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Learn How To Talk Like A Basketball Pro

Were you ever watching a Celtics game and wondered what the announcers were talking about? Basketball has it’s own “language,” which can sometimes be confusing. Below is a list of common terms that will help you get more familiar with the game.


ASSIST Any pass that leads directly to a basket by a teammate.
BACK COURT The half of the court that includes the basket a team is defending.
BALL HANDLING Refers to dribbling, passing, or receiving the ball.
BASELINE The end line running from sideline to sideline.
BLOCK OUT A technique used to gain and maintain position between the basket and the opponent in order to rebound the ball.
BOUNCE PASS A pass that strikes the floor once before reaching the receiver.
CHARGE A personal foul in which an offensive player illegally runs into an opponent who is stationary, having established position.
CHEST PASS A two-handed pass initiated from in front of the chest toward a receiver.
CONTROL DRIBBLE A low dribble used when the dribbler is closely guarded. The ball is protected by the dribbler's body, which is between the defensive player and the ball.
DEFENSE Refers to the team without the ball, whose objective is to keep the opposition from scoring.
DEFENSIVE REBOUND Gaining possession of an opponent's unsuccessful shot attempt.
DOUBLE DRIBBLE A violation in which a player dribbles the ball with two hands simultaneously, or continues to dribble after allowing the ball to come to rest in one or both hands.
DRIBBLING The act of bouncing the ball.
DRIVE A quick, accelerated movement executed by an offensive player toward the basket by means of a dribble.
FAKING A technique designed to cause an opponent to move in a particular direction, or to temporarily freeze.
FAST BREAK An offensive strategy in which a team attempts to bring the ball into scoring position before the defense can set up.
FOLLOW THROUGH The act of finishing one's shooting motion after the release of the ball.
FOUL SHOT An unobstructed shot from behind the foul shot line, awarded as a result of a foul by an opponent and valued at one point if scored. Also called a free throw.
FOUL An infraction or infringement of the rules involving contact, which may result in the awarding of free throws or possession of the ball.
FRONT COURT The half of the playing court that contains a team's offensive basket.
GIVE AND GO A play in which the ball-handler passes to a teammate, then breaks to the basket to receive a return pass.
HALFCOURT One of the two halves of the court on either side of the centre line.
HALFTIME The rest period between the two halves of the game.
JUMP BALL A method of putting the ball into play by tossing it into the air between two opponents who jump and attempt to tap the ball to a teammate outside the circle.
JUMP SHOT A shot in which the ball is released near or at the peak of the jump.
KEY The area bounded by the free throw line, end line, and sides of the free throw area. Also called free throw lane.
LAY-UP

A shot made from close to the basket off the dribble.

OFFENSE Refers to the team with the ball that is trying to score.
OFFENSIVE READY POSITION Balanced position by a player ready to receive the ball or initiate movement in any direction.
PASS A ball thrown from one player to a teammate.
PIVOT FOOT

The foot on which the player pivots, and which must remain in contact with the floor in one place while the player pivots without dribbling.

REBOUND A missed shot that caroms off the rim or the backboard.
SHOOTING The act of projecting the ball toward the basket in an attempt to score.
SPEED DRIBBLE This dribble is used when a player is running near top speed in an uncongested area with little defensive pressure (i.e. fast break).
TRAVELING A violation in which the player with the ball lifts or drags the pivot foot without dribbling.
WARM UP Exercises before a game and during half time to prepare players for action.