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Top 30 Basketball Terms You May or May Not Know

  1. Airball A shot that doesn’t touch the rim, backboard or net.
  2. And One When a player gets fouled while shooting and the shot is successful. The player receives a one foul shot.
  3. Ankle Breaker – Occurs when offensive player is dribbling and guarded by a defender. The ball handler uses a dribbling move that results in defender stumbling or falling over.
  4. AssistWhen a player passes the ball to someone who scores. The passing player receives an assist in the stat sheet.
  5. Backdoor- An offensive action by a player without the ball. The player cuts behind a defender and toward the basket.
  6. Bank Shot- When a player shoots the ball and it bounces off the backboard and into the hoop.
  7. Box Out –After a shot is attempted, its important that players box out to secure a rebound. The boxing out action involves making contact with the player of the opposing team and positioning yourself between them and the basket. Hence player who boxes out is in a better position to secure a rebound.
  8. Crossover –Action performed by player with the ball and involves dribbler moving the ball from one hand to the over. This is a common dribbling move and is used to change direction quickly.
  9. Cut –Action performed by offensive player without ball. This action involves a quick sprint that can involve changing directions and usually occurs when moving towards the hoop. This creates an opportunity for player to receive a pass.
  10. Defence –The team on defence is the team without the basketball. The aim of defence is to stop the opposing team from scoring. The two most common styles of defence are man-to- man and zone, which can both occur in full court and half court.
  11. Drive and Kick –An offensive action involving a player dribbling towards the keyway, forcing a defender to shift. As a result, the offensive player can pass to an open teammate.
  12.  Fast Break- An offensive action when the team advance the ball up the court as quickly as possible to attack the defence before they have time to establish good defensive position.
  13. Finger Roll –A sophisticated style of layup that involves a player’s palm up facing the sky and rolling the basketball of the tips of their fingers.
  14. Free Throw- A free shot given to a player after a foul. The player shoots from the free throw line while the rest of the players line up along the outside of the key and three point line.
  15. Jab Step –Player takes a quick step towards the basket while keeping their pivot foot planted. The jab step is used to trick defensive player and create time and space for the offensive player.
  16. Lay-Up- The most common style of shot in basketball, action includes player taking two steps as they approach the hoop.
  17. Man-to-Man- A defensive strategy, player on the defensive team guards one person on the opposing team. This style of defence can occur in the half or full court.
  18. One and One– When a team has reached the initial foul limit, or the bonus, the next player to get fouled will receive one free throw. If the player makes the free throw, he or she shoots an additional free throw. This occurs in youth, high school and college basketball only.
  19.  Outlet– An offensive strategy, the player who gets the defensive rebound passes to a teammate in an attempt to start the next offensive possession.
  20. Offense –The team on offense is the team with the basketball. While on offense, the team will attempt to score.
  21.  PostThe area on the court located outside of the key, near the block or rectangular painted area.
  22.  Press A high pressure defensive strategy, defenders extend defence for the full length of court and usually defend an area (zone principals) rather than one player (man-to-man).
  23.  Post Up– An offensive strategy in which a player gets the ball in the post area with his or her back to the basket.
  24. Rebound– When a player from either team retrieves the ball and gains possession after a missed shot.
  25. Screen– An offensive strategy involving two offensive players. Player one (screener) will stand in the way of player two’s defender creating an offensive advantage. The screener must stand stationary during process.
  26.  Swish –A successful shot that doesn’t hit anything except the net, creating a ‘swish’ sound.
  27.  Strong Side –When splitting the court in half vertically (basket to basket), the strong side is the side of the court the basketball is located on.
  28.  Turnover-When the offensive team loses possession of the ball by way of a forced error, offensive foul, steal or out-of-bounds violation.
  29.  Transition –The change from offense to defence or defence to offense involving a shift of possession.
  30. Zone Defence– A defensive strategy, players guard a specific area of the court instead of a player on the opposing team.

By Jo Milling