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Basketball Glossary and Terms

1- History & Object of the Game
2- The Essentials (Offense & Defense, Scoring, etc.)
3- Fouls
4- Court Diagram & Positions
5- Glossary of Basketball Terms


Air ball: A badly missed shot that fails to hit the rim or backboard.

Alley-oop: A pass that is received in mid-air and dunked or laid-up before the player touches the ground.

Assist: A pass that, once received, is immediately shot and scored. Awarded to the player who passes the ball.

Bank shot: A shot that bounces off the backboard and lands in the basket.

Blocked shot: A shot that a defender prevents from scoring by deflecting the ball.

Blocking: Penalty on a defender for stepping in front of an offensive player to impede progress.

Carry over: Violation called when a player moves his hand under the ball and scoops it while dribbling.

Charging: Foul called when an offensive player runs over a defender who has established position. Results in a turnover and one personal foul.

Double dribble: A violation when a player uses both hands to dribble or stops dribbling and begins to dribble again.

Double team: A strategy in which two defenders guard one offensive player simultaneously.

Dribble: To advance with the ball by using one hand to bounce it off the court.

Drive: To cut, with or without the ball, towards the basket.

Dunk: Shot slammed through the basket from above the rim.

Fake: An offensive player uses any part of the body, including the eyes, to deceive a defender. Pretending to shoot is called a pump fake.

Fast break: Quick transition from defense to offense, in which players race to the frontcourt to score before the defense can organize.

Goaltending: When a defender blocks a shot that is descending toward the basket or if the ball is touched directly above the rim. Results in two points for the offense.

Jump ball: When possession is unclear, the referee tosses ball in the air and one player on each team jumps and attempts to tip it toward a teammate.

Jump shot: A shot in which the player jumps and is in mid-air when he releases the ball.

Lay-up: An easy, one-handed shot near the basket that bounces off the backboard and into the basket.

One-and-one: A series of free-throws in which the second free-throw attempt is awarded only if the first is made.

Press: Strategy in which the defense pressures the offense to make mistakes by guarding players closely. Often executed as a “half-court” or “full-court” press.

Rebound: Move in which a player catches the ball, often in mid-air, after a missed shot.

Screen: Move in which a player positions his body to impede a defender and free a teammate. Also called a pick.

Steal: To take possession of the ball from an offensive player who is holding, dribbling, or passing the ball.

Timeout: Teams can stop play several times per half when they have possession of the ball to strategize before resuming play.

Tip-off: A jump ball that is used to start the game.

Traveling: Violation for two or more steps without dribbling the ball.

Turnover: When possession of the ball changes, other than a rebound or following a scored point. Turnovers include: traveling, stolen ball, charging, etc.


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