Basketball vs. Soccer: Head to Head Comparison

Who does not love to watch the soccer World Cup? If you ask this question to a random crowd, you will hardly find people who do not love the game.

Again, if you ask the same question to the Americans, you will find, some people do not have interest in this spot. Some of them will even step further and say that they love basketball.

But a sports loving person must admit that both the games are pretty enjoyable to watch and play. Although, in some cases, you will find it difficult to play soccer and in some cases, basketball is hard to play, and vice-versa.

In this article, we will discuss the differences between basketball and soccer.

How Basketball Differs from Soccer

Field Dimensions

The differences start from the very thing that these two sports are played on. Soccer is played on artificial or natural grass surface which is up to 65 yards wide and 125 yards long.

It is not possible to manage such a huge area indoor, so it is played in outdoor condition.

While on the other hand, basketball is played on the wooden floor and it is played in indoor condition. The court differs regarding the level of the players.

For college and pro levels, the wooden court is 94 by 50 feet, and for the high school level, it is 85 by 50 feet.

Ball Size and Type

Soccer is played with a round shape synthetic ball. There are pentagonal sections on its skin. The color and design of that section depend on what tournament the ball is used for.

In the world cup, the design changes every year according to the host country.

With basketball, the design of the ball does not change. The ball is made of an orange leather composite ball which is bordered with symmetrical lines.

Numbers of Players

There are 11 players in soccer with limited numbers of substitutes. One player is the goalkeeper; the rest are divided in defense, mid-field and front-line. The height of the players does not have any influences in soccer.

In basketball, each team consists of 5 players with unlimited substitutes. There is no restriction on players to stay in one particular place. Therefore, they can roam around the court.

The height of the players is significant. As the basket rim is very high from the ground, the players with low height will not be able to score much. Therefore, height influences a lot to play this game.


In soccer, a player can score goals from many options such as through penalty and free-kicks. Even a long distance shot also counts as a goal. Each goal counts as one point.

Meaning, no matter how skilled your kick was, and from how far you made it to the net, you only get one point.

Scoring in basketball is quite different. The points depend on how the basket is scored. If you throw the ball from long-distance behind an arc, that will count as three points for your team. And all other shots from within an arc during the clock running, are of two points.

Furthermore, if a free-throwing attempted 15 feet far from the basket from a line while the clock is stopped, it would add only one point.


Soccer goals are pretty larger than basketball goals. The goal post is eight by twenty-four feet. At the back side of the goals, there is a net attached to it. That is the reason why in soccer, there is an individual who guards the post all the time.

Basketball goals are known as rims. They are 18 inches in diameter. The rims are attached to the lower portion of a wooden backboard or glass which is at 10 feet high from the floor. A net is attached to the lower side of the rim.

The Game Play

In soccer, the contest is known as a match. There are two 45-minutes halves. An additional 15-minute short break is given between these two halves. If you want to watch a soccer match in T.V. you need around 2 hours of sitting. Once the players are announced, there will be no change.

Things are not that long in duration when it comes to the basketball. A basketball game consists of two 20-minute halves for the collegiate level and four 8-minutes quarters for high school level. At the professional level, there are four 12-minute quarters.

In soccer, players are not allowed to touch the ball with their hands. Any attempts with conducting the ball with the hand will be considered as foul, and the opposing team will have free-kick.

The only exception is with the goal-keeper. He can touch the ball with hands. The players are free to exchange back-passes between them.

In basketball, it is the opposite. Players are forbidden to touch the ball with their feet. So, it is penalized for using feet to deal with the ball. The players cannot back-pass the ball to any teammate. 

The players have time for outs for taking rest and making changes in plan.

Offside vs. Fast Breaks

If the defensive players are behind of two offensive players in attacking field near the goal line (past midfield), the referee addresses it as offside. Then the defensive team gets the chance to free-kick.

Therefore, it is forbidden to keep the ball in between 2 attacking players when the defenders are behind them.

This type of thing also happens in basketball, but it is not considered a forbidden action. If the offensive players push the ball up-court to score while defenders are behind them, it is called the fast break. It is one of the opportunities that players are sought-after in a basketball game.

Quicker vs. Speed

For a soccer player, he needs to be fast. If a player can run fast for distance running, he would have the most chance of a scoring goal.

On the other hand, basketball is more of quickness than speed. The players need to run quickly to score. Its short time duration is another reason why they must act quickly.

Low-high Scoring Game

A soccer field is huge in distances, and the players get 90 minutes to play adding both halves. So, it is quite difficult to run and make it to the opponent goal post. Therefore, a soccer match is low scoring compared to a basketball game.

The court in basketball is quite smaller than the soccer field, and the players get only 25 seconds to strike, players can score more often. So, it is a high scoring game compared to a soccer match.


Both the soccer and basketball are a very popular form of spots. They both have numbers of passionate fans around the world. The popularity of soccer even reaches to unknown villages in Africa. On the other hand, basketball is popular mostly in North America.

Hopefully, our article will make your concept even more clear about these two popular sports.

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