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Basketball glossary

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24-second violation
Inability of a team to shoot and hit the rim before the shot clock expires.
Obtaining a minimum of 5 in all positive stat categories (points, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks).


air ball 
An unblocked shot that fails to hit the rim or backboard. If the shooting teams grabs the rebound, the shot clock (if there is one) will not be reset.
alley oop 
An offensive play in which a player throws the ball up near the basket to a teammate (or, more rarely, to himself) who jumps, catches the ball in mid air and immediately scores a basket, usually with a slam dunk.
Passing the ball to a teammate who immediately scores a basket after receiving a pass. The teammate that receives the pass may take one dribble before shooting.


ball hog 
Someone that does not pass the ball
buzzer beater 
A field goal in the final seconds of a game (right before the buzzer sounds) that in itself results in a win or overtime.
backcourt violation 
If you already passed the halfcourt line you can not go backcourt. Also failure to bring the ball from the backcourt into the frontcourt within the allotted time (8 seconds NBA, previously 10 seconds in the NBA, and 10 seconds in other).
A rebound.
broken line 
The term for making sure the opposing team doesn't score, does not get "cash" (as listed below in section: C).


Term used when a player makes a shot.
One of the three standard player positions, centers are usually the tallest player on the team and are responsible for defending the basket and rebounding.
circus shot
A seemingly impossible or incredibly awkward shot that goes in.
crescent cut
A cut where the offensive player runs in an arc instead of sharply changing direction. Usually this cut starts opposite the player with the ball and moves toward the ball and then to the basket.


An assist.
a steal that leads to a quick turnover and score.
An assist.
double double
When a player gets two stats in double digits, ex, 15 points 10rebounds.
double dribbling
Dribbling the ball with two hands at the same time or dribbling, stopping, and then beginning to dribble again.
The area on the offensive side of the three-point line.
dribble drive motion 
An offense that spreads the players to open up the lane for driving player to make a layup or kick out for a three pointer.
The act of bouncing the ball continuously, and it is a requirement for a player to take steps with the ball.
A type of shot that is performed when a player jumps in the air and manually powers the ball through the basket with one or both of his hands.


end of quarter 
when a quarter ends
Europe's second-level transnational club competition; the qualifying rounds are operated by FIBA Europe, while the competition proper is operated by ULEB. Analogous to the UEFA Cup, soon to be renamed the UEFA Europa League, in football.
Europe's top transnational club competition, also operated by ULEB. Analogous to the UEFA Champions League in football.


fast break 
An offensive strategy in basketball in which a team attempts to advance the ball up court and move into scoring position as quickly as possible, so that the defense is outnumbered and does not have time to set up. Fast breaks are often the result of good defensive play such as a steal or a block, where the defending team takes possession of the ball while the other team has not adjusted.
The International Basketball Federation, an association of national organizations which governs international competitions.
flagrant foul 
A foul that concerns serious unsportsmanlike personal contact with an opponent on the court.
One of the three standard player positions, forwards are primarily responsible for scoring and rebounding. See Small forward and Power forward.
four-point play 
A situation, similar to a three-point play, where a player is fouled but completes a three point shot, sending them to the free throw line with the opportunity to convert a three-point play into four. Since players are taught to be cautious when defending players behind the perimeter, this situation is rare.
free throw 
An unopposed attempt to score a basket, worth one point, from the free throw line. Generally, two attempts are awarded when the player is fouled in the act of shooting (three attempts are awarded in the case of three point shot), fouled flagrantly, or when the opposing team fouls while over the foul limit. One attempt is awarded for technical fouls.
actions by players which break the rules but are not floor violations; penalized by a change in possession or free-throw opportunities; see personal foul or technical foul.


A defensive strategy in basketball. The strategy consisted of intentionally committing a personal foul against a player, who performs poorly on free throw shooting. If this strategy is employed over a period of time, it could potentially hinder the scoring ability of the opposing team. This technique was commonly used on Shaquille O'Neal.
Occurs after the conclusion of the first two quarters.


A shot that appears to be sailing in, but doesn't drop.


jump shot 
a shot made while jumping


lay up 
A field goal attempt made by below, laying the ball up near the basket, and using one hand to tip the ball over the rim and into the basket (layin) or to bank it off the backboard and into the basket (layup).


Memphis Attack 
Another name for dribble drive motion.
motion offense 
Offense created through a series of cuts and screens to create the best possible shot, with most or all offensive players moving simultaneously.


The National Basketball Association, the largest professional league in the United States.


offensive foul
A rule violation committed by a member of the team playing offense.
outlet pass
one trillion
Denotes a player who has played one minute without recording any other statistic
A violation that occurs when the offensive team lets the ball cross the center line back into their own half-court after already establishing a presence in the offensive half-court. Only a violation by NCAA rules, not other leagues.


when a player throws the ball to a teammate; used to start plays, move the ball downcourt, keep it away from defenders and get it to a shooter.
a center; also the foot that must remain touching the floor until a ball handler who has stopped dribbling is ready to pass or shoot.


rip a C
A motion used while chinning the ball to create space during a pivot between an offensive player and a defensive player. Pivot towards the defender and rips the ball in a C-shape away from the pressure to create a passing lane.
A certain amount of time that one team scores without the other team scoring.
Obtaining the ball after a missed field goal attempt
the ball


setting a screen 
A legal attempt by an offensive player to stop an opponent from guarding a teammate, by standing in the defender's way such that the teammate cuts next to him, blocking the defender. The teammate is now open to receive a pass, make a shot or cut to the basket. The player setting the pick must remain stationary; a moving screen is illegal and may result in an offensive foul. Also called a "pick".
set shot
A field goal that is shot from a stationary position.
shot clock
A timer designed to increase the pace (and subsequently, the score) in basketball games, preventing the tactic of killing the clock. The offensive team must attempt a field goal before the shot clock expires, and the ball must then either touch the rim or enter the basket. Failure to hit the rim or make a shot within the time given (24 seconds in the NBA) would result in loss of possession.
when the ball does not hit the back board or rim. It's all net.


technical foul 
A foul most commonly associated with unsportsmanlike non-contact behavior. However, some procedural violations are also technical fouls. The term is frequently abbreviated to simply "tech."
three-point field goal 
A shot attempted anywhere from behind the three-point line of the defending team that, if successful, is worth three points.
A term for when a player makes a 3 pointer.
three-point play 
A situation where a player is fouled but completes the basket, sending them to the free throw line with the opportunity to convert a two-point play into three. The phrase "and one" is also commonly used by commentators.
toilet bowl 
When the ball hits the rim on a certain angle and goes in a circular motion around it, can go in or out.
A violation that occurs when a player holding the ball illegally moves one or both of his feet without dribbling.
triangle offense 
An offensive strategy in basketball. The goal of the offense is to fill in all five position, which creates good spacing between players and allows each one to pass to four teammates. Every pass, cut, and screen has a purpose and everything is dictated by the defense.
When a player amasses double figures in three positive statistical categories (example: 12 points, 14 rebounds, 10 assists)
When a player from one team gives possession to a member of another team by losing the ball. This can result from getting stolen, making mistakes such as stepping out or throwing the ball out of bounds, committing a violation (such as traveling) or committing an offensive foul.


A cooperative organization of professional basketball leagues in Europe, this body operates the Euroleague and Eurocup. The name is a French acronym for "Union of European Leagues of Basketball".


An act or instance of breaking a law or regulation


The Women's National Basketball Association, the largest professional basketball league for women in the United States.


zone defense

When one player defends one section of the court



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Published - January 2009

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