Basketball Terms: Picking up a new hobby often results in a learning curve, especially when it comes to learning the lingo surrounding the activity. Basketball is no different. Before your child takes the court for the first time, make sure they’re familiar with these basic terms all players should know.
Like any sport or discipline, basketball has its own language. A novice could listen to two coaches talking to each other and not have any idea of what they are talking about! This is true in almost any subject. Studying to become a doctor, you first have to know the names of all the parts before you can cut ’em out!
How do we come up with all these terms? It is an evolutionary process over the years. An expert coach uses some new term at a basketball camp, and it becomes part of the vernacular. A colorful TV commentator (Al McGuire and his “aircraft carrier”, Dick Vitale, etc) come up with very colorful expressions, and it becomes part of the game, BABY!
Basketball Slang 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 like 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 getting in better rebounding position.
Basketball Terms And Definitions
- 1-2-1-1 Press – A true full-court press with many possible variations. The goal of the press is to trap the basketball immediately after it has been inbounded into play. This allows the defense a lot of time to recover if the offensive team is able to break the press.
- 1-2-2 Zone – A common zone defense similar to a 2-3 zone. This zone defense starts with a player at the top of the key, a player on each elbow, and a player on each low block. All 5 players are responsible for guarding a portion of the three-point line.
- 1-3-1 Zone – A unique and aggressive zone defense that relies on cutting off passing lanes, anticipation, and deflections to create turnovers and fast-break opportunities for your team.
- 2-3 Zone – The 2-3 zone is the most common zone defense coaches will use as an alternative to man-to-man defense. It involves two players at the top of the key guarding above the free-throw line and three players across the key guarding the paint and the sides of the court. This is a very common defense to see in youth basketball (unfortunately) because it crowds the key and forces the opposition to shoot from the perimeter.
- 3-2 Zone – The 3-2 zone is a common zone defense. It involves three players guarding the perimeter and two players inside guarding the key area. This defense is great for challenging perimeter shots but can be exposed inside due to only two defenders protecting the basket.
What Is A Double-Double In Basketball Terms
A double-double is a performance in which a player accumulates a double-digit number total in two of five statistical categories—points, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocked shots—in a game. The most common double-double combination is points and rebounds, followed by points and assists. During the 2008–09 NBA season, 69 players who were eligible for leadership in the main statistical categories recorded at least 10 double-doubles during the season.
Since the 1983–84 season, Tim Duncan leads the National Basketball Association (NBA) in the points–rebounds combination with 841 double-doubles, John Stockton leads the points–assists combination with 714, and Russell Westbrook leads the rebounds–assists combinations with 134. Tim Duncan also holds the record for most total career double-doubles in the NBA, having recorded 841.
What Is A Triple-Double In Basketball Terms
A term used to describe an achievement in which a player records a double-digit total number in a game in three of the following statistical categories: points, total rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks.
Former Cincinnati Royals and Milwaukee Bucks shooting guard Oscar Robertson is the NBA career leader in triple-doubles with 181. He is also the only player to average a triple-double in a single season with 30.8 PPG, 12.5 RPG, and 11.4 APG when he was playing for Cincinnati in 1961-62.
Basketball Court Terms
- Carrying the ball: Also called “palming;” a violation committed by a dribbler that involves placing the dribbling hand under the ball and momentarily holding or carrying it while dribbling.
- Center: Also called the “pivot player;” an offensive position typically played by a tall player who plays mainly in the key areas (at the post).
- Center court circle: The circular area at midcourt from which jump balls are taken.
- Charging: A personal foul committed when an offensive player illegally contacts a defensive player who has established a position or is stationary.
- Chest pass: A two-handed pass is thrown from the passer’s chest in a straight line to the chest area of the receiver.
- Controlling the boards: Securing a majority of the rebounds.
- Conversion: A made basket or free throw.
- Court vision: A player’s ability to see everything on the court during play — such as where his teammates and defenders are set up — which enables him to make better choices in passing; the best players possess this trait.
- Crossover dribble: A dribble in which the ball is moved from one hand to the other while the dribbler changes directions.
- Cut: A quick movement by an offensive player to elude an opponent or to receive the ball.
- Cylinder: The imaginary area directly above the basket where goaltending or basket interference can occur.
- Dead ball: Occurs whenever the whistle blows to stop play and after a field goal, but before the opponent gains possession of the ball.
- Defense: The team not in possession of the ball whose objective is to keep the opponent from scoring; also a specific pattern of play used by a defending team.
- Defensive rebound: A rebound of an opponent’s missed shot.
- Double-double: When a player scores double-digits in 2 categories during one game (points, assists and rebounds are most common, but it can also be blocks or steals); a sign of great versatility.
- Double dribble: A violation that occurs when a player dribbles the ball with two hands simultaneously or stops dribbling and then dribbles again.
- Double foul: A situation in which two opponents commit a foul against each other simultaneously.
- Double team: A defensive tactic in which two defenders temporarily guard one player.
- Downcourt or down the court: The direction a team on offense moves, from its backcourt into its frontcourt and towards its own basket.
- Dribble or dribbling: The process by which a player repeatedly bounces the ball off the floor so that it returns to his/her possession. It’s the only legal means by which a single player may move the ball across the court.
- Drive A quick dribble directly to the basket in an effort to score.
- Dunk: When a player close to the basket jumps and strongly throws the ball down into it; an athletic, creative shot used to intimidate opponents.