Basketball Terms & Slang 101

There are a lot of basketball terms that people use without knowing what they actually mean. In this blog post, we will define some of the most common basketball terms and explain what they mean. This information can come in handy for anyone who wants to learn more about the game or for those who just want to sound like they know what they’re talking about!

Air ball

A shot that misses the rim, backboard, and net completely.

Double dribble

When a player dribbles the ball with both hands or stops dribbling and then starts again. This is a violation and results in loss of possession.

Box out

When a player positioning themselves between an opponent and the basket, in order to rebound the ball.

Brick

When a shot attempt hits the backboard or rim but does not go in.

The Alley Oop

The basketball Alley Oop is one of the best known plays in basketball history. An Alley Oop is when a player throws the ball up near the basket and another player catches it and scores. The Alley Oop was first used in basketball in the early 1900s, and it has been used by many great basketball players since then. Today, the Alley Oop is still a popular play, and it is often used to score easy points.

Slam Dunk

In basketball, a dunk is a shot that is taken while the player is in mid-air, using one hand to power the ball through the hoop. Dunks are considered to be one of the most exciting plays in basketball, and they have become an essential part of the game.

Dunks were first introduced in the 1950s, but it wasn’t until basketball legend Julius Erving popularized the move in the 1970s that they became truly mainstream. Today, dunks are a common sight in both professional and amateur basketball games. And while there have been many great dunkers throughout history, basketball legend Michael Jordan is widely considered to be the best of all time.

So next time you see a basketball player take off for a thunderous dunk, remember that you’re witnessing a move with rich history and extreme athleticism. It’s no wonder that dunks are some of the most popular plays in basketball today.

Fadeaway

A jump shot taken while the player is moving away from the basket. This is often done in order to create space between the shooter and the defender.

The Pick and Roll

The pick and roll is one of the most commonly used plays in basketball. It involves a player setting a screen (or “pick”) for another player, who then uses the screen to roll towards the basket and score. The pick and roll is an effective way to create easy scoring opportunities, and it can be used in many different situations.

The give-and-go

The give-and-go is a simple but effective play that can be used to create scoring opportunities. It involves two players passing the ball to each other and then making a cutting move towards the basket. The give-and-go is often used to catch the defense off-guard and to create easy scoring chances.

Granny Shot

A free throw shot that is underhanded.

Hook Shot

A shot taken while the player’s body is turned sideways, with the arm extended away from the body and towards the basket. The hook shot is often used to score over taller defenders.

Jumper

A jump shot taken without taking a dribble first. This can be done from anywhere on the court.

Layup

A shot taken while the player is close to the basket and usually involves some type of finger-roll or underhanded shot. Layups are one of the most common and efficient ways to score in basketball.

Swish

Nothing But Net! A swish is when a shot goes in without touching the backboard or the rim as it goes through the basket.

Traveling

A violation that occurs when a player takes more than two steps without dribbling the ball. Traveling results in loss of possession.

Zone Defense

A type of defense where each player is responsible for guarding a specific area or “zone” on the court. Zone defenses are often used to slow down the opposing team’s offense and to force them into taking long, contested shots.

Backboard

The board at the back of the basketball hoop. The backboard is used to keep the ball in play and to give players a surface to shoot off of.

Bank Shot

A shot that hits the backboard before going through the hoop. Bank shots are often used to score when the player is not close to the basket.

dribble

To bounce the ball on the ground while moving. Dribbling is the only way to move the ball in basketball.

Foul

A infraction that results in a stoppage of play and usually a free throw or possession for the other team. Fouls can be committed by players on both offense and defense. There are many different types of fouls in basketball, each with its own set of rules.

Free Throw

A shot taken from the free throw line after a foul has been committed. Free throws are worth one point each.

Jump Ball

A method used to start the game or to restart play after a stoppage. A jump ball is when two players jump up and try to tap the ball to their team. The player who taps the ball is awarded possession.

Possession

The right of a team to have the ball and attempt to score. Possession can be gained by shooting the ball through the basket, getting a rebound, or forcing a turnover.

Shot Clock

A clock that counts down from 24 or 30 seconds, depending on the level of play. The shot clock is used to limit the amount of time a team has to shoot the ball. If a team does not attempt a shot before the shot clock expires, they will lose possession.

Three-pointer

A shot taken from beyond the three-point line. Three-pointers are worth three points.

Turnover

When the ball changes possession without being shot. Turnovers can be caused by turnovers, steals, or out-of-bounds violations.

double dribble

A violation that occurs when a player dribbles the ball with both hands or stops dribbling and then starts again. Double dribbling results in loss of possession.

Dribble Drive Motion Offense

An offensive system that is predicated on constant movement and dribble penetration. The goal of the dribble drive motion offense is to create easy scoring chances by getting the ball into the paint and kicking it out to open shooters.

Eurostep

A move used by players to avoid defenders while driving to the basket. The Eurostep is a two-step move where the player takes one step in one direction and then quickly takes another step in another direction.

Pump Fake

A fake used to get a defender in the air. Pump fakes are often used to create space for a shot or to draw a foul.

Spin Move

A move used by players to avoid defenders while driving to the basket. The spin move is when the player takes one step in one direction and then quickly spins in another direction.

Up and Under Move

A move used by players to avoid defenders while driving to the basket. The up and under move is when the player takes one step in one direction and then quickly jumps up and over the defender.

Flagrant Foul

A flagrant foul is a personal foul that is committed with excessive or violent contact. Flagrant fouls result in a free throw for the opposing team, as well as possession.

Technical Foul

A technical foul is any infraction that does not involve contact with another player. Technical fouls can be called for unsportsmanlike conduct, delay of game, or other infractions.

Foul Shot

A shot taken from the free throw line after a foul has been committed. Foul shots are worth one point each.

Now that you know some of the most common basketball terms, you can sound like a true expert the next time you’re watching a game! And who knows, maybe you’ll even be able to understand some of the jargon used by commentators and analysts. Either way, knowledge is power, so make sure to brush up on your basketball terms before your next game day gathering.

Do you know all of these basketball terms? What’s your favorite term? Let us know in the comments below! And be sure to check out our other blog posts on basketball terms and their definitions. Thanks for reading!