Each area of the court has its own name. It is very important to use the proper terminology when describing these areas. The court areas of a typical basketball court include:
Three Second Area
This is the area below the free throw line and between the lane lines. It is sometimes called the "Paint" or “Lane” since, in most gyms, it is painted. If any offensive player remains in this area for more than three seconds it is a violation and the other team gets the ball.
The block is a buffer area painted on the lane lines separating offensive and defensive players during a free throw attempt. Additionally, it is a very strategic area during the game. Any player - offensive or defensive - establishing a position on the block gains a definite advantage.
The elbow is the area of the court where the free throw line meets the lane line. Like the "Block", the Elbows become important on dribble penetration. Any player - offense or defense - who gets to the elbow first will gain an advantage.
Free Throw Line Extended
This imaginary line represents the extension of the free throw line across the width of the court. Most coaches use it to establish defensive rules. When the ball is above the free throw line extended a certain rule applies. When the ball is below it another rule applies. It is also used as a reference for offensive player alignment.
Top Of Circle (Key)
The top of circle is the area straight out from the basket just outside the free throw circle. It is use primarily as a reference for aligning offensive and defensive players. It is also a favorite spot from which many players like to shoot.
The wing area is located on the side of the court near the free throw line extended. Wing areas are designated "Ballside" or Weakside" according to the location of the player with the ball. The wing on the same side as the ball handler is the "Ballside or Strongside" wing. The wing on the side away from the ball handler is the "Weakside" wing.
The "Corner" is primarily used to designate the area where the sideline and baseline meet. This is another favorite area from which players like to shoot. It is usually an open area when zone defense is played. However, it is also an area where the defense can readily trap an offensive player with the ball.
The short corner is an area along the baseline half way between the sideline and the lane line. It is a strategic offensive area especially used against zone defenses.
The term Front Court is used to denote the offensive end of the court from the midcourt line to the baseline.
Back Court is used to denote the area behind the mid court line. It includes the half of the court from the midcourt line back to the endline. Once the ball is advanced across the midcourt line into the front court, it cannot go back into the Back Court.
Next, let's compare the different court sizes and rules used in basketball.