Basketball Terms

Glossary of Basketball Terms

The following terms are a glossary of basketball terminology that will improve your understanding of the game read the list below or Download the PDF


1-1 – A “one-and-one” is a set of free throws that is awarded to the team who has been fouled 7,8, or 9 times in one half (NCAA rules). The free throw shooter must make the first shot in order to shoot the second shot.

Air-Ball – a shot that does not hit the rim

Alley-oop – a pass from one teammate to another that results in one player catching the ball in mid-air and dunking

Assist – a pass that leads directly to a score

And-1 – whenever a player is fouled in the act of shooting and makes the shot with the chance to make an additional free-throw

Backboard – the solid piece of glass, plastic, or wood that is attached to the back of the rim and anchors it in place

Backcourt Violation – a team is penalized by loss of possession when the ball crosses back over the half-court line after the ball has initially been advanced beyond half-court line

Backscreen: when a player is facing towards half court and sets a screen for a player diving to the rim. Usually a good backscreen hits the defender in the “back” or on the “blindside”

Bank Shot – a shot that ricochets off the backboard through the rim for a score

Block – to swat, tip, or redirect an opponents shot so they can not score

Blocking Foul – a foul penalized to a defender that steps in front of an offensive player while the defender is still in motion

Box-Out – a technique used to shield an opponent away from the basketball in order to secure a rebound

Bonus – when a team has committed 7,8, or 9 team fouls in a half, the other team is entitled to shoot a 1- and -1 at the free throw line (NCAA rules)

Brick – a shot that clanks off the rim

Charging Foul – an offensive foul usually committed by the dribbler who runs over a set defensive player

Cross-screen: when a player moves across the lane to set a screen (usually this is a player setting a screen for a 4 or 5 man to get inside position)

Defense – an attempt to stop the opposing team from scoring baskets

Double-Bonus – when a team has committed 10+ fouls in a half, the other team is entitled to 2 free throw attempts

Double-Double – a player that records double digit stats in two categories (ex. 12reb and 18pts)

Double-Dribble – a player that dribbles the ball, picks up their dribble, then starts dribbling again is guilty of this infraction which results in a turnover

Downscreen: when a player (usually a 4 or 5 man) sets a screen facing the baseline for another player (usually a 2 or 3 man) to come off the screen either towards the perimeter or into the lane looking to score.

Dribble – to bounce the ball continuously

Dunk – to throw the ball through the hoop while simultaneously grabbing the rim

Fast Break – to attack the opposing team before they can set their defense

Field Goal – to make a basket

Flagrant Foul – also known as an unsportmanlike foul in which a player commits a foul without an attempt to play the ball

Foul – an infraction committed by using illegal physical contact

Four Point Play – to shoot and make a 3pt shot while being fouled, and then make the free throw

Free Throw – a free shot from the free throw line resulting from a foul

Key – the combination of the free throw lane and free throw circle

Kicking Violation – to use ones foot to deflect the ball

Lane – the rectangular area below the free throw line

Lay-Up – a close, simple shot in which a player usually uses the backboard

Perimeter – the area around the 3pt line

Pivot Foot – the foot a player has established as the foot that is anchored to the ground while their other foot is free to move. The pivot foot is established when a player catches the ball or when they pick up their dribble.

Post-Up – the position a player establishes near the key when they are trying to score close to the basket

Rebound – to grab the ball after a missed shot

Rim – the circular piece of iron mounted on the backboard that the basketball is meant to travel through to register a score

Shot-Clock – the time limit that an offensive team has to shoot the ball (NBA, WNBA, and FIBA teams have 24sec, Men’s NCAA teams have 35sec, Women’s teams have 30sec)

Slip: when a player (usually a 4 or 5 man) sets a screen for a teammate but their defender hedges out or helps to cover the player coming off the screen, leaving the screen to “slip” or go to the rim uncovered

Technical Foul – a foul given for unsportsmanlike behavior or various other team infractions (ex. coach or player yelling at a referee, too many players on the court, extracurricular activity after play has stopped, calling timeout when you have none left, illegal substitutions, etc.)

Three-Point-Play – see “And 1”

Travel – to take more than two consecutive steps with the basketball, or to change an established pivot foot

Triple-Double – when a player registers double digit stats in three separate categories (ex. 10reb, 14asst, 20pts)

Turnover – a player that throws an errant pass or loses control of the ball so that the other team gains possession


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