What Is The Baseline In Basketball? (Illustration)

Being familiar with the areas in the basketball court will surely help the players and the audience understand whether a violation is being committed or the scoring is in favor of the other team and the how’s, based on the areas where it occurs.  

So, what is the baseline?

The baseline is the boundaries of both court ends, separating the area where a player is supposed to play and where it is out of the boundaries. Frequently, it is referred to as endlines on each side of the court. 

What is the Baseline in Basketball?

Baseline in basketball

If you wonder what the baseline in basketball is, it is simply the out-of-bounds marker on either side of the court behind each basket.

Suppose a player possessing the basketball steps on the line or touches it with any part of their body. In that case, the referee will make an out-of-bounds call, which will be considered a turnover.

The baseline is 49.21 feet long, with the backboard protruding four feet outwards from the baseline.

Sports analysts and basketball enthusiasts have clarified the distinction between endline and baseline. There is none. These two terms similarly refer to the exact location where both ends of the court, behind the basket, where the players had to be mindful of their steps. 

Where is the Baseline in Basketball?

The baseline is located along the sidelines or edges just behind the basket in the basketball court. Approximately four feet away from the basket, its extension is toward the court’s sidelines. 

Here, many coaches draw up both offensive and defensive strategies off out-of-bounds plays and baseline screens.

On the offensive, the baseline is critical, as it helps in baseline cuts or backdoor cuts that offer tantalizingly easy layups or dunks. Moreover, amazing offensive teams have a lot of out-of-bounds play variations in their attack artillery.

On the defensive front, the most significant play is baseline screens which greatly frustrate the players from the opposing team. Apart from this, there is also the force middle approach which greatly helps by limiting open shots from being made by the opposing players.

This approach is articulated to full effect if the number 5 is good at blocking shots. The force baseline is the other significant contribution to defensive play, though a high risk-high reward. The reason why it is still adored despite the risks is that it results in easy turnovers.

How many Baselines are there in Basketball?

There are two baselines. There are four lines on the court, a pair of baselines, and another pair of sidelines. All these lines help mark-out the out of bounds regions of the court.

There are two endlines or baselines placed on both ends of the court. The thickness of these lines makes it easier for players to be aware not to cross beyond them. Its width is approximately 50 feet for both endlines. 

How Long is a Baseline?

Half basketball court

The baseline is 49.21 feet long, with the backboard protruding four feet outwards from the baseline. Most entries have it read 50 feet, but the exact measurement is 49.21 feet.

It is also called the endline and extends from one side to the other.

Baseline to Baseline Basketball Distance

The half-court length is usually 47 feet, while that of the full court is double that, 94 feet. 

Therefore, the distance between two baselines on opposing ends is 94 feet. These are the standard measurements for NBA. It is different for FIBA and NCAA.

Different Lines on a Basketball Court

Lines in a basketball court

On the basketball court, there are different lines that every player and watchers must be familiar with, or if they already are, be reminded:


These are lines that clarify the boundaries between inbound and outbound. If a player crosses beyond this line or has reached through, clearly, it’s out of the boundaries. 


Also called the End Lines, they are situated at the court’s ends. To inbound a ball, a player must stand behind the baseline and into the side of the backboard.

Free Throw Line

Also known as the Foul Line, its distance is greater from the basket in college and NBA basketball.

Boundary Lines

They set the inbounds and out of bounds.; they are the combined sidelines and baselines.

Midcourt Line

Also called Half-Court Line, it divides the court into two halves.

Lane Lines

These are the two lines perpendicularly attached to the free throw lines and the baselines. Bounded by the free-throw line, it forms the “paint” or “key” where players cannot stay longer than three seconds.

Three-Point Line

Also known as Three Point Arc, it dictates the points for a field goal. If made outside the three-point line, it is worth three points.

Hash Marks

During a free throw, these are where non-shooting players should position themselves.

Restricted Area

A restricted arc or restricted zone is the semicircle under the basket. Offensive charging fouls will not be called here. It has a four-foot radius in the NBA and three feet for college basketball. There is none for high school basketball.

What Happens in the Baseline in Basketball?

Here, usually after the timeout, the baseline is where the partition is made clear. From the inbound to outbound, it serves as the boundary where the players can walk through it but never attempt a field goal or dribble where these lines are being crossed, or one foot is a step beyond. 

Apart from being a boundary that marks the out-of-bounds area, it also helps define different regions of the half-court between the three-point line and the basket. This helps both coaches and players, especially during training to pick out the traditional positions 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5.

Well, it helps define basketball and all the sport’s main positions. It does this by talking about the roles of each one.

Baselines also help define some non-standard or hybrid positions, all the basics about basketball positions and roles. Over time, the sport of basketball has grown to be more positionless, especially at the top level in the NBA.

It’s not entirely as defined and rigid as it used to be, certainly more fluid teams with interchangeable players that can fit multiple positions and roles.

But in terms of the five main traditional positions in basketball, number one is the point guard.

Point Guard

This player is typically the shortest on the team and one of the best passers and ball handlers. The point guard is often responsible for dribbling the basketball up the floor.

So with the ball being in their hands so much, that requires secure ball-handling skills, and they’re typically good basketball shooters, but their primary role is to run the offense and be the quarterback on the floor.

Shooting Guard

The second main position in basketball is the shooting guard, also known as the two-guard, the shooting guard, and the small forward, which are also considered wings.

There are many kinds of shooting guards, but for the most part, as the name suggests, one of their primary roles is shooting the basketball.

These players are some of the most gifted scorers in the game. They also tend to be decent ball handlers as well.

Small Forward

The small forward is on to the third position, also called the three. Small forwards tend to be anywhere from six foot six to six-nine in the NBA.

So not exactly small by the dictionary definition, and the keyword to describe this position, though, is versatility. They do a little bit of everything on the basketball court.

Small forwards have a variety of assets, such as quickness and strength inside. They’re basically like a slightly stronger and taller version of the shooting guard and positionally.

They set up on the wings like the shooting guards. Some small forwards are more defensive-minded, while others can be pure scorers.

High averages in points, rebounds, and assists, a quality motor on defense, and insane athleticism. These are all things that the best small forwards have in their toolbox.

Power Forward

Moving on to the fourth position in basketball. It is the power forward who, like the fifth position, spends most of their time in the paint and is closer to the basket than outside near the three-point line.

Although the power forward position is where the NBA has drastically shifted over the last 20 years, no longer are the days where great power forwards like Tim Duncan roam the paint on both sides.

Nowadays, the power forward is often essentially just an extra small forward, but speaking traditionally, the power forward is a strong, powerful, athletic player who does most of the scoring in the post.


Finally, there is the center. These big men are the tallest players on the court and play the closest to the rim.

Just like with power forwards, centers have changed greatly in the past couple of decades. They have become way more skilled in all facets.

Centers can play with their back to the basket. They are comfortable posting up and shooting layups or jump hooks in tight spaces.

Defensively centers are the anchor on defense. Not only do they have to guard their man, but they are often rotating over to provide help defense on opposing point guards and wings.

Common center skills include size, inside rebounding, scoring strength, and shot deflection.


The baselines set the boundary for the playing area, where field goals and dribbles must not be attempted.

It can be used to a team’s advantage, as coaches can draw up both offensive and defensive strategies from out-of-bounds plays and baseline screens.

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