looking at the ball.

6. Power Dribbling Sprints - This drill requires you to power dribble for an extended period of time and
run back and forth on the basketball court. Stand at one end of a basketball court. Dribble to the nearest
foul line, and then return to the baseline. Dribble to the middle of the court, and then return to the baseline
from which you started. Dribble to the farthest foul line, and then return to the baseline from which you
started. Finally, dribble the entire length of the court, and return to the baseline from which you started.
This entire continuous power dribbling exercise counts as one complete cycle of the drill. Repeat multiple
times to practice your dribbling, speed, and direction-changing abilities.

7. 3-Chair Dribbling - Set up 3 chairs or cones in a line, spacing each chair/cone 10 feet apart. Power
dribble around the chairs/cones in different shapes, such as figure-eights, circles, or any shape. Use your

8. Dirt dribbling - This drill actually requires you to leave the basketball court and find a patch of dirt. Do
a Power dribble on the dirt for 1 or 2 minutes. You will need to power dribble the ball even harder than
usual in order to get the ball to bounce on the dirt. This drill is an extremely good arm workout with power

Start with just a few of these exercises, and then expand your workouts to include more drills. You can
also modify the drills to be more challenging by increasing the number of repetitions or slightly modifying
the drill. The key is to vary your routines and have fun with them. By practicing the power dribble, you will
greatly improve your dribbling.