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Jargon Buster Directory  

The Central Source for all Jargon

Sports - Basketball

Basketball jargon

Air Ball - Describes an outside shot that completely misses everything: the backboard, rim and net.


Backboard (or Glass) - The wooden or glass board on which the basket hangs. It is used for bank shots.


Backcourt and Frontcourt - The names for the half-court areas in which the two teams play defense and offense respectively. One team’s frontcourt is the opposing team’s backcourt.


Baseline - The out-of-bounds line at either end of the court under each basket.


Block (or Rejection) - Occurs on a shot in which a defender swats the ball away before it descends toward the basket.


Bounce Pass - A pass made by skipping the ball off the court to a teammate.


Double Dribble - Once a player stops dribbling, he or she must pass or shoot the ball before dribbling again. Also, players may not have two hands on the ball at the same time while dribbling. Either violation of this rule results in a turnover.


Dribbling - Players control and move the ball using one hand at a time to bounce it along the court. Dribbling is one way players control the action of play.


Fake - A player moves his or her shoulder, head, or body to draw a defender in one direction, and then moves in the opposite direction. Players may also pump fake the ball when shooting.


Fast Break - When the team on offense quickly moves the ball up the court before the opposing team can set up in their defensive position.


Field Goal (or Basket) - A shot through the hoop (other than a free throw). A basket scores either two or three points.


Fouled Out - If a player commits a certain number of fouls in a game (usually five or six fouls per player), he or she is removed from play.


Give-and-go - An offensive maneuver in which a player passes to a teammate, then moves quickly past his or her defender to receive a return pass and shoot a lay-up.


Inbound - The playing area of the court. A ball is passed inbounds after a field goal or any time after the ball goes out of play.


Intentional Foul - Usually occurs when a team is trailing near the end of the game and wants to stop the clock. A player will intentionally foul an opposing player in hopes of getting the ball back after a missed free throw.


Jump Ball (or Tip-off) - Starts the game at center court. The referee tosses the ball up between the two centers who jump to tip it toward a teammate. A jump ball is also called when two opposing players have simultaneous possession of the ball. In some leagues the ball is then given to teams in alternating sequence.


The Key (or Paint) - The court area made up of the free-throw lanes, the free throw line, and the free-throw circle.


Loose Ball Foul - Called by the referee when a personal foul occurs while the ball is not controlled by either team.


Man-to-man - A defensive formation in which each defensive player guards a specific offensive player.


One-and-one - A sequence in which a player shoots a free throw and, upon making it, gets to shoot one more.


Perimeter (or Three-point Line) - The semicircle line on the court enclosing the basket and key. Field goals made from beyond this line are worth three points.


Pick - An offensive maneuver in which a player uses his or her body as a screen to block a defender thereby enabling a teammate to get open for a pass or a shot.


Press - A full-court or half-court pressure defense in which the offense is covered very tightly as it tries to bring the ball from the backcourt into the frontcourt. The press often causes turnovers because it forces rushed, sloppy passes.


Rebound - Term that describes when a player grabs and controls the ball as it comes off the basket after a missed shot.


Shot Clock - Within a specified time from when a player inbounds the ball, a shot must be taken and the ball must touch at least the rim. Failure to do so results in a turnover. Depending on the league, the shot clock is set at 24-, 30-, or 45-seconds.


Steal - When a defender takes the ball away from an offensive player.


Team Fouls - The number of total personal fouls either team is permitted in each period or half. Once a team reaches its limit of team fouls, any additional foul sends the opposing team to the free throw line to shoot a one-and-one.


Trap (or Double Team) - When two defensive players simultaneously cover an offensive player with the ball in an attempt to prevent him or her from passing.


Traveling (or Walking) - Called when a player with the ball takes too many steps or moves both feet without dribbling. This violation results in a turnover.


Turnover - When possession of the ball switches from one team to the other.


Zone Defense - A defensive setup in which players cover particular court areas, as opposed to covering man-to-man.





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