What Did James Naismith Invent? Which Sport


When we think of inventors we may think of Benjamin Franklin and the invention of Electricity. Many of us have heard the name James Naismith but are not quite sure what he invented.

What did James Naismith Invent? James Naismith invented the game we call basketball in 1891 while working as a physical education instructor at the YMCA in Springfield Massachusetts. Naismith was directed by his Superior to create a game to keep the students occupied during class. By examining different sports he came up with the game basketball.

Naismith the founding father of the sport, was featured in the local paper with a set of rules he created for basketball. It instantly became extremely popular and was spread nationwide.

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Who was James Naismith?

James Naismith was born on November 6, 1861, in Almonte Ontario, Canada. As a youth, Naismith enjoyed playing various sports such as soccer, gymnastics, and wrestling.  He liked gymnastics and wrestling the most especially while teaching because he felt it was best for building physical strength and power for young boys.

Naismith who was 30 years old took a job at the International YMCA Training School in Springfield Massachuttes. His job was to train would be in instructors that would eventually be placed in YMCA locations around the United States.


Quick Fact: The YMCA stands for the Young Men’s Christian Association and was founded on June 6, 1844, in London England.


One day Naismith was asked by his superior to invent a game to occupy the students during class as it was too cold do go outdoors for activities. Naismith felt like he had to create something really good as he was under a lot of pressure to do so.

Naismith examined other sports such as soccer football and rugby and though sports lead to creating the game we know as basketball. It became an instant success and caught on quick as journalists were already writing about it in the newspaper within a year of its birth.

Though not in the exact form as it is today, it was certainly different back then and over the course of the century the game has made numerous changes and those changes make basketball what it is today. Which to me is the most entertaining sport in the world, my bias opinion.

Naismith was a humble man and many inventions especially back then go by the person’s name. In this case, many people thought the game should be called Naismith Ball. Naismith didn’t like it and stuck with basketball instead.

How Was Basketball Played Back Then?

Basketball was different back then, Naismith had 18 students in is class and made the game based on that many students. He divided the teams into two equal teams with 9 on each side.

The game was very different back then, the gym that made up the court was very small as it was and the game had no dribbling or steps you could take. They used peach net baskets as hoops and a soccer ball to try and score in the peach hoop baskets.

Think back to when you first touched a basketball and tried to hoot it in the hoop how terrible you were, I can remember and I couldn’t imagine how hard it must have been to shoot with a soccer ball and a peach basket that was probably smaller than the basket we see today.

When a player would score, someone would have to retrieve the ball from the net as there was no hole at the bottom of the peach basket. The ball had to be retrieved from the basket using a ladder to do so. Eventually, someone realized that they could make a small hole at the bottom of the basket and they would just use a broomstick to poke the ball out of the hoop from the bottom.

Eventually, I’m sure they had an einstein moment and cut the whole bottom of the peach basket so that anytime anyone shot the ball into the hoop it would fall right through.


The Rules Of Basketball According To Naismith

James Naismith created 13 rules for the game of basketball when it was invented. I imagine that there were some trial and error during the first couple time of times the game was played. The 13 rules were published in the newspaper to further explain the game and how it was played. This is what it said in the paper.



A New Popular Game

Instead Of Kicking The Ball Toss It

Instead Of Kicking a Goal, Throw IT

Instead Of “Downs” Keep The Ball Up

Like Football it requires “Team Play,” ” Tackling,”

“Blocking,” and ‘Passing.” Basketball can be played

Outdoors or In-doors by small or large

teams. It is interesting to players and spectators.

Send ten cents for a descriptive pamphlet containing


Springfield, Mass.


The advertisement above appeared in the Triangle, Volume 1 Number 7, September 1892, the official publication of Springfield College, Springfield, Massachusetts.


I could just picture before the rules were established the amount of arguing that must of took place, such as the fouls you see today.

Here’s what you may have received for those 10 cents back in the day when you ordered your copy of how the game is played. This was also later published in the paper as an article in the Triangle.


(I do not own the rights to this article, this is for educational purposes only),


We present our readers a new game of ball, which seems to have those elements in it which ought to make it popular among the Associations. It fills the same place in the gymnasium that football does in the athletic field. any number of men may play it, and each one gets plenty of exercise; at the same time, it calls for physical judgment, and coordination of every muscle, and gives all-around development. It can be played by teams from different Associations combines skill with courage and agility so that the better team wins.

The ground is the gymnasium floor cleared of apparatus (it may be shoved behind the sidelines), though it could be played in the open air, at a picnic, etc. When there is a running track around the gymnasium, the ground might be marked out just under the track, and the baskets hung up, one at each end on the railing. All outside of this line is then out of bounds. When there is no running track, the ends may be cleared of the apparatus. Across these lines would be out of bounds.

The goals are a couple of baskets or boxes about 15 inches in diameter across the opening, and about 15 inches deep. These are suspended 10 feet from the floor. The object of the game is to put the ball into your opponent’s goal. This may be done by throwing the ball from any part of the grounds, with one or both hands, under the following conditions and rules:


Dr. James Naismith’s Original 13 Rules of Basketball

1. The ball may be thrown in any direction with one or both hands. 

2. The ball may be batted in any direction with one or both hands (never with the fist).

3. A player cannot run with the ball. The player must throw it from the spot on which he catches it, an allowance to be made for a man who catches the ball when running at a good speed if he tries to stop.

4. The ball must be held in or between the hands; the arms or body must not be used for holding it.

5. No shouldering, holding, pushing, tripping, or striking in any way the person of an opponent shall be allowed; the first infringement of this rule by any player shall count as a foul, the second shall disqualify him until the next goal is made, or, if there was evident intent to injure the person, for the whole of the game, no substitute allowed.

6. A foul is striking at the ball with the fist, violation of Rules 3,4, and such as described in Rule 5.

7. If either side makes three consecutive fouls, it shall count a goal for the opponents (consecutive means without the opponents in the meantime making a foul).

8. A goal shall be made when the ball is thrown or batted from the grounds into the basket and stays there, providing those defending the goal do not touch or disturb the goal. If the ball rests on the edges, and the opponent moves the basket, it shall count as a goal.

9. When the ball goes out of bounds, it shall be thrown into the field of play by the person first touching it. In case of a dispute, the umpire shall throw it straight into the field. The thrower-in is allowed five seconds; if he holds it longer, it shall go to the opponent. If any side persists in delaying the game, the umpire shall call a foul on that side.

10. The umpire shall be the judge of the men and shall note the fouls and notify the referee when three consecutive fouls have been made. He shall have the power to disqualify men according to Rule 5.

11. The referee shall be the judge of the ball and shall decide when the ball is in play, in bounds, to which side it belongs, and shall keep the time. He shall decide when a goal has been made, and keep account of the goals with any other duties that are usually performed by a referee.

12. The time shall be two 15-minute halves, with five minutes’ rest between.

13. The side making the most goals in that time shall be declared the winner. In case of a draw, the game may, by agreement of the captains, be continued until another goal is made.


This game is interesting to spectators as well as to the players and maybe made quite scientific by good judgment combined with good coordination.  Several good points have been scored by two or three players working together. The number composing a team depends largely on the size of the floor space, but it may range from three on a side to 40. The fewer players down to three, the more scientific it may be made, but the more fun, and the more exercise for quick judgment. The men may be arranged according to the idea of the captain, but it has been found advantageous to have a goalkeeper, two guards, three center men, two wingmen and a home man stationed in the above order from the goal.

It shall be the duty of the goalkeeper and the two guards to prevent the opponents from scoring. The duty of the wingman and the home man is to put the ball into the opponents’ goal, and the center men shall feed the ball forward to the man who has the best opportunity, thus nine men make the best number for a team.

It is well suited for boys. Director Finch has introduced in his boy’s classes with apparent success. We wish that the physical directors would try the game, and report any points that might be amended.

It is intended that this game should be free from much of the reputed roughness of Rugby, and in the framing of rules, this has been kept strictly in view. If some of the rules seem unnecessarily severe, it would be remembered that the time to stop roughness is before it begins.

A gymnasium is bounded by hard walls and has a pretty solid floor, and for that reason, any shoving that would injure a person must be stopped, e.g., when a man raises his arms to throw the ball, another might give him the shoulder, and disable him, but if this is stopped there will be an understanding that it is not allowed. It is for the benefit of the physical director that no man be hurt by the gymnasium, so that any director who tries it should make every man conform to the rules, strictly at first, and then he would soon get accustomed to playing ball instead of trying to injure his neighbor, when it is nothing but a friendly tussle in which they are taking part.

The very men who are rough in playing will be the very first ones to oppose the game on this account, for there is that in man’s nature which will retaliate and the rough player generally gets the worst of the roughness. If there is need, let it be played as any other game of science and skill, then men will value it. But there is neither science or skill in taking a man unawares, and shoving him and catching his arm and pulling him away when he is about to catch the ball. A dog could do as much as that.

There seems to be no way of compensating the opponents for a foul made. A free throw was thought of but after a little practice, a good thrower could convert into a goal almost every time, because of the limits of the ordinary gymnasium. Then the idea was that three fouls count as a goal, and would be deterrent to the making of them. This is true for when a team finds that another foul would count a goal against them, the extra foul is hardly ever made, showing that it is possible to play the game without making fouls.

If men will not be gentlemanly in their play, it is our place to encourage them to games that may be played by gentlemen in a mannerly way, and show that science is superior to brute force with a disregard for the feelings of others. The umpire will thus be responsible for much of the roughness if he lets it go unchecked, but if he is firm and impartial in his ruling he will gain respect even of those who suffer at the time. We would advise the director to keep a good firm grasp on the ruling for a while at first.

The above article is from the Triangle Newspaper and is used as a reference.


Basketball Moves Forward

In 1895 James Naismith moved to Denver to take a position at a YMCA while going to medical school at the University of Colorado. After earning his degree in the field Naismith moved to Kansas and became the first college basketball coach in the USA at the University Of Colorado.


Timeline Of Basketball


  • Basketball was invented by James Naismith.
  • The first public game played in France of that year.
  • Basketball was published in the Newspaper with rules to the game.
  • Women began playing basketball also.
  • The first college basketball was played.
  • The first professional league emerged called N.B.L. (National Basketball League).
  • James Naismith moves to Kansas University to become the first college basketball coach ever.
  •  Metal hoops with nets and backboards introduced with a Spalding basketball.
  • The All Black League was formed in New York.
  • The first International match was held in Petersburg.
  • The original Celtics were a team that toured and played other teams until 1928.
  • The Frist African American Team Was founded.
The late 1920s
  •  The African American Globetrotters touring team was founded.
  • FIBA was established.
  • Basketball Becomes an Olympic Sport.
  • BAA – Basketball Association of America founded.
  • NBL – The National Basketball League was founded and eventually merged with BAA calling it the NBA – National Basketball Association.
  • First World Basketball Championships was held in Argentina.
  • ABA – American Basketball Association with Julius Erivin the Star of the League.
  • ABA merged with the NBA.

James Naismith Changed The World

Throughout the years it is apparent that basketball has changed many people’s lives from keeping kids off the street to bringing together players of all different religious views and beliefs to be as one on the court.

I can not tell you how many people I have met through basketball that I otherwise would have not if it were not for the game. I’m an introvert who rarely talks to people and tries to make friends. But on the court whether you know someone or not as you are in the same gym, you immediately know of them and it’s so easy to spark a conversation and make friends immediately.

Basketball is growing at a rapid rate, it is the 2nd most popular game in the world with 400 million players playing globally. Why such growth? I believe that it is because the sport is practically free to play and doesn’t take much to get a game going. There are so many ways to play the game 1 on 1 to 5 on 5 with the different variations of games in between. You show up at a court, and say the magic words, HEY! WANT TO PLAY?


James Naismith Dies

James Naismith passed away in 1939 in Lawerence Kansas, on November 28. Before his death, he was able to see the birth of his game grow to be a competitive sport played by many International countries. Even witnessing the first time basketball was played in the Olympics, although not played indoors it was played outdoors, while the gold medal was played in Berlin in which the USA beat Canada in the gold medal 19 to 8.

The James Naismith Memorial Hall Of Fame is located in the birthplace of the sport in Springfield Massachusetts, in which the theme is  “The American Game Played Worldwide”.


The Future Of Basketball

I believe the future of basketball is bright but is going to be much different than ever before. As of right now, the game has seen a tremendous amount of threes a team shoots compared to ever before. If I had to make some predictions, I would not be surprised if in the near future there is a 4 point line.

Basketball has to change with the times, I do believe that it will soon be a 3pt and layup game with a very small amount of mid-range shots, it is already happening with some teams. Centers are shooting more 3 balls than before, players are getting even taller and are not playing the height of there position. An example is Kevin Durant and Kristaps Porzingis both are around 7 feet tall and playing small forward or shooting guard. That was unheard of years ago for their height.

Basketball by far, in my opinion, is the most entertaining sport in the world with the storylines becoming more personal now with social media. The endless highlight reels and dunks that seem to always get better and never seem old after watching it 100 times.

You are able to now watch on youtube the future of young basketball stars and follow them through the ranks of high school, AAU, And college all the way to the NBA. It doesn’t get better than that.



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