Basketball Terms



alley oop = an offensive play in which a player throws the ball up near the basket to a teammate who jumps, catches the ball in mid air and immediately scores a basket, usually with a slam dunk.

assist= a pass to a teammate who scores a basket immediately or after one dribble.


ball hog = a player who does not pass the ball

ball screens = an offensive play in which a player sets a screen on the defender guarding the player with the ball.

bank shot = a shot that hits the backboard before hitting the rim or going through the net.

brick = a missed shot, usually a jumpshot

box out = sealing off the other player with the body in order to gain better position for a rebound

bucket = the basketball hoop or a made shot


charity stripe = free throw line

cherry picking = a defensive player running to his/her basket soon as a missed shot goes up; the ball is thrown down court for an easy score

clank = refers to a missed shot, the sound it makes when the ball hits off the rim

crossover = dribbling the ball quickly from one hand to the other, change of direction

crunch time = the end of a close game


a dagger = a made shot in a pivotal part of the game, a shot that silences the a rowdy crowd or puts the team ahead in the closing moments of a game

a dime = an assist

a double double = getting double figures in two different categories example: 20 points, 10 assists

to drive = dribbling towards the hoop, past the defender


end of quarter = when a quarter ends


fast break = an offensive tactic in which a team attempts to advance the ball and score as quickly as possible,


flagrant foul = an unsportsmanlike foul in which there is no serious attempt to play the ball

forward = one of the three standard player positions. Forwards are primarily responsible for scoring and rebounding

four-point play = a rare play in which a player is fouled while making a three-point shot and then makes the resulting free throw


to hack = to foul


jump shot = shot taken while jumping


key = the free-throw lane and free-throw circle together

kicks = shoes


lane = the free-throw lane.

lay-in = a close-range shot using one hand to tip the ball over the rim

layup = a close-range shot using one hand to bank the ball off the backboard


man in the middle = the center

mid-range jumpshot = a jumpshot taken in between the 3 point line and the painted area

motion offense = offense created through a series of cuts and screens to create the best possible shot, with most or all offensive players moving simultaneously


pass = to throw the ball to a teammate.

penalty = once a team reaches a set number of team fouls in a playing period, varying by governing body, the fouled team gets free throws instead of possession of the ball

perimeter = the area outside the key but well inside the three-point arc

pivot = the pivot center.

point forward = a forward with strong ballhandling and passing skills who can be called on to direct the team’s offense

pickup game = a casual basketball game, usually played in public courts

pump fake = faking the shot by raising the ball as if to shoot and pulling back


rock = basketball


swingman = a player capable of playing either shooting guard or small forward

swat = to hit a ball that an opposing player just shot off course so that it misses completely


technical foul = a foul assessed for unsportsmanlike non-contact behavior and for some procedural violations

three-point field goal = a shot, worth three points, attempted with both feet behind the three-point line

three-pointer = a three-point field goal

triangle offense = an offensive strategy with the goal of exchanging three (sometimes all five) positions, creating spacing among players and allowing each one to pass to four teammates

triple-double = double-digit figures in three positive statistical categories (example: 12 points, 14 rebounds, 10 assists)

turnover = loss of possession


weak side = the side of the court(halfcourt) that the ball is not on


zone defense = a defense in which each player is responsible for a section of the court

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