Have you have ever played on an organized basketball team as a kid or young adult? If so, then you have probably had the experience of running laps around the basketball court. Whether it is for warm-ups or as punishment, it can be a common part of basketball practice for young players.
Let’s face it, basketball involves a lot of running, especially when playing full-court ball. So the real intent of coaches making us run laps around the court was to get us in shape and help us to have good stamina. Coupling all of that running with defense and shooting drills and it will build in-game stamina even more.
So, with all that running around the court, did you ever wonder how many laps you had to run around it to go a mile? I used to think about it while I was running, but I never really stopped to figure it out. In fact, it is quite easy to calculate but let’s first take a look at the quick answer. After that, we can discuss how it is calculated and whether or not there are differences for different court sizes such as youth, high school, college, and NBA.
If you were running laps in high school, you were most likely on a regulation size high school court. For this size court, it would have taken you about 19.7 laps to run a mile. This means that those 20 laps your coach made you run for being late to practice was a little over a mile.
My Personal Experience
Sure, I have run plenty of laps around the basketball court as a player but I have a somewhat funny story from the perspective of a coach. As a coach of my daughter’s rec league team, I never had players run laps for being late, but I did have them run laps to warm up. One particular season, there was a young lady that was consistently late to practice.
Oddly enough, this young lady would always show up just as we were completing our warm-up laps around the court. This player also happened to be a friend of my daughter. Since I was a little concerned about her, I asked my daughter to see if she could find out why she was always late. Maybe she needed a ride to practice.
Sure enough, my daughter found out that the player was purposely coming late so that she could avoid running laps. In fact, she would have her mother take her out to eat and stay long enough so that she could be late to practice and miss warm-up laps. There was no doubt in my mind that the mother was in on it also and allowing her daughter to miss warm-up laps.
Once I found out what was going on, I changed up my practices so that at the beginning we played fun games like HORSE, knock out or 21. Once this young lady arrived at practice, we would immediately stop the game and I would announce that she was there and that we can now start running warm-up laps.
Needless to say, she started getting to practice on time and we went back to running warmup laps as normal. We would run 5 laps, probably about ¼ of a mile (and yes, I would run with them).
How to Calculate the Number of Laps in a Mile
So, let’s get back to discussing how many laps around a basketball court equal a mile. Above we saw that it takes 19.7 laps to complete a mile around a high school size basketball court. So you might be wondering, how did we come up with that number? It is rather simple to calculate. Let’s dissect it a little deeper.
We can find out using basic math. If you remember back to your 6th-grade geometry class, the key to this is calculating the perimeter of the basketball court. If you don’t remember what perimeter is, don’t worry, it’s been a long time since the 6th-grade for many of us, so we will bring you up to speed (there won’t be a quiz at the end either).
The perimeter is the length or distance around the outside of a shape. In this case, it is the rectangle shape of the basketball court. If you know the length and width of the basketball court, you can calculate the perimeter using the following equation :
Perimeter = 2 x Length + 2 x Width
Or for short
P = 2L +2W
See the photo below and this might make a little more sense.
Our measurement for perimeter will be in feet, so we will need to convert 1 mile into feet also.
1 Mile = 5280 feet.
Now to find the number of laps around a court we just need to divide the number of feet in a mile by the perimeter so we will have the following equation.
Laps per mile = 5280/P or 5280/(2L+2W)
For our standard highschool court which has a length of 84 feet and a width of 50 feet we can now plug the number in as such :
Laps per mile = 5280/(2×84 + 2×50)
= 19.7 laps
Easy right? It probably just took a quick refresher to remember how to calculate perimeter and complete some simple division. One thing that we must remember is that basketball courts for different levels such as high school, college, NBA, FIBA, and others are all different. Now that we have an easy way to calculate laps per mile, let’s take a look at what is for other courts.
Laps per Mile for other courts
Below are the dimensions of other regulation courts. We can use these length and width measurements to calculate the number of laps around these courts also. Note that US college and NBA courts have the same measurement.
Length = 94 ft.
Width = 50 ft.
Laps per mile = 5280/(2×94 + 2×50) = 18.33
Length = 84 ft.
Width = 50 ft.
Laps per mile = 5280/(2×84 + 2×50) = 19.7
Junior High school
Length = 74 ft.
Width = 42 ft.
Laps per mile = 5280/(2×74 + 2×42) = 23.2
FIBA/Olympic (measured in meters so we need to convert to feet)
Length = 28m = 91.9 ft.
Width = 15m = 49.2 ft.
Laps per mile = 5280/(2×91.9 + 2×49.2) = 18.6
There may be other size courts, such as ones in elementary schools and exercise gyms. It’s hard to say what the length and width of these courts are because they are most likely not standard in size. All you need to do is find the length and width and you can now calculate the number of laps needed for a mile.
As you can see, once you know the length and width of the court or any other area that you are planning on running around, you can calculate the number of laps it takes to run a mile. You can even calculate the number of laps needed to run a mile on your own basketball court in your driveway or back yard.
What kind of basketball coach did you have? Did you have to run laps for making mistakes or being late? We’d love to hear your interesting stories.