- Joystick: Use the joystick to control the player on your team who is currently in possession of the ball, or the player who is outlined in a blinking light while on defense. Every player can be directed to run in eight different directions on the court, including the four cardinal directions and the four diagonal direction.
- Dribble: In order to run with the ball, it is necessary to dribble. Tap the dribble button to ensure that the player with the ball keeps bouncing it off the floor. If the player ever stops dribbling, he must shoot or pass the ball. If you attempt to dribble the ball a second time, the referee will call you out for double dribbling.
- On defense, press the dribble button to attempt to steal the ball away from an opponent who has possession of the ball. If you are too aggressive, you may get called for a Pushing violation.
- Pass: Press this button to pass the ball from one player to another. The player you pass to will be determined by a combination of which players are closest to you and direction in which you hold the joystick. As long as the path is clear, your teammate will grab the ball, but if an opponent is in the way, they will steal it from you.
- On defense, press the pass button to change the currently selected defender to the teammate who is closest to the ball.
- Shoot: When you are ready to score points, press and hold the Shoot button down. Your player will leap up into the air. Release the Shoot button at the height of your jump to release the ball and send it to the hoop. If you shoot from inside the 3-point line while standing still, you will perform a simple 2 point throw. A shot thrown from outside the 3-point line is less likely to go in, but will be worth 3 points if it is successful. If you take a shot while running right up to the basket, it may be considered a slam dunk, in which case you will be shown one of five "zoomed in" slam dunk performances, before determining if your shot was successful. If you do not release the Shoot button by the time you land, you will be called for Traveling.
- On defense, press the shoot button to jump up in the air, in an attempt to block the shot being thrown by your opponent, or to catch the rebound before anyone else has a chance to. Timing is critical.
- Shooting from the free throw line initiates a moving circle to appear above the hoop. The closer the circle is to the hoop when you release the Shoot button, the more likely the ball is to go in.
- 1 - 2 players: Press either button to begin a one or two player game. See below for information about time and credits.
Credits purchased in the arcade version are used to buy time. After every minute of play, the player must insert another credit if they wished to continue when the score was tied or the computer is ahead. However, if the player is ahead, a "free" minute is earned. Many average players can earn the first free minute, but this becomes increasingly more difficult to do as making 3-point shots becomes virtually impossible over the course of gameplay.
Several positions on the court were 'hot spots,' high-percentage areas where shots-taken were likely to score points. For example: it is easier to hit a 3-pointer on the bottom right-hand side of the screen. A player could start a 3-point jump shot from the top right or left corner of the court inbound, and continue the jump out of bounds and even slightly behind the hoop and it would go in nearly every time. Another nearly guaranteed shot is taken with the player standing 3-quarters length of the court away from their goal could go for a running 3-point shot, provided that the shot button was pressed within the other team's free throw shooting circle.
Some violations result in throw-ins from the edge of the court, while personal fouls result in two free throws worth one point each.
- Double Dribbling: Dribbling the ball, than ceasing to dribble the ball, and then dribbling the ball once again instead of shooting or passing.
- Traveling: Pressing and holding Shoot to jump up and down with the ball without releasing Shoot to throw the ball to the hoop.
- Out of bounds: Throwing or passing the ball to some region outside of the court.
- 5 Second Violation: Failing to pass the ball in on a throw-in within 5 seconds.
- 10 Second Violation: Failing to leave your half of the court and enter the opponents half within 10 seconds of possession of the ball.
- 24 Second Violation: Failing to shoot the ball to the hoop within 24 seconds of possession of the ball.
- Backpass: Passing or even dribbling the ball back across the half-court line to your own half of the court after you first cross.
- Pushing: A personal foul where aggressively attempting to steal the ball causes you to push the opponent down.
- Blocking: A personal foul where you interfere with an opponent while they are attempting to shoot the ball.