Basketball Terminology

In order to contribute to basketball conversations, you’ll need to learn the language. Below is a list of the most common basketball terms and phrases alongside their definitions.

Assist: A pass directly leading to a made basket.

Block: Touching a ball before it reaches the hoop, preventing a made basket.

Blocking: A foul committed by obstructing an offensive player with your body.

Boxing out: Using your body to prevent another player from gathering a rebound.

Center: Typically the tallest player on the court who plays closest to the basket.

Charging: A personal foul for when an offensive player runs over a stationary defensive player.

Crossover: Switching the ball from one hand to the other while dribbling.

Defense: The team without possession of the ball.

Dribbling: Bouncing the ball off the floor repeatedly without picking it up.

Dunk: When a player jumps and throws the ball through the hoop from close range.

Field goal: When the ball goes through the hoop on any shot other than a free throw, worth either two or three points.

Forward: The 2nd tallest players on the floor after the Center.

Free throw: A shot awarded after a player is fouled, worth one point.

Guard: The smaller players on the court who handle the ball most and play away from the basket.

Key: The painted area close to the basket.

Offense: The team in possession of the ball.

Pass: To throw the ball to one’s teammates.

Rebound: To gather the ball after a missed shot.

Shot: An attempt to throw the ball into the hoop.

Three-point-line: The semi-circle surrounding the key. Shots made from beyond this line count for three points.

Traveling: A violation for moving without dribbling the ball.

Turnover: When a team loses possession of the ball.


Sources: Hoops U


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