Basketball Jargon Buster
Basketball Jargon BusterWith the FIBA Basketball World Cup Final taking place this Sunday, and a new NBA season just over a fortnight away, there has never been a better time to immerse yourself in the world’s greatest vest-clad sport. First and foremost, you’ll need to get to grips with the scoring. Unless you have severe common sense deficiencies, you’ll already be able to work out that the objective is to get the ball into the opposition’s basket (with a successful score known simply as; a basket) but these can be worth varying levels of points depending on where you are and the game state.
A field goal is a basket from open play. These can be worth two or three points depending on where it was scored from in relation to the three point line. This line is in an arc at a designated distance from the basket.
The arc in the NBA is currently set at 23 feet 9 inches, while FIBA has theirs at 22 feet 1 inch. Scoring from outside this arc is known more colloquially as a three-pointer, a three or a trey.
If a shooter’s feet are on or inside the line, this is worth two points. Shooting from behind this arc is known as downtown. A free throw presents another opportunity to score, with each successful basket worth one point each.
These occur when an attacking player is fouled – generally an illegal contact –in the act of shooting. Said player then attempts one, two or three (depending on the foul) uncontested shots from the free-throw-line, directly in front of the basket and 15 feet back. The area (or lane) within this distance is known as the key or the paint.
To become a true connoisseur, you must be familiar with the terms for the various other means in which a basket can be scored. Most famously, a dunk (also a slam dunk or a slam), is when a player thrusts the ball through the hoop without releasing it until it goes through the basket.
An alley-oop is a basket whereby a player catches an assist (a pass which leads to a basket) and manages to dunk the ball before landing.
A jump shot is, simply, a shot taken with both hands whilst jumping, usually facing the hoop straight on.
A layup has the shooter jump from below the basket, using one hand, attempting to ricochet the ball off the backboard and into the basket.
The increasingly rare set shot is taken while a player’s feet are both still planted on the floor. The length in which a player stays in the air during their shot is known as hang time, if they can propel themselves whilst in their air it’s known as a skywalk, and when the ball goes in it is buried.
If it aggressively rebounds off the hoop or the backboard, this is a brick.
If a defensive player managed to block the ball mid-shot, this can also be known as a rejection. Players advance the ball whilst in possession through dribbling – in basketball, this is bouncing it on the floor.
As soon as a player stops dribbling and becomes stationary, they cannot resume and must instead look for a shot or a pass. The opposition can take possession from open play by either intercepting a pass, being the first to a rebound, or by stealing the ball mid-dribble.
Basketball is probably the sport which uses the broadest and most diverse amount of slang, but with these essentials under your belt, you should at least have a decent understanding of the game, as well as a good grounding from where you can pick up the more intricate and obscure terms.
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