Basketball phrases and terminology can certainly seem like a different language to those who aren’t familiar with the sport. What are some basketball phrases and terminology that might catch someone off guard who doesn’t follow the game?
Let’s start with a list of 8 basketball phrases and terminology that could be confusing to someone who isn’t a big fan of the game. This is Basketball terminology 101 for those trying to pick up a few pointers to add to their game.
1) Air Ball
Most know by the chant at a game when an air ball occurs. An air ball is a basketball phrase or terminology that simply implies what it says. The ball hit nothing but air. An Air Ball occurs when a basketball player shoots a ball and hits no rim or backboard with the shot. The shot could land in the hands of an opposing player or a teammate but it’s only an air ball if it hits no rim, net or backboard and doesn’t go through the hoop for a made basket.
In the game of basketball players must dribble while they move if they have the basketball. If a player takes an extra step without dribbling this basketball phrase is called a travel or a walk. Players without the ball can move freely. Players with the ball must put the ball on the floor and continuously dribble while moving. If that player stops or comes to a rest he can also stop dribbling or keep dribbling.
3) Slam Dunk
Most people know what the basketball phrase slam dunk means. This basketball phrase just means a player puts the basketball over the rim and grabs the rim as he scores the bucket. A slam dunk usually occurs on a fast break. There are one handed and two handed slam dunks. A reverse slam dunk is when a player dunks facing the other goal or away from the goal he scores on.
3) Fast Break
This basketball terms simply refers to the concept of an offense being in the open court while the majority of defenders are still on the opposite end. A fast break occurs when an offensive team misses a shot or turns the ball over and the defensive team switches to offense and quickly races toward the opposing basket to attempt to score.
These two basketball phrases go hand in hand. A charge is when a defensive player has his feet set and an offensive player runs over that player. Sometimes if the offensive player is out of control there is a player control foul called. A blocking foul is called when the defensive player is not set or in good position when the offensive player drives the basket.
5) Technical Foul
A referee has the ability to call a technical foul at his discretion for a number of things. Common things that may draw a technical foul from the ref is harsh language, criticism of the ref, flagrant fouling and calling a timeout when a team has no timeouts remaining.
6) In the Paint
There is a painted area underneath the basket that is specifically called “The Paint”. This basketball phrase refers to the square box underneath the basket where players typically fight for a rebound. Offensive players are typically only allowed 3 seconds in the paint. That basketball rule keeps dominating centers like Shaquille O”Neal from standing around the basket constantly. The 3 second rule keeps players in motion moving in and out of the lane. The 3 second violation occurs when the offensive player is caught standing “In the Paint” for 3 seconds. This violation gives the ball back to the defensive team.
7) Zone defense
A zone defense is the basketball phrase used for a defense where a team doesn’t play man to man defense. In other words, a team plays defense in set pattern. A 2-3 Zone Defense means a team has 2 players up top and 3 underneath the basket. A 3-2 Zone means the opposite. There are many variations of the zone defense.
The alternative usually is man to man. In this defense each basketball player is guarding a specific player from the opposing team.
8) Full Court Press
This is a basketball phrase used to describe a defense where teams press the other team for the entire length of the court. The full court press starts wherever the opposing team is throwing the ball inbounds. Usually that is from under their own basket.
These are just some of the basketball phrases and terminology used in a game that is way more complex than it looks. Some of these basketball phrases are questions previous girlfriends have asked me about when an announcer mentioned it over the air. I hope this Basketball Terminology 101 lesson is of some use.