Basketball Court Layout, Lines & Markings 

basketball court layout

See a typical basketball court layout with the lines and markings explained.

High school, college, and professional leagues have slightly different markings due to different rules, but most lines are the same.

This diagram represents a standard high school basketball court.

Boundary lines

Sideline - The boundary lines on each side of the court.

Baseline - Also called the endline, the boundary lines at each end of the court.

Court markings

Half-court line – Also called mid-court, the line that runs from sideline to sideline across the center of the court.

Jump circles – There are 3 circles on the court: a center circle (CC) at half-court and a free throw circle (FTC) around the free throw line at each end.

Free throw line (FT) – The line 15 feet from the basket that cuts the free throw circle in half.

Lane lines – The two lines that extend from the ends of the free throw line to the baseline surrounding the lane.

Low block (LB) – The largest hash mark at the bottom of the key closest to the basket which serves as a buffer to separate offensive and defensive players lined up on the lane during free throws.

Hash marks (HM) – The markings on each side of the key used for lining players up for free throws.

3-Point Line – Arc extending from the baseline to the top of the key (3). A basket made by a player beyond this line is worth 3 points instead of 2.

Basketball Court Layout
Areas of the court

Lane – Also called the key or 3-second area (1), the rectangular area inside the lane lines from the free throw line to the baseline.

Elbow – Where the free throw line meets the lane line. 

Free throw line extended - An imaginary line that extends from each end of the free throw line to the sidelines. It's an important landmark coaches use for establishing offensive and defensive rules. Different rules apply whether the ball is above or below this line.

Front court – The half of the court containing the basket at which the team is shooting.  

Back court – The half of the court containing the opponent's basket.

The evolution of the modern basketball court layout

The basketball court diagram above barely resembles the courts used during the early years of basketball history

Check out this old photo of the home basketball court used by the Kentucky Wildcats men's basketball team in 1902. Note the lack of court lines and markings.

basketball history

The first basketball game was played in a small basement gym with 18 players spread out on a court about 35 feet by 50 feet in size. That's quite different from the court dimensions used today.

Throughout it's evolution, basketball games were played in some crazy places:

  • in dance halls where players were allowed to bounce the ball off the walls and the ceiling.
  • on courts with obstacles, like coal burning stoves in the corner or poles in the middle.  
  • in gyms with backboards attached to the wall, allowing players to jump up off the wall to shoot the ball. 

It wasn't until 1903 that courts were required to have boundary lines. Before then, many courts didn't have boundaries at all. There are reports of players chasing balls down hallways and into stairwells.

I saw a basketball court picture of a professional basketball court in 1903. It was 65 feet by 35 feet with no markings on it at all except a center circle.

But what was really weird was the huge wire cage surrounding the court, hanging from the ceiling about 11 feet high. I suppose that's one way to stop runaway balls and mass chaos in the hallway!

It took about 40 years after the game was invented to start seeing standardized rules and courts around the country.

Related topics

Compare the basketball court layout of youth, high school, college, pro, and international leagues.

Download free basketball court diagrams. These blank full and half-court templates come in a variety of arrangements perfect for drawing up plays.

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