The colored rectangular area on a basketball court is known as the paint. Other common names include The Lane, Free Throw Lane, and The Key. Here is everything you need to know and more about the painted area on a basketball court!
How Big is the Paint in Basketball?
The width of the painted area is 16 feet long and 15 feet wide in the NBA/WNBA, while the NCAA basketball court paint is 12 feet wide. A regulation basketball court for the NBA, WNBA, and NCAA is 94′ long x 50′ wide. For a High School court, their total dimensions are 84′ long x 50′ wide. With the court being smaller, their pant is only 15′ x 12′.
Why is it Called the Paint?
The area of the basketball court that is a different color from the rest of the wooden panels is the paint. The painted area on the court represents the free throw line all the way to the basketball hoop. Typically speaking, the painted area is the color of the home team. For example, TD Garden (Boston Celtics) is green, while Madison Square Garden (picture above) for the New York Knicks is orange.
What are the Parts of the Basketball Paint Area?
- Top of the Key: Represents the half-circle in front of the free-throw line
- High Post: A place slightly closer to the basket compared to the top of the key where players might post up to take a shot
- Low Post: An area beneath the high post where players might post up to take a shot from a pass
- The Block: The shapes along the free-throw lane lines where players line up during a free throw attempt
How Many Seconds Can You Be in the Paint?
The defense and offense can only stay in the paint for three seconds or risk a three-second rule violation. A defensive player can’t stand inside the color for more than three seconds unless they actively guard an offensive player. A defensive player that stays in the paint for more than three seconds without defending an offensive player result in a technical foul.
Offensive players have to leave the paint after three seconds as well during a play. If an offensive player stays in color for longer than three seconds, it loses possession of the ball for their team on that play. That is why players stand outside the paint on offensive plays.
When Did the 3-Second Rule Enter the NBA?
What is the Restricted Area Arc on The Court?
The restricted area is a half-circle that sits directly underneath a basketball hoop via a four-foot dotted or closed circle. A defensive man can’t take a charging penalty within that circle while standing in this area playing defense. If any contact occurs in that restricted arc area, the defensive player automatically gets charged with a foul against the opposing team.
In 1997, the restrictive area became an official rule in the NBA. The restrictive site on the court stops a defensive player from camping out underneath the hoop to draw a foul. For example, you can’t have a defensive player run to this spot to collide with a player on a layup to draw a foul on them.
Other Violations in the Painted Area to Know About
Another violation in the paint is during a free throw attempt with the offense or defense. For example, if a shooter’s teammate enters the paint before the ball releases from their hand, the point won’t count even if they make the basket. If a defensive player enters the paint before the shot from a free throw attempt, the offensive team can shoot again even if they miss.
What Does it Mean to Score in the Paint?
Scoring in the paint means that points occur within that painted area on a basketball court. Points can be from a dunk, a layup, or a field goal when the player is in the paint.
Why Does the Paint Yield a High Percentage Shot?
The paint is close to the basketball hoop, which yields high percentage shots. That means a high percentage chance of scoring since the offensive team can dunk, layup, and hit a field goal from a short distance. Unlike a three-point shot that sits 23 feet and 9 inches from the hoop, the paint is much closer to the hoop, making it easier to score points.
How Do Teams Use the Paint During a Basketball Game?
Teams might have their big man or power forward post up near the paint to wait for a pass to then shoot the ball. Depending on the offensive team’s play, you will see that player enter the paint quickly to signal a pass. From there, the big man might take a shot, lay the ball up, or even dunk without creating a three-second violation since the sequence was so quick in that area.
How Can a Defense Protect the Paint?
Some teams like to run a 2-3 zone defense scheme to protect the painted area during a game. The 2-3 defense means you have two players playing the top of the court with three in the back. Having three players play closer to the hoop means one player is in the paint. However, that player needs to leave the color if they are not actively guarding an offensive player or receive a violation.
General Basketball Lines on a Court
- Jump Area: Where the jump ball begins during a basketball game in the 12′ circle in the middle of the court
- Baseline out of Bounds (BoB): This area sits on each side of the court behind the hoops signaling out of bounds
- Free-throw Line: This is where you go to take a free throw shot after a foul
- Half Court Line: Separates the two sides of the basketball court
- Three-Point Line: Anything past the arc that sits 23.9 feet away from the hoop will count as three points on a shot
- Sideline Out of Bounds (SoB): This sideline represents in and out of bounds
Other Sizes to Be Familiar With on the Court
The basketball rim size is 18″ in diameter. There is no size difference from High School to the NBA via the rim. The hoop sits 10′ off the ground from the rim to the floor, while the backboard is 72″ by 42″.
Conclusion: What is the Paint in Basketball
In summary, the painted area is usually a different color from the rest of the court, which allows it to stand out on the playing surface. It also yields high percentage shots for offensive teams. For the defense, they can collect rebounds or stop the offensive from getting easy layups during a game if they can protect this area.
However, one thing to remember is that it comes down to referees to enforce the three-second violation rule for either the offense or defense. Both the offense and defense can’t camp out in the painted area for too long without potentially having a violation occur.