This is by no means an all-inclusive list of basketball terms to cover every detail of the game of basketball. But the definitions you will find here are very exhaustive, and should help you in understanding most of the basketball language you may encounter.
GENERAL BASKETBALL TERMS
TIP-OFF: Jump ball to begin game.
JUMP BALL: Anytime other than tip-off where two or more opposing players are holding onto ball at the same time struggling for possession. Also when a shot is blocked by defender, and offensive player still has control of the ball when their feet return to floor. Possession of ball in Jump-Ball situation will go to the opposite team of the one who got last jump ball, or who got beginning possession at the start of a quarter, half, or game.
POSSESSION OF BALL: Whichever team has the ball at any given time.
LIVE BALL: Anytime the ball is put into play.
DEAD BALL: Anytime play has stopped. Ex. Referee's whistle, Out of Bounds, Free-Throws (unless first miss on 1 and 1, or missed second shot on 2-Shot free-throw), or Time Clock expires.
FOUL: Anytime in which a player on Offense or Defense makes illegal contact with another player on the opposing team. On Defense this can be for impeding the movement of an offensive player by holding, slapping, blocking, or over-the-back. On Offense this can be for illegal screen, pushing off, charging, or over-the-back.
BASKETBALL TERMS FOR TYPES OF VIOLATIONS
WALKING/TRAVELING: This occurs when a player has established on foot or the other as their pivot foot, and then picks that foot up and sets it down again, or drags it, without making a pass or shot. A player is allowed two steps as ball is picked up. But the foot of that second step automatically becomes pivot foot, and cannot be removed from the floor unless player is in the act of passing, dribbling, or shooting. Traveling is also called on a player commits to taking a shot, bringing feet off the floor, then comes down again either before release, or without shot being taken.
DOUBLE-DRIBBLE: Anytime a player has began his/her dribble, picks the ball up as if to pass or shoot, but then resumes their dribble.
OUT OF BOUNDS: When either an offensive or defensive player throws, slaps, kicks, or touches the ball in any way, whether voluntary or involuntary, which causes it to go across sideline or baseline, touching any object on the outside of these lines.
THREE SECOND VIOLATION: When an Offensive player remains in the lane area for over three seconds.
FIVE SECONDS IN-BOUND VIOLATION: When an Offensive player fails to get a pass in bounds to team mate, and into play, before five seconds expires.
FIVE SECOND OFFENSE VIOLATION: When an Offensive player is guarded in close proximity by defender, whether moving or stationary, for over five seconds without passing, shooting, or putting distance between themselves and defender.
TEN SECOND VIOLATION: Offense fails to get the ball across mid-court, after in bounds, before ten seconds has expired.
BASKETBALL TERMS FOR OFFENSE
CUT: The act of moving toward an open area toward basket in expectation of a pass.
FLASH: Moving to an open area directly toward ball.
IN-BOUNDS PLAY: Passing the ball in to any one of four other team mates in order to begin play, to set up offense, or score.
JUMP-STOP: Move used by offensive player to come to an abrupt stop off of dribble, in order to stay under control.
TRIPLE-THREAT POSITION: Stance used by player so that they are ready and able to either shoot, pass, or drive.
PIVOT: Act of setting one foot or the other in place so that player can turn or step, one way or the other, in order to protect ball, pass, shoot, or dribble.
DROP-STEP: Basically a backward pivot. Move is used by player to shed defender. Primarily used in low-post/lane area.
BASKETBALL TERMS FOR DEFENSE
LATERAL SLIDE: Movement of defender in anyone direction. This is done sliding in a sideways motion without crossing feet, and with the sole purpose of staying between offense and goal.
READY POSITION: Stance taken by defender to be in a position to stop offensive player. Player should be balanced on balls of feet with knees bent, feet spread(comfortably), arms and hands out guarding dribble and pass. When guarding ball-handler, defender should focus on the mid-section of offensive players body at all times, rather than their head or the ball.
HELP AND RECOVER:When in a Man-to-Man, this is the act of dropping off of the player you are guarding in order to help a team mate contain their man. Once play is stopped, recover happens when you quickly find and pick back up on the person you were guarding.
PLACES ON COURT
LOW-POST: Area immediately around either low block.
HIGH-POST: Area immediately around either elbow at top corner of lane.
ELBOW: Either top corner of lane where free-throw line intersects sideline of lane.
FOUL-LINE EXTENDED: Area out on either wing where a player would be if the foul line was extended across the width of the court from one sideline to the other.
BASELINE: Either end line.
TOP OF KEY: General area out on perimeter above circle, but below mid-court.
OFFSIDE: Offensive or defensive side of court which is opposite the location of the ball.