Huddlecourt Blog Forum Journal Page NBA Playbook Referees
NBA Playbook Referees

Glossary of Basketball Terms

Basketball is a popular sport worldwide, and as with any sport, it has its own unique terminology. This glossary provides an overview of some of the most commonly used basketball terms.

Basic Terms


A basket is the hoop and net that a basketball is shot into.


The backboard is the rectangular board behind the basket that the ball bounces off of when it is shot.


The court is the playing surface where the game is played. It is typically rectangular and divided into two halves by the midcourt line.


A foul is a violation of the rules. It can be committed by a player or a team, and results in a penalty.

Free Throw

A free throw is an unopposed shot taken from the free throw line. It is awarded to a player who has been fouled by an opponent.

Jump Ball

A jump ball is used to start the game and to resolve certain situations when two players have their hands on the ball at the same time.


A rebound occurs when a player gains possession of the ball after a missed shot.


A turnover occurs when a team loses possession of the ball without taking a shot, either due to a violation or a steal by the opposing team.

Offensive Terms


An assist is a pass that leads directly to a made basket by a teammate.

Fast Break

A fast break is a quick offensive play that takes advantage of the defense being out of position.


A layup is a shot taken near the basket by jumping off one foot and using the backboard to score.


A screen is when an offensive player stands in the way of a defender, creating space for a teammate to move or take a shot.

Shot Clock

The shot clock is a device used to limit the amount of time a team has to take a shot. It is typically 24 seconds in the NBA and FIBA.

Defensive Terms


A block is when a defender jumps and swats the ball away from a shooter, preventing a made basket.

Double Team

A double team is when two defenders guard one offensive player.

Man-to-Man Defense

Man-to-man defense is a defensive strategy in which each defender is assigned to guard one offensive player.

Zone Defense

Zone defense is a defensive strategy in which defenders are responsible for guarding an area of the court rather than a specific player.

Miscellaneous Terms


Dribbling is the act of bouncing the ball on the court while walking or running.

Technical Foul

A technical foul is a violation of the rules that does not involve physical contact. It typically results in a free throw for the opposing team.


Traveling is a violation that occurs when a player takes too many steps without dribbling the ball or passing it to another player.


A triple-double is when a player records double-digit figures in three statistical categories, typically points, rebounds, and assists.

By understanding these basketball terms, fans of the sport can follow the action on the court more easily and appreciate the game even more.

Basketball Scoring Terms

Field Goal

A field goal is a shot made from anywhere on the court during regular play, worth two points if made inside the three-point line, and three points if made outside it.


A three-pointer is a shot made from outside the three-point line, worth three points.


A dunk is a high-flying shot in which a player jumps and slams the ball through the hoop with one or two hands.

Hook Shot

A hook shot is a one-handed shot taken with a sweeping motion of the arm, usually from close to the basket.


A fadeaway is a jump shot in which the shooter jumps backwards, away from the defender, before releasing the ball.

Player Roles

Point Guard

The point guard is typically the team’s best ball handler and passer, responsible for running the team’s offense and setting up scoring opportunities.

Shooting Guard

The shooting guard is typically a team’s best perimeter shooter and scorer, often relied upon to make three-pointers.

Small Forward

The small forward is a versatile player who can both shoot from the outside and drive to the basket.

Power Forward

The power forward is typically a team’s best rebounder and interior scorer, responsible for grabbing rebounds and scoring inside the paint.


The center is typically the tallest player on the team and is responsible for scoring, rebounding, and defending the basket.


Understanding the various basketball terms can help fans follow the game more closely and appreciate the intricacies of the sport. Whether you’re a casual observer or a die-hard fan, knowing the terminology of the game can enhance your enjoyment of the sport.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This

Share This

Share this post with your friends!