Basketball, like any other major sport, has its own unique words and phrases used by sports journalists, players, and fans. The basketball glossary is intended to educate on words of the sport for using with basketball.
2-for-1: A strategy used within the last minute of a period, in which the team with possession times its shot to ensure that it will regain possession with enough time to shoot again before time runs out.
3-and-D: Describes a player, typically not a star, who specializes mainly in three-point shooting ("3") and defense ("D"). Term most often used in the NBA, where this specific skill set has been increasingly valued in the 21st century.
3x3: A formalized version of the half-court three-on-three game, officially sanctioned by FIBA. This variant will make its Olympic debut in 2020.
Three Seconds Rule: requires that a player shall not remain in the opponents' restricted area for more than three consecutive seconds while their team is in control of a live ball in the frontcourt and the game clock is running.
ACB: The top professional league in Spain; often regarded as the second-strongest domestic league in the world, behind the NBA. Initialism for the Spanish Asociación de Clubes de Baloncesto ("Association of Basketball Clubs").
Advance Step: A step in which the defender's lead foot steps toward their man and the back foot slides forward.
Air Ball: An unblocked shot that fails to hit the rim or backboard.
Alley Oop: An offensive play in which a player throws the ball up near the basket to a teammate (or, more rarely, to himself) who jumps, catches the ball in mid air and immediately scores a basket, usually with a slam dunk.
Alternating Possession: In many rulesets, most notably FIBA, NCAA, and NFHS (U.S. high school), a rule used to settle most or all jump ball situations after the opening tipoff. In jump ball situations, or at the start of a new period of play, possession is awarded to the team whose offense is moving in the direction of the possession arrow.
And-One: The free throw awarded to a shooter who is fouled while scoring.
Assist: A pass to a teammate who scores a basket immediately or after one dribble.
Backdoor Cut: An offensive play in which a player on the perimeter steps away from the basket, drawing the defender along, then suddenly cuts to the basket behind the defender for a pass. The opposite of a V cut.
Ball Hog: A player who frequently chooses not to pass the ball and attempts difficult shots.
Backboard: The rectangular platform behind the rim that supports it.
Backcourt: 1. The half of the court a team is defending. The opposite of the frontcourt. 2. A team's guards.
Backcourt Violation: 1. Touching the ball in the backcourt after it has entered the frontcourt and was not last touched by the other team. 2. Failure to bring the ball from the backcourt into the frontcourt within the allotted time of 8 seconds in the NBA or FIBA (previously 10) and 10 seconds in NCAA play for both men and women (this violation was not part of the NCAA women's game until the 2013-14 season).
Back Screen: An offensive play in which a player comes from the low post to set a screen for a player on the perimeter.
Ball Fake: A sudden movement by the player with the ball intended to cause the defender to move in one direction, allowing the passer to pass in another direction. Also called a pass fake.
Ball Reversal: Passing of the ball from one side of the court to the other.
Ball Screen: An offensive play in which a player sets a screen on the defender guarding the player with the ball.
Ball Side: The half of the court (divided lengthwise) that the ball is on. Also called the strong side. The opposite of the help side.
Banana Cut: A wide, curving cut, as opposed to a cut that is a straight line. Also known as a 'C' cut.
Bank Shot: A shot that hits the backboard before hitting the rim or going through the net.
Baseball Pass: Passing the basketball using an overhand throw with one hand similar to a baseball pitch.
Baseline: The line that marks the playing boundary at either end of the court. Also called the end line.
Baseline Out-of-Bounds Play: The play used to return the ball to the court from outside the baseline along the opponent's basket.
Basket Cut: A cut toward the basket.
BEEF: Balance, Eyes, Elbow, Follow Through — A mnemonic used to teach proper shooting form.
Bench: 1. Substitute players sitting on the sideline. 2. The bench or chairs these players sit on.
Benchwarmer: A player who sits on the bench for most if not all of the game.
Bid Thief: Specific to U.S. college basketball, especially NCAA Division I. Refers to a team that (1) is a member of a conference with at least one team that is virtually certain to receive a bid to the men's or women's tournament, as applicable, regardless of performance in the conference tournament; (2) is not viewed as a viable candidate for an at-large tournament bid, but (3) wins its conference tournament, forcing the more powerful conference member(s) into the at-large pool and thus "stealing" a bid from a team (not necessarily in that conference) that otherwise would be a credible candidate for an at-large bid.
Big (or Big Man, Big Woman): A low post player who is typically physically large for a basketball player and generally either a center or power forward.
Blindside Screen: A screen set directly behind a defender where the player can't see it.
Block: 1. A violation in which a defender steps in front of a dribbler but is still moving when they collide. Also called a blocking foul. 2. To tip or deflect a shooter's shot, altering its flight so the shot misses. 3. The small painted square on the floor next to the basket just outside the lane.
Block Out: To maintain better rebounding position than an opposing player by widening your stance and arms and using your body as a barrier. Also called boxing out.
Board: A rebound.
Bonus: Under NCAA men's and NFHS rules, a team is "in the bonus" when its opponent has seven, eight or nine team fouls in a half and so gains a one and one opportunity on each non-shooting foul. The opposing team is "over the limit." Under NCAA women's rules, the bonus takes effect on the fifth team foul in a quarter, but the "one and one" no longer exists; all subsequent non-shooting fouls result in two free throws. In the NCAA rule book, free throws in this situation are officially called bonus free throws. See also double bonus and penalty.
Bounce Pass: A pass that bounces once before reaching the receiver.
Box-and-One: A combination defense in which four defenders play zone in a box formation and the fifth defender guards one player man-to-man.
Box Out: See block out.
Box Set: A formation in which four players align themselves as the four corners of a box. Often used for baseline out-of-bounds plays.
Brick: A shot attempt that hits the rim and bounces off.
Bricklayer: One who repeatedly shoots bricks.
Bump the Cutter: To step in the way of a player who is trying to cut to the ball for a pass.
Buzzer Beater: A basket in the final seconds of a game (right before the buzzer sounds) that in itself results in a win or overtime.
Carry: A penalty in formal play or slang for when an offensive player is deemed to have held the ball excessively at the ball's apex while dribbling. Also referred to as palming. In formal play this penalty is considered either a carry or a double dribble.
Center: One of the three standard player positions. Centers are generally the tallest players on the floor, responsible mainly for scoring, rebounding, and defense near the basket.
Charge: An offensive foul when the person with the ball rushes into a non-moving defender. See also offensive foul.
Cherry Picking: A strategy whereby one player (the cherry picker) decides to not play defense and instead stays near his/her opponent’s goal. The objective for that player is to receive the ball from his/her teammates for easier points.
Chest Pass: The ball is passed from one player to another player's chest.
Chucker: A player who takes frequent, and often imprudent, shot attempts. The term was popularized by the television series Seinfeld.
Clear-Path Foul: A foul whenever a defender fouls an opponent when the opponent has nobody in front of him. The foul results in 2 free-throws and possession.
Cornerman: See forward.
Dagger (or Dagger Shot): A made shot – sometimes a three-pointer – in a pivotal part of the game, a shot that, e.g., silences a rowdy crowd, puts the team ahead in the closing moments of a game, discourages the opposing team or kills their confidence
Dead-Ball Rebound: A rebound not credited towards either team's total rebounds, such as the rebound that (technically) occurs after a miss on the first free throw of a two-shot foul. It ensures that every missed shot has a corresponding rebound, and was introduced for the purposes of box score statistical error detection.
Dime: See drop a dime.
Dish: An assist.
Disqualifying Foul: (FIBA and NCAA women's) an especially egregious foul, almost always involving violence or other excessive physical contact, that is punished by immediate ejection. Equivalent to the NBA's flagrant-2.
DNP-CD: Stands for "did not play - coach's decision". It refers to cases where a player was available to play in a game but did not play. It does not refer to cases where a player missed the game due to injury or suspension. Additionally, it does not always mean a player is being punished by the coach. Some end of the bench players may be a DNP-CD for many games during the season.
Double Bonus: (NCAA men's and NFHS) When a team accumulates 10 or more fouls in a half in NCAA men's or NFHS play, the other team is "in the double bonus", earning two free throws on each subsequent non-shooting foul by the defense. Before 2015–16, this rule was also part of NCAA women's play, but the change from playing in halves to quarters resulted in the elimination of the "one-and-one" free throw situation. The term "double bonus" is widely used by the media and fans, but does not appear in any official rule book. See also bonus and penalty.
Double-Double: Double-digit figures in two positive statistical categories (example: 12 points, 14 rebounds).
Double Dribble: 1. To dribble the ball with two hands at the same time. 2. To dribble, stop, and then begin to dribble again; Either act results in a loss of possession.
Double Nickel: To accumulate 55 points.
Down Screen: When an offensive player runs to the baseline closest to their goal to set a screen.
Downtown: Well outside the three-point line.
Dribble Drive Motion: An offense that spreads the players to open up the lane for driving player to make a layup or kick out for a three-pointer.
Dribble: To bounce the ball continuously with one hand. Required in order to take steps with the ball.
Drop a Dime: To make an assist.
Drop Step: A post up move where the ballhandler picks up his dribble and at the same time extends a leg back on one side of his defender and then turns toward the basket, using that leg as leverage to get between his defender and the basket.
Dunk: 1. (verb) To score by putting the ball directly through the basket with one or both hands. 2. (noun) A shot made by dunking.
Elam Ending: A method of ending basketball games by reaching a specified target score, devised by Ball State University professor Nick Elam and currently used in The Basketball Tournament. In the TBT implementation, upon the first dead ball on or after the 4:00 mark in the final quarter, 8 points (originally 7, but changed for the 2019 edition) are added to the score of the leading team, which becomes the target score. The game then continues without a game clock but with the shot clock, and the first team to reach or exceed the target score wins.
Elbow: 1. An attempted or actual elbow strike. Especially violent examples are typically called as flagrant fouls. 2. The court area where the free-throw line meets the side of the 3-second lane.
End of Quarter: When a quarter ends.
EuroBasket: European international tournament, held every two years for both men and women. Analogous to the men's UEFA European Championship and UEFA Women's Championship.
EuroCup: Europe's second-level transnational club competition, operated by Euroleague Basketball. Analogous to the UEFA Europa League in football.
EuroLeague: Europe's top transnational club competition, also operated by Euroleague Basketball. Analogous to the UEFA Champions League in football.
Fadeaway: A fadeaway or fall-away in basketball is a jump shot taken while jumping backwards, away from the basket but still facing it. The goal is to create space between the shooter and the defender, making the shot much harder to block.
Fast Break: An offensive tactic in which a team attempts to advance the ball and score as quickly as possible, giving the other team no time to defend effectively. Often the result of a steal or blocked shot. See also secondary break.
FIBA: The International Basketball Federation, known as FIBA from its French name Fédération Internationale de Basketball. An association of national organizations which governs international competitions.
FIBA 33: The original name of what is now called 3x3.
Field Goal: A shot made from anywhere on the court, does not include free throws.
Finger Roll: A specialized type of layup shot where the ball is rolled off the tips of the player's fingers using the momentum of the jump. The advantage of the finger roll is that the ball can travel in a higher arc over a defender that might otherwise block the shot.
Flagrant Foul: An unsportsmanlike foul in which there is no serious attempt to play the ball. The NBA classifies these types of fouls as flagrant-1 and flagrant-2; NFHS (high school) uses flagrant personal foul and flagrant technical foul; the NCAA uses both sets of terms interchangeably in men's basketball. At all North American levels, the latter type of foul results in the immediate ejection of the offender. FIBA, and since 2017–18 NCAA women's basketball, do not use the term "flagrant foul", instead using unsportsmanlike foul and disqualifying foul (which roughly correspond to the two North American subcategories).
Floater: A type of shot typically utilized by smaller guards. It is characterized by shooting the ball with an extremely high arc in order to prevent taller defenders from blocking the shot.
Flop: An intentional fall by a player after little or no physical contact from an opponent, with the goal of drawing a personal foul call against the opponent.
Forward: One of the three standard player positions. Forwards are primarily responsible for scoring and rebounding. See Small forward and Power forward. An individual capable of playing both types of forward is often called a cornerman or stretch four.
Foul: Violations of the rules other than floor violations, generally attempts to gain advantage by physical contact; penalized by a change in possession or free-throw opportunities; see personal foul, technical foul, flagrant foul, unsportsmanlike foul, and disqualifying foul.
Foul In: See and-one.
Four-Point Play: A rare play in which a player is fouled while making a three-point shot and then makes the resulting free throw.
Free Throw: An unopposed attempt to score a basket, worth one point, from the free throw line. Generally, two attempts are awarded when the player is fouled in the act of shooting (three attempts are awarded in the case of three-point shot), fouled flagrantly, or when the opposing team fouls while over the foul limit. For technical fouls, one free throw is awarded under FIBA rules; the NBA and NFHS award two free throws for all technical fouls; and NCAA rules award either one or two free throws, depending on the specific type of technical foul. In 3x3, where regular baskets are worth 1 point and shots from behind the arc worth 2 points, one attempt is normally awarded. Two attempts are awarded when a player is fouled on a missed shot from behind the arc, the opposing team has committed more than six fouls in a game, and on any technical foul.
Granny Shot: An underhand shot. Can describe a shot taken using only one hand, usually thrown by older women, or one using both hands, most notably used by Rick Barry for free throws.
Grinnell System: A combined offensive and defensive system created by David Arseneault, head coach at Grinnell College. A variation of the run-and-gun style, its most unusual feature is that entire five-player units are usually substituted every 45 to 90 seconds, as in an ice hockey shift.
Guard: One of the three standard player positions. Today, guards are typically classified in two broad categories. Point guards have strong ballhandling and passing skills and are typically used to run the offense. Shooting guards, as the name implies, are generally the team's best shooters, and are very often the leading scorers on their teams. Some players, often referred to as combo guards, combine the features of both.
Gunner: Someone who shoots the ball too many times.
Get Back: To retreat back across the half-court line after either a made or missed shot attempt. Usually called out by players or coaches to let team know to hustle back and set up on defense.
Half-Court Defense: The portion of a team's defensive play conducted with both teams having established positions. See also transition defense.
Half-Court Offense: The portion of a team's offensive play conducted with both teams having established positions. See also transition offense.
Halftime: 1. The end of the first half of play. 2. The interval between the two halves.
Hand-Check Foul: A kind of foul wherein a player used his hands illegally to impede or slow the movement of his opponent.
Hang Time: The time a player spends in the air from the lift off of a jump to the landing of the jump.
Heating Up: When a player starts to make the majority of their shots and takes over the game.
Held Ball: A situation when players from both teams claim possession of the basketball at the same time without a foul from either team. Depending on the league and the game situation, may result in a jump ball, a change in possession, or an out-of-bounds play by the team that previously had possession.
In-n-Out: 1. A shot that appears to be going in, but instead goes back out. 2. A dribble move where the offensive player dribbles in an inward motion then backs out to fake out a defender.
Index Rating: See Performance Index Rating.
I Got Back: To be in the back of the court ready to block or shoot.
Isolation, "iso": An offensive tactic where the ballhandler moves to one side of the court while all the other offensive players move to the far side. The offense seeks to create a favorable one-on-one matchup for the isolated ballhandler, or else to draw a double-team that may create an open shot for a teammate.
Jump Shot: An overhead shot taken while jumping, sometimes abbreviated as J.
Jump Ball: The jump ball is what starts every basketball game, except in 3x3. Takes place in the center of the court.
Key: The free-throw lane and free-throw circle together (originally, the lane was narrower than the circle's diameter, giving the area the appearance of a skeleton key hole)
Kicking: A violation called when a player intentionally uses his or her foot or leg to contact the ball. Play is stopped and the ball is given to the non-violating team to inbound.
Lane: The free-throw lane.
Lay-in: A close-range shot using one hand to tip the ball over the rim
Layup: A close-range shot using one hand to bank the ball off the backboard
Man-to-Man Defense: A defense in which each player guards a single opposing player. See also zone defense.
Memphis Attack: Another name for dribble drive motion; the offense was popularized in the early 2000s at the University of Memphis under their then-head coach, John Calipari.
Mid-Range: Describes a shot taken from outside the paint but inside the three-point arc.
Motion Offense: Offense created through a series of cuts and screens to create the best possible shot, with most or all offensive players moving simultaneously.
Moving Violation: A traveling violation
NBA: The National Basketball Association, the largest men’s professional basketball league in the United States, also with one team in Canada.
NCAA: The National Collegiate Athletic Association, the primary governing body for intercollegiate sports in the United States. Also used to describe national tournaments operated by this body, especially the Division I men's and women's tournaments. An unrelated body with the same name exists in the Philippines.
Nellie Ball: An unconventional offensive strategy developed by NBA head coach Don Nelson. It is an offense that relies on 2 things: 1. Smaller, more athletic players who can create mismatches by outrunning their opponents. 2. A strong emphasis on three-point shooting, which is generally a staple of the offense. A true center is not needed to run Nellie Ball, although this strategy is most effective against teams that do not have the athleticism or shooting ability to keep up with the fast pace of the offense.
NET: NCAA Evaluation Tool, a metric developed by the NCAA for use in the selection process for the Division I men's tournament, beginning in 2019.
NFHS: The National Federation of State High School Associations, the body that sets rules for high school sports in the U.S., including basketball.
NIT: The National Invitation Tournament, a postseason tournament for NCAA Division I men's basketball teams that do not qualify for the NCAA Tournament. Founded in 1938, a year before the NCAA Tournament, it is closely identified with New York City; all games were originally held at the third Madison Square Garden, and to this day the semifinals and final are held at today's Madison Square Garden. In its early years, it was considered more prestigious than the NCAA Tournament, but this changed starting in the 1950s. The tournament has been directly operated by the NCAA since 2006.
Offensive Foul: A foul committed by an offensive player.
One-and-Done: (NCAA men's) A player expected to declare himself eligible for the NBA draft after a single season in college.
One-and-One: (NCAA men's and NFHS) A free-throw attempt which, if made, allows the player a second free-throw attempt. This also existed in NCAA women's play, but was removed starting with the 2015–16 season. See also bonus.
One Trillion: A box score showing one minute played and zero for all other statistics, resulting in a one followed by twelve zeros – the conventional American rendering of "one trillion."
Outlet Pass: A pass thrown by a rebounder to start a fast break.
Over-and-Back: See backcourt violation.
Over the Back: A foul committed by a player who tries to rebound the ball by pushing, moving or climbing on a player's back who is already in position to rebound the ball.
Overtime: When the score is tied at the end of regulation play, the teams play a five-minute overtime period. (Under NFHS rules, overtime is 4 minutes; 3x3 uses an untimed overtime; and The Basketball Tournament has abolished overtime.)
Pack: To roughly hit down a ball that an opposing player has just released for a shot. (See also, swat.)
Pack-Line Defense: A man-to-man defensive system in which one player pressures the ball and the other four "pack" down within an imaginary "line" extending to about 2 feet (60 cm) inside the three-point arc, with the intent of preventing dribble penetration. The system, derived from a number of other man-to-man systems, was developed by Dick Bennett, and has been popularized in the 21st century by coaches including his son Tony, Chris Mack, and Sean Miller.
Paint: The key.
Palming: Specifically referring to the habit of an offensive player to hold the ball at the apex of its bounce while dribbling, usually by gripping the ball firmly in the dribbling hand. In organized play this is always considered a dribbling penalty, often called a carry or double dribble. In non-organized play this is typically considered rude and is generally discouraged by the defensive players.
Pass: (v) To throw the ball to a teammate. (n) The act of passing to an open teammate
Penalty: Once a team reaches a set number of team fouls in a playing period, varying by governing body, the fouled team gets free throws instead of possession of the ball. The fouling team is "over the limit." See also bonus and double bonus.
Performance Index Rating: A player rating originally used by Liga ACB to determine weekly and season MVPs; later adopted by Euroleague Basketball to determine the same awards in the EuroLeague and EuroCup. No longer used to determine season MVPs in the EuroLeague and EuroCup, but still used for weekly awards, and also used by many other European domestic leagues. It is calculated from statistics available in standard European box scores as follows:
- Add the following statistics—points, assists, rebounds, blocks, steals, fouls drawn, free throws made, 2-point field goals made, 3-point field goals made.
- Subtract turnovers, own shots blocked, fouls committed, free throw attempts, 2-point field goal attempts, and 3-point field goal attempts.
Perimeter: The area outside the key but well inside the three-point arc.
Philippine Basketball Association: Or colloquially known as PBA is a basketball league in the Philippines. It is the second oldest professional basketball league in the world after NBA.
Pick: See "screen"
Pick and Roll: An offensive play in which a player sets a screen (pick) for a teammate handling the ball and then slips behind the defender (rolls) to accept a pass.
Pivot: The pivot center, or to lightly pick up one foot and spin with the next to avoid traveling
Pivot Foot: The foot that must remain touching the floor to avoid traveling
Player Control Foul: Player with the ball crashes into a defender; incorrectly referred to as a charge
Pocket Pass: A skillful pass through a narrow gap in the defense, especially to complete a pick and roll play.
Point Forward: A forward with strong ballhandling and passing skills who can be called on to direct the team's offense.
Points in the Paint: Field goals made in the painted area below the free-throw line
Possession Arrow: A physical or electronic arrow at the scorer's table that determines the next possession under the alternating possession rule. After the opening jump ball, it is set to point in the direction in which the team that lost the jump ball is moving on offense, and is switched each time the alternating possession rule is invoked.
Post Up: To go in or near the key, turn so that you are facing away from the basket but towards a teammate who has the ball, and try to establish position to receive a pass.
Prayer: A shot that has very little probability of being made.
Princeton Offense: An offensive basketball strategy which emphasizes constant motion, passing, back-door cuts, picks on and off the ball, and disciplined teamwork. Used and perfected at Princeton University, it's an offense designed for a unit of 5 players who can each pass, shoot and dribble at an above average level.
Putback Dunk: A dunk performed in the air during an offensive rebound.
Quadruple-Double: Double-digit figures in four positive statistical categories (example: 10 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists, 10 steals)
Rainbow Shot: A perfect high shot arc on a shot that goes in, usually resulting from a fluent shooting motion and usually on a long shot attempt.
Rebound: (v) To obtain the ball after a missed field goal attempt (n) An act of rebounding.
Rejected: To have one's shot blocked.
Rimshot: A toss in which the ball hits the rim of the basket
Rip a C: A motion used while chinning the ball to create space during a pivot between an offensive player and a defensive player. Pivot towards the defender and rips the ball in a C-shape away from the pressure to create a passing lane.
Run: An interval in which one team heavily outscores the other.
Rock: The ball
Run and Gun: A combined offensive and defensive system devoted to increasing the pace of the game. On offense, the ball is moved upcourt as fast as possible, with the goal of taking the first shot available (often a three-pointer). The defense uses full-court pressure in an attempt to cause turnovers. See also Grinnell System.
Screen, Set a Screen: (v) To attempt to prevent a defender from guarding a teammate by standing in the defender's way. The screening player must remain stationary; a moving screen is an offensive foul. (n) The tactic of setting a screen. Also called a "pick".
A Secondary Break: An offensive phase after a fast break is initially stopped, but before the opponent can enter into its set defense.
Set Shot: A shot taken without leaving the floor.
Shot Clock: A timer designed to increase the pace (and subsequently, the score) by requiring a shot to be released before the timer expires; if the ball does not touch the rim or enter the basket, it results in a loss of possession for the shooting team. The time limit is 24 seconds in the NBA, WNBA, and FIBA play, and 30 in NCAA play for both sexes. See also airball.
Sixth Man/Woman: 1. A player who does not start, but is generally the first person off the bench, and often has statistics comparable to those of starters. 2. A superfan who believes that his fervent support of a team will have a direct influence on the outcome of a game that that team may be involved in.
Splash: Occurs when someone makes a Nothing-but-net, and the net hangs over the rim as a result
Stretch Five: A center ("5") capable of "stretching" a defense with his or her outside shooting ability. Analogous to the "stretch four" (immediately below), this positional hybrid has emerged mainly in the 2010s.
Stretch Four: A power forward ("4") capable of "stretching" a defense with his or her outside shooting ability.
Stripe: The free throw line.
Swingman: A player capable of playing either shooting guard or small forward.
Swat: To hit a ball, that an opposing player just shot, off course so that it misses completely. (See also, pack.)
Swish: (n) A shot which goes through the net without hitting the rim or backboard. However, there is some disagreement as to whether a swish can occur after a ball hits the backboard. Also known as a hoopie in the PA area. (v) To swish the ball in such a manner.
Switch: A style of defense in which matchups change often rather than being set for an entire quarter or game. In its extreme form, this can mean that the offensive player that a defensive player is guarding changes multiple times within one possession. The switch is sometimes used against a Pick and roll offense.
Technical Foul: A foul assessed for unsportsmanlike non-contact behavior and for some procedural violations (for example, having too many players on the floor or calling timeout when none remains). Penalized by loss of possession after a free throw which may be taken by any member of the opposing team. Frequently abbreviated as "technical" or "T."
The Basketball Tournament, TBT: A 72-team single-elimination tournament held in the U.S. during the offseason with a $2 million winner-take-all purse.
Three-Point Field Goal: A shot, worth three points, attempted with both feet behind the three-point line.
Three-Pointer: A three-point field goal
Trey: A three-point field goal
Three-Point Play: 1. A play in which a shooter is fouled while making a two-point shot and then makes the resulting free throw. See also and one. 2. (rarely) When a shooter is fouled while taking but missing a three-point shot and then makes all three free throws.
Toilet Bowl: When the ball hits the rim on a certain angle and then circles around it, can go in or out.
Transition Defense: The portion of a team's defensive play conducted when the other team has first gained possession and is moving up the court, before both teams have established positions. Includes defense against fast breaks. See also halfcourt defense.
Transition Offense: The portion of a team's offensive play conducted when first obtaining possession from the other team and moving up the court, before both teams have established positions. Includes fast breaks. See also halfcourt offense.
Travel: To move one's pivot foot illegally or to fall to the floor without maintaining a pivot foot (exact rules vary — see Traveling (basketball)) or to take 3 steps without dribbling the ball.
Triangle Offense: An offensive strategy with the goal of exchanging three (sometimes all five) positions, creating spacing among players and allowing each one to pass to four teammates. The triangle offense's most important feature is the sideline triangle created by the center, who stands in the low post, the forward at the wing, and the guard at the corner. Meanwhile, the other guard stands at the top of the key and the weak-side forward is on the weak-side high post, together forming the "two-man game." Every pass and cut has a purpose, and everything is dictated by the defense.
Triple-Double: Double-digit figures in three positive statistical categories (example: 10 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists)
True Road Game: Term used in U.S. college basketball to refer to games played by a particular team on an opponent's home court, or sometimes a larger venue in that opponent's home area in which the opponent controls ticket sales. This distinction has been drawn in the 21st century because of an increasing number of early-season events—both individual games and tournaments—at neutral sites.
Turnover: A loss of possession.
UCLA High Post Offense: The UCLA High Post Offense is an offensive strategy used by John Wooden, the legendary head coach at UCLA. Due to the school's immense success under Wooden's guidance, this offense has become one of the most popular offensive tactics in basketball. Elements of it are commonly used on all levels of the game, including the NBA.
ULEB: The organization that operated the Euroleague and Eurocup before handing responsibility to the Euroleague Basketball Company. It is a cooperative organization of European professional basketball leagues; the name is a French acronym for "Union of European Leagues of Basketball".
Unsportsmanlike Foul: (FIBA and NCAA women's) an egregious foul, involving excessive physical contact, fouling with no intention to make a play on the ball, or fouling an opponent on a breakaway from behind. In NCAA women's play, this category also includes contact dead-ball technical fouls. Roughly equivalent to the NBA's flagrant-1.
Up and Down: A travelling violation when the ball carrier jumps vertically into the air and does not get rid of it before landing.
Vertical Jump: The act of raising one's center of gravity higher in the vertical plane solely with the use of one's own muscles; it is a measure of how high an individual or athlete can elevate off the ground from a standstill.
Violation: An infraction of the rules other than a foul, such as traveling or a three-second violation.
V-Cut: A move where a player moves to the player defending him/her, then quickly turns and receives the ball. Used to fake the defender.
Walk: Walking with out dribbling the ball
Wedgie: When the basketball gets stuck between the rim and backboard.
Wing: 1. An area located on either side of the court, outside the 3-second lane, along an imaginary extension of the free-throw line. 2. A swingman, especially one who generally operates from the above area on offense.
WNBA: The Women's National Basketball Association, the largest professional basketball league for women in the United States.
WNIT: The Women's National Invitation Tournament, a tournament for NCAA Division I women's teams, with both preseason and postseason versions. The preseason version was founded in 1994, and the postseason version was founded in 1998. The latter includes teams that do not qualify for the NCAA Tournament. Before the 1998–99 season, both events were known as the National Women's Invitational Tournament, inheriting the name of a similar postseason event that operated from 1969 to 1996. Despite the name, the WNIT has no relation to the men's NIT—it is not operated by the NCAA, and was never under the control of any of the bodies that ran the men's NIT before 2006.
Zone Defense: A defense in which each player is responsible for an area of the court. See also man-to-man defense.