Basketball Mathematics


Mathematics is a significant part of the game. Statistics, percentages, time/distance increments and the geometry of the game all make basketball easier to understand and to play. Basketball math can make points with a clarity easily comprehended.

On Offense without Ball & Defense

Perhaps the best example is using math to illustrate the importance of moving without the ball and playing defense.

There are 32 minutes in a youth game.

If you play all 32 minutes, how much time do you spend playing offense? Playing defense?

The answer is half on each.

If you are not the point guard, how much time do you actually spend having the ball in your hands? 1 to 2 minutes.

What are you doing the rest of the time?

This is where boys get blank looks on their faces! Moving without the ball. Cutting, screening, and getting in position to rebound a shot.

Now, how many of the 16 minutes spent on the defense are you actually playing defense?

Rarely does anyone fail to realize that you must play defense the entire time your team does not have possession of the ball. Which means you cannot rest on defense.

The point regarding the importance of defense is solidified.

Statistics & Percentages

The individual scoring statistic is the most detrimental basketball statistic in basketball. The stats you should pay most attention to:

  • Opposing team field goal percentage.
  • Assist/Turnover ratio.
  • Your field goal percentage.
  • Rebounds- Opposing and yours. Offensive/Defensive
  • Free Throw percentage.

Time & Distance Increments

A large part of basketball is based on time and distance. How long can you stay in the key, how long can you dribble the ball while being closely guarded, and how much time can you have the ball in the backcourt, etc…

Distance is more about the geography of the game- Spacing. Because small distance can make such a big difference, it is important to know the distance from the basket to the free throw line, the 3 point line, to half court. Or how wide is the key or the court.

Know the score, the time and the situation. In many instances the time and situation have something to do with one another.


Basketball is a game of angles. Passing angles, dribbling angles, screening angles, cutting angles, and defensive angles. Utilizing incorrect angles in these areas can result in costly mistakes.

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