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