What is the Top of the Key in Basketball?

What is the Top of the Key in Basketball?

On a basketball court, the space between the free-throw line and the hoop is typically marked by a painted rectangle. The rectangular area is the key, while the apex of the arch line at the free-throw line is the top of the key.

The top point inside the 2-point shooting area is the top of the key. Read on as we give a detailed breakdown of the top of the key in basketball.

What is the Key Area on a Basketball Court?

The key area on a basketball court is the area directly under the basketball hoop to the free-throw line. On most occasions, teams usually paint the key area of their courts to match their colors.

The area is 16 feet long and 15 feet broad for the NBA and WNBA. While it measures about 12 feet wide in NCAA college basketball.

What Must the Offense and Defense Know about the Basketball Key?

Offensive and defensive players must know there is a three seconds violation if they stay in the painted area for more than 3 seconds. If the offensive team commits the 3-seconds violation, they will lose the ball’s possession.

On the other hand, a defensive 3-second violation will give the offensive team the chance to go to the free-throw line and make a shot.

You must consistently exit that free throw lane after two seconds to avoid receiving a 3-second violation and risk a penalty call. Hence, it is better to run an offensive play with the point guard passing to the center when executing a play in the key.

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Anytime your defender enters the paint, you should stay with them to defend and stop any easy shots to the basket. One tip to avoid conceding a penalty for your team is to take a half step behind them as they enter the key.

What Makes the Top of the Key Unique in Basketball?

The basketball court’s free throw circle is at the top of the key. A player enters this circle when they must attempt a free throw and must keep both feet inside the foul line while shooting.

How Many Top of the Keys are on the Basketball Court?

The back court and the front court each have two top keys in a basketball court.

How Many Points Are Earned When a Shot Is Made on the Top of the Key?

Any shot a basketball player makes from the top of the key is worth two points. However, if the ball handler is fouled while scoring a two-pointer, he will be given an opportunity for an additional free throw.

Hence, scoring from the top of the key may potentially yield three points only if there is a foul on the offensive team after they must have converted their opportunity to score a two-pointer.

Is Shooting from the Top of the Key a Good Idea for Basketball Players?

It’s not a smart idea to take shots from the key since the three-point line was introduced to the NBA in the 1979-80 season. For instance, making a three-pointer from the corner next to the sideline is closer than shooting from the top of the key.

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A corner three-pointer is 22 feet from the hoop, while a top of the key shot is 23.75 feet. In FIBA and NCAA basketball games, the top of the key is 22 feet from the hoop, so it is slightly closer than in the NBA.

You should reduce the number of shots you attempt from the top of the key because they are closer and worth one more point when made from a three-point corner.

How Important Is the Top of the Key in Pickup Basketball Games?

The top of the key serves as the obvious baseline for one side to assume control of the offense since most pickup games are played on a half-court. Hence, it is quite important when playing pickup basketball.

Usually, the defensive team that successfully rebounds the ball off the rim or backboard must dribble back to the key to create a clear and initiate the offensive play.

You don’t have to worry about the other team getting the ball at the top of the key if you are playing pickup basketball on a full court. The only clear required on a full court is to pass the half-court line.

How Big is the NBA/WNBA Top of the Key?

In the NBA and WNBA, the semi-circle at the top of the key is 6 feet.

How Big is the NCAA College Basketball Top of the Key?

In NCAA college basketball, the semi-circle at the top of the key is 6 feet.


One of the farthest two-point shots you can attempt in NBA, NCAA, WNBA, FIBA, and High School Basketball contests is from the top of the key.

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Most coaches advise their players to step back and attempt a three-point shot because the distance is comparable and shooting from this distance is a two-point attempt.

The fact that you make a shot from the top of the key does not give you any extra points. Basketball enthusiasts should be aware of the significance of the top of the key when playing pickup games on a half-court.

Players must dribble the ball behind the top of the key to begin an offensive possession in order to clear the ball. The greatest place to shoot a shot from after that is anywhere else on the court other than that spot.

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4. What is a Flagrant Foul in Basketball?

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