Basketball Words and Terms

ASSIST: A pass by an offensive player that leads directly to a basket.

BACKBOARD: The flat surface to which the basket is attached.

BASKET: The metal ring, 18 inches in diameter, with a net of cord, 15 to 18 inches in length, through which the ball must pass for a score to be recorded.

BOX OUT: The action of a defensive player who blocks an opponent's path to a rebound by standing between the player and the basket.

CENTER: The player who normally plays the pivot and takes part in the center jump.

COURT: The playing area.

DEFENSIVE TEAM: The team without the ball.

DOUBLE DRIBBLE: Dribbling the ball with both hands at the same time, or dribbling, stopping, and then starting again. Double dribble is a violation.

DOUBLE TEAM: To use two defenders to guard an offensive player.

DRIBBLING: Bouncing the ball as you move in any direction.

END LINE: The line at the end of the court that runs the width of the court and joins the two sidelines.

FAST BREAK: The quick movement of the ball downcourt by a team that has gained possession through a defensive rebound.

FORECOURT: The half of the court containing the offensive team's basket.

FORWARD: One of two player who, with the center, normally makes up the front line of a team's offense.

FOUL: Any infraction of the rules. Common fouls include pushing, reaching in, holding, and hitting a player's arm as she's shooting.

FREE THROW: An unhindered shot at the basket from behind the free-throw line that is awarded to a player when an opposing player has committed a foul. A successful free throw is worth one point.

FREE THROW LANE: The area at each end of the court defined by a pair of parallel lines 12 feet apart, the foul line, and the end line. No offensive player may remain within the free-thow lane for more than three seconds.

GUARD: One of two players who are responsible for bringing the ball into the forecourt and starting offensive plays. Guards normally play farthest from the basket.

HELD BALL: A situation in which a player from each team is in possession of the ball at the same time. One team is awarded possession after a held ball is called; the other team gets possession after the next held ball.

LAY-UP: A usually one-handed, banked shot that is made close to the basket.

OFFENSIVE TEAM: The team in possession of the ball

OUTLET PASS: A long pass that triggers a fast break.

PASSING: Throwing the ball from one player to another

PERSONAL FOUL: Charging, hacking, blocking, pushing, elbowing, or other such foul that involves physical contact with an opponent.

PICK: A screen set by a player that enables a teammate to move to the basket with the ball or cut to an open area of the court for a pass.

REBOUND: A missed shot that bounces off the backboard or rim.

STEAL: A play in which a defensive player legally takes the ball from an opponent.

TEN-SECOND RULE: A rule stating that the offensive team must advance the ball across the division line within ten seconds or lose possession.

THREE-SECOND RULE: A rule that states an offensive player cannot remain within the free-throw lane for more than three seconds.

TIP-OFF: The jump ball that starts a period of play.

TRAP: To double-team an opponent with the ball.

TRAVELING: A violation that occurs when a player takes more steps than are allowed while holding the ball or dribbling.

TURNOVER: A play in which the offensive team loses possession of the ball without taking a shot.

VIOLATION: Traveling, double-dribble, or other such infraction of the rules, not including fouls.