The Need to Know: Basketball Lingo

With March Madness underway and the NBA regular season almost over, I think it’s about time you all were put onto some basketball terms/lingo:

Assist: A pass that immediately precedes and sets up a scored basket.

Ball Side: The half of the court from the middle to the sideline where the ball is currently located. May also be referred to as the ‘strong side’.

Bench Points: The number of points scored during a game from players that began the game on the bench. All points scored by non-starters.

Blocking: The use of a defender’s body position to illegally prevent an opponent’s advance; the opposite of charging.

Center (Position): Also called the “pivot player;” an offensive position typically played by a tall player who plays mainly in the key areas (at the post).

Charging: A personal foul committed when an offensive player illegally contacts a defensive player who has established position or is stationary.

Double-double: When a player scores double-digits in 2 categories during one game (points, assists and rebounds are most common, but it can also be blocks or steals); a sign of great versatility.

Drive: A quick dribble directly to the basket in an effort to score.

Fast break: An offensive strategy in which a team attempts to move the ball downcourt and into scoring position as quickly as possible so that the defense is outnumbered and does not have time to set up.

Field goal: A basket scored on any shot other than a free throw, worth two or three points depending on the distance of the attempt from the basket.

Flagrant foul: Unnecessary or excessive contact against an opponent.

Free throw: An unguarded shot taken from behind the free-throw line after a foul. If successful, the shot counts one point.

Guard (Position): An offensive position played primarily at the perimeter, or away from the basket.

High percentage shot: A shot that is likely to go in the basket, such as a layup.

In the paint: In the “key” area or free throw lane, so named because this area of the floor is painted.

Jump ball: The procedure for starting play at the beginning of a game or an overtime period. The official tosses the ball into the air between the two opponents positioned at the center-court circle; the two players jump up and try to tap the ball to a teammate.

Jump shot: A shot that is released after the shooter has jumped into the air.

Overtime: An extra period played to break a tie score at the end of a regulation game.

Personal foul: Contact between players that may result in injury or provide one team with an unfair advantage; players may not push, hold, trip, hack, elbow, restrain or charge into an opponent; these are also counted as team fouls.

Point guard (Position): An offensive position played by a guard who usually brings the ball up the court and initiates the offense.

Post (Position): An offensive position played close to the basket along the key.

Screen or screener: The offensive player who stands between a teammate and a defender to gives his teammate the chance to take an open shot.

3-point play:
A made 2-point field goal in which the shooter was fouled, followed by a successful free-throw.

3 seconds: A violation in which an offensive player remains within the key for more than three seconds at a time.

Team fouls: Each personal foul committed by a player is also counted against his team; when a team goes over the limit, its opponent is awarded free-throw opportunities.

Technical foul: A foul that does not involve contact with an opponent; a foul that involves unsportsmanlike conduct by a player, coach or non-player; or a contact foul committed by a player while the ball is dead.

Turnover: A loss of possession of the ball by means of an error or violation.

Upset: When a higher-seeded (better) team loses to a lower-seeded (inferior) one.

Zone defense: A team defense in which each player is responsible for defending an area of the court and the opponents within that area.

Zone offense: An offensive pattern of play designed to attack (score against) a particular zone defense.

Feature image courtesy of Basketball 101


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