Basketball Terms Slang Every Hooper Must Know

Basketball terms slang

Written by Aliesha

August 26, 2021

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Basketball has its own set of terms and phrases that an ardent fan or an amateur would know. In fact, you can tell a lot about the level of a person’s basketball immersion by simply observing his chosen lingo. So if you are starting to take up the sport seriously, it’s wise to learn about some of basketball terms slang.

Delve into Sports Lingo: Common Basketball Terms Slang You Must Learn to Use

Every realm has its own unique set of words used exclusively by those immersed in it, and the hoops world is no different. Simply put, basketball has its own terms and slangs a player or an enthusiast would know. In case you are looking to learn more about such knowledge, here are several words you can pick up and use on the court.

Airball

The word airball is more likely used in a basketball match or game. It refers to an unexpected ball shot that misses both the rim and the backboard. When we think about basketball, the term airball instantly brings up a scenario where the ball bounces only once before falling flat. If you want to describe one such scenario and do it in an interesting way, it’s always better to talk about an airball.

Alley-Oop

The alley-oop is the staple of any basketball game. Introduced in the early 1900s, it has become a prominent part of the game and is one of the most popular plays in basketball today. In an alley-oop, one player throws a pass over a defender to another who jumps high enough to catch the ball in mid-air and throw it down for an explosive finish.

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And One

In basketball, “and one” means that scoring the basket earns the player a free throw shot. If the defending player committed a foul while the basket was being scored, then the free throw is earned.

Brick

One of the most common basketball terms slang is brick. The term brick in basketball is used to describe a difficult or bad shot. Thus, the meaning of brick in basketball is a ball that you try to shoot that doesn’t have any chance of going into the basket because it will go off the rim or bounce out.

Bucket

A “bucket” in basketball is a slang term used to describe a successful shot or made shot on goal. It can mean two different things, either a 2-pointer or a 3-pointer shot, depending on the position of where the shot was taken from and what type of shot it was.

Buzzer Beater

A buzzer beater, is a shot that is taken at the end of a quarter, half, or overtime in basketball just as the game clock is going to expire. If the buzzer beater goes in it is considered a score and whoever took the shot is considered to have scored on that possession. The buzzer beater is also sometimes called a game winner. A buzzer beater can only be scored by an offensive player whereas defensive players are not allowed to attempt one.

Crossover

A crossover is a way to secretly change the ball handler’s direction while misleading the defender. It involves bringing one knee up to the chest to increase momentum towards the off-hand side (usually away from the defender), and then passing or dribbling with the other hand. 

Double Dribble

One of the most known basketball terms slang is double dribble. A double dribble occurs when a player holding the ball dribbles it with both hands at the same time or continues to dribble after letting go of the ball and then picking it up again. The person must dribble with one hand as long as he maintains control of the ball.

Fadeaway

A fadeaway shot involves jumping backward and fading away from the basket to create space before shooting. The shooter takes a few steps back from the basket, plants their feet, pauses briefly, and then jumps into their shot. Fadeaways are difficult shots to defend against because the shooter can have so much space between themselves and the defender. This makes it tough to block the shot.

Familiarize yourself with essential basketball jargons!

Flop

A flop is an attempt to fool the officials into calling a foul on the other team or fool spectators into thinking they should have been called. Although the flop can result in one free throw for the flopper’s team, it more often results in the stealing of the ball by a player on another team.

Rebound

A rebound colloquially referred to as a board, is credited to a team when it gains possession of the ball after any missed shot that is not cleared by a single player. Rebounds are divided into two main categories: offensive rebounds, in which the ball is recovered after a missed field goal or free throw; and defensive rebounds, in which the defending team gains possession after preventing its opponent from scoring.

Screen

The screen is one of the most used basketball terms slang. A ball screen refers to a specific action in basketball in which a player sets a screen for a teammate to free him or her from their defender and make a play.

Splash

A splash is a ball that falls into the basket without touching the rim or the backboard.

Swish

Swish in basketball is referred to as a perfect shot. A basket that goes through the hoop from close range without hitting any of the sides of the rim, net, or backboard.

Traveling 

Traveling is a violation that usually occurs when a player with the ball moves one foot, or both feet, in order to gain an advantage over their defender. Traveling is indicated in the rules of basketball by either calling “traveling” or “steps”, or whistling the play dead by blowing a whistle.

Stay in the Know

Just like in any other sport, basketball also has its own unique lingo along with terms not commonly used in everyday conversation. So, whether you are just starting in this sport, or you want to refresh your memory, understanding these basketball terms slang is a good starting point.


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