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Basketball Terms – Glossary
To become familiar with basketball terminology can be a challenge for all new players and parents/guardians. This list will help you become familiar with the basic terms.
Airball: A shot at the basket that misses everything and doesn’t touch the rim, backboard or net.
Alley-Oop: When one player jumps and catches a pass from another player and simultaneously dunks the ball or shoots it in before landing.
And One: When a player gets fouled while shooting and the ball goes in. The player then gets one free throw.
Assist: A statistic that occurs when a player passes the ball to someone who scores after receiving the pass. The passing player earns an assist in the stat sheet.
Backboard: The rectangular piece of wood or fiberglass the rim is attached to.
Backdoor: An offensive action in which a player without the ball cuts behind a defender and toward the basket.
Bank Shot: When a player shoots the ball and it bounces off the backboard and into the hoop.
Block (action): A statistic that occurs when a defensive player stops an offensive player from making a shot by blocking the ball with his or her hand(s).
Block (area of court): The area just outside of the key in which the rectangular blocks are painted. Also referred to as the post.
Box Out: When a shot goes up, players use this technique, which involves widening their stance and arms and using their body as a barrier to get in better rebounding position.
Carry: This penalty, which results in a turnover, occurs when a player holds the ball excessively at the apex while dribbling.
Charge: This penalty, which results in a turnover, occurs when an offensive player with the ball runs into a stationary defensive player and knocks him or her over.
Double Dribble: This penalty, which results in a turnover, occurs when a player dribbles the ball with both hands. It also occurs when a player dribbles, stops dribbling, and then begins to dribble again.
Elbow: The area of the court where the free throw line meets the side of the key or paint.
Fast Break: An offensive action where a team attempts to advance the ball and score as quickly as possible after a steal, blocked shot or rebound.
Flop: When a player attempts to draw a foul on an opposing player by acting, fabricating or over-exaggerating the extent of contact.
Free Throw: A free shot given to a player after a foul or a technical foul. The player shoots from the 15-foot free throw line while the rest of the players line up along the outside of the key.
Key: The painted area that makes up the free throw lane. Also referred to as the paint.
Lay-Up: A shot taken close to the hoop, usually when a player is moving toward the basket.
Man-to-Man: A defensive strategy in which each player on the defensive team guards one person on the opposing team.
One and One: When a team has reached the initial foul limit, or the bonus, the next player to get fouled will receive one free throw. If the player makes the free throw, he or she shoots an additional free throw. This occurs in youth, high school and college basketball only.
Outlet: An offensive strategy in which a player who gathers a defensive rebound passes to a teammate in an attempt to quickly begin the next possession.
Paint: The painted area that makes up the free throw lane. Also referred to as the key.
Post: The area just outside of the key in which the rectangular blocks are painted. Also referred to as the block.
Press: A defensive strategy where the defenders guard the opposing team the full length of the court instead of waiting on the opposite side for the offense to come across.
Post Up: An offensive strategy in which a player gets the ball in the post area with his or her back to the basket.
Rebound: When a player from either team retrieves the ball and gains possession after a missed shot.
Screen: An offensive strategy in which a player without the ball stands in the way of a defensive player. The offensive player must remain stationary during the process, or a moving screen will be called and the result will be an offensive foul and a turnover.
Swish: A made basket where the ball avoids the rim and touches nothing but the net, creating a “swish” sound.
Three in the Key: A penalty, which results in a turnover, where an offensive player stands inside the key or the paint area for three seconds.
Travel: A penalty, which results in a turnover, where an offensive player moves his or her pivot foot illegally or takes three steps without dribbling the ball.
Turnover: When the offensive team loses possession of the ball by way of an offensive foul, steal or out-of-bounds violation.
Zone Defense: A defensive strategy in which players guard a specific zone or area of the court instead of a specific player on the opposing team.
Get to know basketball by learning the game through our easy to understand game cards (coming soon). The game cards will be broken down into 4 basic building blocks, to learn the foundations of basketball, which include:
- Passing & Catching
- Movement & Footwork
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