Basketball Terms and Phrases to Know

Part of the Basketball For Dummies Cheat Sheet

As with any sport, basketball has its own terms and phrases to describe game moves, plays, positions, and more. Knowing some basketball lingo will help you to enjoy the game more while you play or watch from courtside seats — or your sofa.

alley-oop: A designed play in which a player lobs the ball toward the basket and a teammate jumps up, catches the ball in midair, and usually dunks it.
block out (or box out): Using the body to block or shield an opponent in order to gain better position to grab a rebound.
boards: Rebounds.
brick or clank: An especially ugly, misfired shot that clanks hard off the rim.
bucket: A good multipurpose word that can mean the basket itself or a made basket; also can be used as an adjective for an especially good shooter, as in "That guy is bucket."
bury a jumper: To make an especially pretty jump shot.
cager: A basketball player.
charity stripe: The free throw line.
deuce: A made field goal, worth two points.
downtown: A long way from the basket, as in, "He just hit that shot from downtown!"
hack: A foul.
hole: a basket, as in "take it to the hole."
hoop: a basket.
hops: Jumping ability.
H-O-R-S-E: A popular game in which one player makes a shot and his opponent must make the identical shot. Failure to do so results in gaining a letter (starting with "h").
in the paint: In the free throw lane.
nothin' but net: A shot that goes through the rim without touching the rim or any other part of the basket.
rock: Slang for ball, as in "shoot the rock" or "pass the rock."
T: technical foul.
take it to the hole: To drive toward the basket in an attempt to score.
trey: A made field goal from behind the three-point arc, worth three points.
21: A game in which any number of players can play. The player who has the ball attempts to score while all other players defend. A made shot results in two points, plus you are given up to three consecutive free throws, each worth one point.
walk: To travel.
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