The History of Basketball and Volleyball

Term Paper, 2004

7 Pages, Grade: A (very good)



This paper is concerned with the games Basketball and Volleyball. It traces their histories back to the early roots of the games and creates an outline of how they developed into their present form and status. The paper emphasizes the chronological succession of the events and gives an overview about the most important information that is available about volleyball. The History of Basketball and Volleyball From its Early Origins to its Status Today.

The History Of Basketball

Ancient Predecessors

In 100 B.C. until 1100 A.D. the empire of the Maya was spread over big parts of Middle and Northern America. Findings on the peninsula Yucatan/Mexico prove that the Mayas played a certain game for cultic reasons in which a rubber ball was shot through a ring that was placed in approximately 30 feet height at a wall. To get the ball through this ring the players had to use their hips or shoulders. Resulting from these complicated circumstances, the first point was usually made after several days of playing (Geschichte des Korbballs, 2004). Also, other ancient cultures used to play similar games. Under the name Top-Tapok it was also known to the Aztecs and the Inca. The Normans played this game and they called it Soule-Picarde and even old Persian texts confirm that forms of basketball existed there (Deutscher Basketball-Bund, 2004). With the fall of these early empires, the game of shooting a ball though a ring was forgotten.

Modern Basketball

A long time after that, in 1891, the modern basketball was invented. The idea was born when a young Canadian boy, later known worldwide as Dr. James Naismith, “played a simple child's game known as duck-on-a-rock outside his one-room schoolhouse.” (History of Basketball,2004) The object of that game was to hit a duck off a large rock by tossing stones at it. Instead of strength, much throwing skill was needed to get a point in this game. After having studied at McGill University in Montreal, Canada and being athletic director at this same University, Naismith moved to Springfield, Massachusetts to join the YMCA Training School there. Being a physical educator he was dealing with the problem that his students and workers could not play sports outside in winter and that the rooms for indoor sports where rather small (History of Basketball, 2004). His primary goal was to invent a game that, like duck-on-a-rock, did not rely on physical strength only, but was useful to develop the player’s motor skills (History of Basketball, 2004).

The result was a fairly simple game, where a soccer ball was tossed into a peach basket hanging high on a wall. He was not aware of the similar games that already existed long before he was born. Because one player had to climb up to the basket with a ladder in order to remove the ball after a point was scored, soon the bottoms of the peach baskets were removed in order to increase the speed of the game (Wilkes, 1982, p. 68).

In the beginning basketball had a set of only thirteen rules. After each point the game started with a jump ball at the center of the court. Running with the ball in any form (including dribbling) was forbidden. It had to be thrown from the same spot where the player caught it – “allowance [was] made for a man running at good speed.” (History of Basketball, 2004) This seems to be the origin of what is later called the two-step- rule. Also hard physical contact was not allowed, since it would give stronger players an advantage. Despite the borders of the court no special zones existed. If the ball was out, the first player to grab the ball could throw it back into the game (History of Basketball, 2-2-04).

Changes in the rules.

Basketball quickly became popular. Having been invented in 1891, by 1892 Yale already formed a team. One year later other universities followed, and only four years after that the first intercollegiate games were played (Wilkes, 1982, p. 68). While quickly becoming popular, the rules also had to be refined and adapted. In the early 1930s the rule to restart the game at the center of the court has been deleted in order to increase the speed of the game and to make it more interesting for the audience. Also, certain time limitations underwent changes. While the first set of rules only contained a five second rule for throwing the ball back into the field if it was out. Soon another 10-second rule was established again to increase the speed of the game. This rule made it necessary to cross the midline of the court within the first ten seconds of play. In spite of most teams using this rule, some high-school girls teams played with a different 30 seconds rule instead. This rule obliged the players to shoot at the basket within the first 30 seconds the team has the ball (Wilkes, 1982, p. 69). Versions of both of these rules are still in use. As the game was played all over the world the great advantages of tall players to reach the basket became apparent. As a reaction to that a series of rule changes occurred. First, the free-throw lane was invented and marked on the court. Offensive players now could only be in that area for three seconds at most. Later, this free-throw lane was widened from originally six to twelve feet (Wilkes, 1982, p. 69).

The Spread of Basketball

As I already said, modern basketball quickly became very popular in the United States after its invention in 1891. However, its popularity was not bound to cultural circumstances, but rapidly gained importance all over the world. This is mainly due to the work of the YMCA which introduced it in many countries and to the American Military during World War I, which dramatically increased the importance of basketball in the American Society (Pope, 1995, p.447).

It spread so quickly that in 1936 it was already part of the Olympic Games in Berlin.

Afterwards other international competitions followed and took place even during World War II. Due to the destruction of gymnasiums and open places Basketball could not be played in Europe (especially Germany) anymore on a regular basis, after World War II was over. Like the recovery of the nations, the recovery of European basketball took place slowly, but steadily. Finally in 1949 the first nationwide German basketball organization was founded substantiating the full recovery of Basketball there (Deutscher Basketball-Bund 2, 2004). Unhampered by wars and cultural boarders Basketball made its way to being one of the most popular team sports all over the world.


Excerpt out of 7 pages


The History of Basketball and Volleyball
Armstrong Atlantic State University  (Health and Physical Education)
Team Sports Techniques II
A (very good)
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
File size
362 KB
This term paper in APA-format describes the history of Volleyball and Basketball from the early beginnings onwards. It also depicts the ways in which the rules have changed and why they have changed.
History, Basketball, Volleyball, Team, Sports, Techniques
Quote paper
Franz Wegener (Author), 2004, The History of Basketball and Volleyball, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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