How Has Basketball Changed Over Time? Its Origin And Development. Discover Now

Today, some sports are often either without a clear origin or a combination of two or more different disciplines. Particularly for basketball, how has basketball changed over time? The story behind it is extremely special. Its own father wrote a tale about the history and released it after his death.

How Has Basketball Changed Over Time

As it is known today, the game of basketball was created by Dr. James Naismith, a Canadian-American physical education instructor, in December 1891 in Springfield, Massachusetts.


Let’s go back in time to the nineteenth century when Dr. Naismith created a new sport and see how has basketball changed over time.

The Story

In winter 1891, YMCA (Young Men’s Christian Association) students could not attend outdoor sports due to the harsh cold winter. Therefore, the headmaster asked Dr. Naismith to create a new indoor sport. 

When looking for a way for students to remain active yet safe indoors, he based on existing ball games and the stoning game he used to play as a child to create basketball. Naismith called his new game basketball and wrote down 13 rules, which must be mentioned:

  • A player cannot run with the ball. The player must throw it from the spot on which he catches it, allowance to be made for a man who catches the ball when running at a good speed if he tries to stop.
  • No shouldering, holding, pushing, tripping, or striking in any way the person of an opponent shall be allowed; the first infringement of this rule by any player shall count as a foul, the second shall disqualify him until the next goal is made, or, if there was evident intent to injure the person, for the whole of the game, no substitute allowed.
  •  The time shall be two 15-minute halves, with five minutes’ rest between.

All the equipment at that time was just two fruit baskets and a soccer ball. 

Each team had nine players; Dr. Naismith would throw the ball into the air to start the match, and which team scored the most balls into the fruit basket would win.

That was the story of how Naismith discovered basketball on December 21, 1891, in Springfield, Massachusetts.

How Has Basketball Changed Over Time 1


This new sport quickly gained popularity throughout the region. Dr. Naismith’s students go on to become teachers and coaches, spreading the game national-wide. Basketball teams appear more and more in high schools and colleges.

Many fans flocked to watch this exciting sport. Soon, professional leagues have become an inseparable part of the sports industry in every corner of the world.

Following are memorable milestones for every basketball enthusiast:

  • In 1936, basketball became an Olympic sport.
  • By 1938 and 1939, the National Invitation Tournament (NIT) and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) were founded. 
  • In 1937 and 1946, the National Basketball League (NBL) and Basketball Association of America (BAA) were also formed. 
  • Then in 1949, the NBL and several BAA teams merged to form the NBA National Basketball Association.

How Has Basketball Changed Over Time

Play Of The Game Then And Now

Similar to American football, colleges became important places to spread the word about basketball. With the long winter months in many parts of the US, people were over the moon to find more entertainment during this time.

It was the war and the rapidly changing economy that helped the sport spread more widely. In fact, the first international games were held as a result of World War I. 

Domestically, basketball continued to spread its recognition on college campuses into the 1920s and 1930s, even as professional tournaments were still undeveloped.

Although people have expanded the original 13 rules to over 100, the spirit and principles of the original rules are still in effect today. 

Significant rule changes over the years addressed the number of players, the court boundaries, dribbling, and eliminating the center jump after making baskets. The mid-1930’s inter-sectional competition led to a standardization of rules throughout the country.

NCAA 1978 Champions

Basketball Has Developed Over Times

Let’s take a look at the process of basketball becoming accomplished over the years.

The first phase of the development of basketball was from 1891 to 1918. It was the period that shaped a new sport. From being created to liven up gym classes, basketball has become a sport with all its hallmarks.

In 1894, after Naismith officially promulgated the basketball law  and there were competitions, players formed and developed the technique and tactics of basketball very quickly. There have appeared offensive tactics and defensive tactics, determining the position function of each player.

At the 3rd Olympics in 1904, basketball was held and performed.

The second phase occurred from 1919 to 1931, when it is typical that national basketball associations of different countries were established, and international friendly competitions started. 

In 1923 the first international basketball competitions were held in France between the teams of Italy, France, and Czechoslovakia.

The third phase began in early 1932, during which basketball was widely developed around the world. A memorable event in basketball history was the establishment of the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) on June 18, 1932.

The last phase from 1984-1965 was the period when techniques and tactics leaped. The FIBA ​​World Basketball Federation, with 50 member countries at that time, had an important position and had organized many world tournaments on a large scale.

Women playing basketball

The Evolution Of Style

After gaining much popularity in the US, basketball quickly spread worldwide and became an international sport. There are two popular forms of basketball:

Professional basketball: Competition between two teams, each with five people and two baskets (according to FIBA and NBA rules).

Street basketball: Each team has about three players and one basketball board.

Whatever the form of play, the goal of basketball is to score points by putting as many balls in the opponent’s basket as possible. They had limited time for the match, and in the end, the team with more points is the winner.


Like football, the basketball court has two parts for two teams, and a line in the middle divides the two parts of the field. Each section has a large arc around the basket column, also known as the 3-point line.

In the 3-point line is an isosceles trapezoid, used as a boundary for the players to throw a free throw, in addition to a free-throw circle where the free-throw player can align the throw position.


The initial rules of basketball laid out by Dr. Naismith are familiar enough that those who enjoy basketball today—over 100 years later—will recognize it as the same sport. These are some rules that still apply nowadays :

  • The ball may be thrown in any direction with one or both hands.
  • The ball may be batted in any direction with one or both hands (never with the fist).
  • The ball must be held in or between the hands; the arms or body must not be used for holding it.

Anyhow, people added current rules so you can see how the game has changed over time—and how it’s remained the same.

December 1891, Dr. James Naismith drafted the first rules for basketball and used them to organize games. In 1892, he published the “Book of Basketball Rules,” containing 15 articles, most of which, in one form or another, are still used today.

After being put into competition and gradually perfecting the rules, the world positively received basketball, quickly popularized throughout the United States, and recognized as a sport. 

In addition, basketball quickly became popular for practice and competition in many countries around the world. And since then, the NBA’s most prominent basketball tournament was born with many names that have gone down in history.

Rules of basketball 1892 first draft

While there are other newer rules, these original 13 still form the heart of the game.


The player initially played basketball with a soccer ball. At that time, they made round balls from “soccer”, with a set of laces to close the hole needed to insert the inflatable bladder bag after the other segments of the shell were turned outward. These laces could be tricky and unpredictable when bouncing passes and dribbling. 

Finally, Dr. Naismith invented a threadless method of sewing balls and endorsed this game-changer. Meanwhile, in American football, keeping the lace on the ball proved to be advantageous for grip and is maintained to this day. 

The first balls made specifically for basketball were brown and with visible inward laces.  

Then, in the late 1950s, Tony Hinkle realized that an orange ball would be more visible to players and spectators. Thanks to his recognition, orange remains the most used color up to these days.

Basketball then and now

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Hoop Evolution

At first, Dr. Naismith placed two baskets used to pick peaches on the balcony of the gym. At that instant, the gym’s balcony had a height of 3.05m (120.1 inches), so today, this height corresponds to the distance from the court surface to the top edge of the basket rim.

These peach baskets retained their bottom, and the balls must be picked by hand after each “basket” or point scored. However, this method proved ineffective, so he removed the bottom of the basket, allowing the balls dropped with one long pin at a time.

Until 1906, Dr. Naismith finally replaced the basket by metal rings with base plates. A further change was soon made so that the ball simply fell over the basket.


Over time, basketball rules have evolved considerably to make the game more fluid, up-tempo, and entertaining. Every year, there are a few rule changes, and keeping up with those is one of our challenges as officials. 

But the basic infrastructure of the original ruleset is still in place. It has survived 130 years and is still counting. Hope that my article will help you answer the question of how has basketball changed over time.

Reference Source: Where Basketball was Invented: The History of Basketball


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