Glossary of Basketball Terms & Definitions
Attention all hoopsters and ballers, it’s time to lace up your sneakers and hit the court because we’re about to take your basketball knowledge to the next level! If you’re looking to boost your basketball IQ, this glossary of basketball terms and definitions will have you slam-dunking your way to the top of the game.
From pick-and-rolls and alley-oops to jump shots and fast breaks, basketball is an exciting sport full of lingo that can be confusing for even the most seasoned spectators. But fear not, because Bovada Sportsbook is here to help you understand all the jargon, so you can talk the talk and walk the walk on the court. This basketball glossary will cover all the key terms you’ll hear when watching an NBA game or even college hoops.
Think you know what a “travel” is? How about a “rebound,” or a “double dribble?” We’ll break down these terms and more, giving you the insider knowledge you need to impress friends and foes alike. Whether you’re just a fan who loves to watch games from the comfort of your living room or a basketball player who lives and breathes the game, this glossary is for you. So grab your ball, throw on your favorite jersey and let’s dive in to the world of basketball terminology!
Basketball Terms Explained
Alley Oop – A basketball term used to describe a play where one player throws the ball up towards the basket and another player jumps up to catch it and slam it through the hoop in one motion.
And-One – Used to describe a situation where a player is fouled while making a field goal, but still manages to score. The player who made the basket is then awarded an additional free throw attempt, giving them the opportunity to convert a three-point play.
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Double Dribble – A violation in basketball that occurs when a player dribbles the ball with both hands or stops dribbling, and then begins to dribble again. If a player commits a double dribble violation, the opposing team is awarded possession of the ball.
Dribbling – The act of bouncing the ball on the court with one hand. Dribbling is one of the fundamental skills of basketball, as it allows a player to move the ball up the court and around defenders.
Fast Break – A quick offensive play where the team moves the ball up the court before the defense can set up. Fast breaks are an exciting and effective way to score in basketball, as they allow a team to catch the defense off-guard and create easy scoring opportunities.
Free Throw – An unguarded shot taken from the free-throw line after a foul has been committed. Free throws are a key part of basketball, as they are often used as a way to punish fouls and determine the outcome of close games.
Full Court Press – A defensive strategy in basketball where the defensive team applies pressure to the opposing team’s ball handler for the entire length of the court, from the baseline to the opposite baseline.
Jump Shot – A shot taken while jumping into the air. Jump shots are a common type of shot in basketball, as they allow a player to shoot over defenders and create space for themselves. There are many variations of the jump shot, including the pull-up jumper, the fadeaway, and the step-back.
Layup – A shot taken close to the basket where the player uses one hand to roll the ball off the backboard. Layups are a high-percentage shot that are often used in fast break situations or when a player drives to the basket.
Man-to-Man Defense – A defensive strategy in basketball where each player is responsible for guarding a specific player on the opposing team. This defense is often used against teams that rely heavily on individual play and isolation, but can be vulnerable to good ball movement and lead to fatigue if players are constantly chasing their opponents.
Pick and Roll – A common offensive play in basketball where a player sets a screen for the ball-handler and then rolls to the basket. The pick and roll is a versatile play that can be used to create scoring opportunities for the ball-handler or the roller, depending on how the defense reacts.
Post Up – A basketball term that refers to an offensive player positioning themselves near the hoop, typically with their back to the basket, using their body to create space in order to receive a pass from a teammate.
Rebound – Collecting the ball after a missed shot. There are two types of rebounds: offensive rebounds, where the rebounder collects a missed shot by their own team, and defensive rebounds, where the rebounder collects a missed shot by the opposing team.
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Screen – A legal block by an offensive player to impede the progress of a defender. Commonly referred to as a ‘pick’, screens are often used to free up a teammate for a shot or to create space for the ball-handler. However, illegal screens can result in a foul being called on the offensive player.
Slam Dunk – A shot where the player jumps and slams the ball through the hoop. Dunks are one of the most exciting plays in basketball, as they demonstrate a player’s athleticism and power. There are many types of dunks, including the one-handed dunk, the two-handed dunk, and the reverse dunk.
Swish – A basketball term used to describe a shot that goes through the basket without touching the rim or backboard. Swishes are often accompanied by a distinct sound, a satisfying “swish” noise, which can be heard throughout the arena.
Travel – A violation in basketball that occurs when a player moves their pivot foot or takes too many steps without dribbling the ball. This common violation leads to a change in possession, with the defensive team being awarded the ball.
Zone Defense – A defensive strategy in basketball where each player is responsible for guarding a specific area of the court instead of an individual player. The most common types of zone defenses are the 2-3 zone and the 3-2 zone, where the numbers refer to the number of players in each row and column of the zone.