Basketball rules – Definitions
THE LANGUAGE GAP. Increased national and international radio and television coverage of basketball has produced many different terms.If you are in tune with the game, you know what “nothing but the bottom of the net” means; although Dr. Naismith, the man who invented the game, might have trouble understanding that this means a successful field goal. Maybe you are trying to decode the word “carom.” That term is slang for the recovery of a missed field-goal attempt and more commonly called a rebound. And just in case you are thinking the word “assist” is limited to your favorite shortstop or hockey player, be advised that an assist is credited to the player whose pass to a teammate led directly to a field goal.
SOME OFFICIAL TERMS. Among the officially defined terms having player-spectator significance are these:
ALTERNATING POSSESSION-In situations in which possession had once been determined by a jump ball (other than at the beginning of the game or overtime periods), teams alternate taking the ball out of bounds according to the possession arrow. The team that does not get possession of the opening tap starts the alternating throw-in process. For men, in held-ball situations created by the defense, the ball is awarded to the defense.
BASKET-The 18-inch ring and appended net through which players attempt to throw the ball. A team’s basket is the one into which its players try to throw the ball. Each team shoots at the basket farthest from its bench in the first half. The teams change baskets for the second half.
BASKET INTERFERENCE-Applies in the following situations: (1) when the ball is touched while any part of it is on or within the basket or within the imaginary cylinder above the basket; (2) when any part of the basket is touched while the ball is on or within the basket; (3) when a movable basket ring is pulled down by a player so that it contacts the ball before the ring returns to its original position. Depending on the value of the shot attempted, two or three points are awarded when a player commits basket interference at an opponent’s basket, except during a free throw. In the case of a free throw, only one point may be awarded.
BLOCKING, CHARGING-Blocking is illegal personal contact that impedes the progress of an opponent. Charging is illegal personal contact by pushing or moving into an opponent’s torso.
BONUS FREE THROW-A second free throw is awarded, if the first is successful, for each common foul (except a player-control foul) committed by a player of a team that had already committed six or more fouls in a half. Types of fouls include personal, unsporting and contact technical fouls. Beginning with the 10th team foul in a half, two free throws are awarded for each common foul (except a player-control foul). A player-control foul is counted as a team foul for the purpose of reaching the bonus. Unsporting technical fouls charged to anyone on the bench count toward the team foul total and bonus free-throw situations.
CLOSELY GUARDED-A defensive player is in a guarding stance within six feet of the player with the ball. Men must be in the frontcourt to meet this definition; women can be anywhere on the court.
CONTROL-A player is in control when holding or dribbling a live ball while inbounds. Team control exists while a live ball is being passed between team members.
DISQUALIFIED PLAYER-One barred from further participation in the game because of committing a fifth foul, including personal, unsporting and contact technical fouls, or for other reasons, such as a flagrant foul. Any squad member who leaves the bench area if a fight has or is about to break out is automatically disqualified from that game. The coach may leave the bench area without penalty to enter the court in order to prevent a fight from occurring.
DRIBBLE-Ball movement caused by the player in control who bats, pushes or taps the ball to the floor any number of times with either hand, but not with both hands simultaneously. A dribble ends when the dribbler catches the ball or touches it with both hands simultaneously. A dribble also ends when an opponent bats the ball or when the ball becomes dead. An interrupted dribble occurs when the ball is loose after deflecting off the dribbler or after it momentarily gets away from the dribbler. During an interrupted dribble, a three-second-lane violation, a player-control foul and acknowledgment of a timeout request cannot occur.
DUNKING-Reaching above the rim to put the ball through the basket. This shot is legal only during the game for men but anytime for women.
EXTRA PERIOD-An extension of time to break a tie score.
FIGHTING- In the opinion of the official, if any flagrant foul is deemed to be a fight, the fighting penalty is invoked. This could include, but is not exclusive to, an attempt to strike an opponent with the arms, hands, legs, feet, or a combative action by one or more players, a coach or team personnel.
FOUL-A rules infraction for which the penalty is one or more free throws (except a double foul or player-control foul). Fouls come in the following categories:
Personal foul-Involves contact with an opponent while the ball is live or after the ball is in possession for a throw-in. A common foul is neither flagrant nor intentional nor committed against a player trying for field goal, nor part of a double or multiple foul.
Technical foul-A foul by any player, coach or other team representative that does not involve contact with an opponent or causes contact with an opponent while the ball is dead. Technical fouls include unsporting conduct.
Flagrant foul-A violent or unsporting act or a noncontact, abusive display; not necessarily intentional. A flagrant personal or flagrant technical foul carries a two-shot penalty plus possession of the ball in addition to ejection from the game.
Intentional foul- One that the official judges to be designed, or is not a legitimate attempt to directly play the ball or a player; not based on severity of the act. If a player uses excessive force or causes excessive contact while playing the ball, the foul also should be ruled intentional.
Player-control foul-A common foul committed by the player who is holding or dribbling a live ball.
Double foul-Opponents commit simultaneous personal or technical fouls against each other.
Multiple foul- Two or more teammates commit simultaneous personal fouls against the same opponent.
FREE THROW-The privilege given a player to score one point by an unhindered try for goal from behind the free-throw line.
FRONT COURT, BACK COURT-A team’s frontcourt is the part between the division line and its own (basket) end line; its backcourt is the rest of the court, including the opponent’s basket. During a dribble from backcourt to frontcourt, the ball and both feet must be completely in the frontcourt for the dribbler to be considered in the frontcourt.
FUMBLE- accidental loss of player control by dropping the ball or permitting it to slip from one’s grasp.
GOALTENDING-Applies during a try for a field goal or free throw, or when a tapped ball is in flight toward the tap-per’s basket. The ball may not be touched while it is above ring level and has the possibility of entering the basket. Three points are awarded for goaltending a three-point attempt. Two points are awarded the tapper or shooter when an opponent violates the goaltending provisions during a two-point attempt. Interfering with a free throw is a technical foul. No points may be scored when a teammate of the tapper or shooter commits a goaltending violation.
GUARDING-Guarding is the act of legally placing the body in the path of an offensive opponent. There is no minimum distance required between the guard and opponent, but the maximum is six feet when closely guarded. Every player is entitled to a spot on the floor provided such players get there first without illegally contacting an opponent.
To establish an initial legal guarding position on the player with the ball:
The defensive player must have both feet touching the floor;
The defensive player’s torso must be facing the opponent;
No time and distance are required; and
If the opponent with the ball is airborne, the defensive player must have established legal position before the opponent left the floor.
To establish legal guarding position on the player without the ball:
Time and distance are factors required to establish an initial legal position;
The defensive player must give the opponent the time and distance to avoid contact;
The distance need not be more than two strides; and If the opponent is airborne, the defensive player must have established legal position before the opponent left the floor.
If the opponent is airborne, the defensive player must have established legal position before the opponent left the floor.
HELD BALL-When opponents grasp the ball so firmly that control cannot be obtained without undue roughness.
HOLDING- Illegal personal contact with an opponent that interferes with that player’s freedom of movement.
JUMP BALL-A method of putting the ball into play at the start of the game and all overtimes by tossing it up between two opponents in the center circle.
KICKING-A violation when it is an intentional act. Accidentally striking the ball with the foot or leg is not a violation.
LOCATION OF A PLAYER-Where a player is touching the floor determines the location inbounds or out of bounds or in the frontcourt or the backcourt. When the player is jumping or leaping, the location is determined by where the player last touched the floor. For instance, if a player leaps over the side or end boundaries to retrieve a ball before either the player or the ball touches any object out of bounds, the player is considered inbounds when the ball is touched. Except during a throw-in, when a player is in the air from a leap or when a defensive player intercepts a ball while in the air, the player’s status with reference to the back court and front court or out of bounds and inbounds is the same as at the time the player was last in contact with the floor.
PASS-Movement of the ball from one player to another, usually by throwing, bouncing or rolling it.
PIVOT-When a player holding the ball steps any number of times in any direction with the same foot, while the other (pivot foot) holds its point of contact with the floor.
SCREEN- Legal action by a player to delay or prevent an opponent from reaching a desired position without causing conflict.
SHOT-CLOCK PERIOD-The time a team has from gaining possession of the ball until the ball must leave a player’s hand on a shot. The shot-clock period is 35 seconds for men and 30 seconds for women.
SHOT-CLOCK TRY-A try for field goal is defined as the ball having left the player’s hand(s) before the sounding of the shot-clock horn and subsequently striking the basket ring or entering the basket.
T H R OW-IN- A method of putting the ball in play from out of bounds in accordance with Rule 7.
TRAVELING-Essentially, only a single step can be taken while holding the ball. Anything else is traveling, also called “walking” or “steps.”
TRY FOR FIELD GOAL-An attempt by a player to score two or three points by throwing or tapping the ball into the basket from any place on the court. The act of shooting begins when a player starts the motion for a try and ends when the ball is in flight. When play is resumed by a throw-in and three-tenths (.3) of a second or less is on the game or shot clock, a player can score a field goal only on a tap.
VERTICALITY-Verticality applies to a legal position. The basic components of the principle of verticality are:
Legal guarding position must be established and attained initially, and movement thereafter must be legal;
From this position, the defender may rise or jump vertically and occupy the space within his or her vertical plane;
The hands and arms of the defender may be raised within his or her vertical plane while the defender is on the floor or in the air;
The defender should not be penalized for leaving the floor vertically or having his or her hands and arms extended within the vertical plane;
The offensive player whether on the floor or airborne may not clear out or cause contact that is a foul;
The defender may not “belly up” or use the lower part of the body or arms to cause contact that is a foul outside his or her vertical plane;
The player with the ball is to be given no more protection or consideration than the defender in the judging of which player has violated the rules.
VIOLATION- Lesser rules infraction for which the penalty normally does not involve a free throw (see Rule 9).
UNOFFICIAL TERMS -Among the terms that are not defined in the official rules book but have become common to the unofficial language of basketball are:
AIRBALL- shot that does not hit the rim, net, backboard or a defender’s hand.
A L L EY-O OP-A teammate cuts to the basket from the side away from the ball as the passer lobs the ball in the vicinity of the rim, but not on the rim or in the cylinder. The pass is caught outside the rim and then dunked into the basket.
ASSIST- A pass to a teammate who scores directly or doesn’t dribble more than twice before scoring a field goal.
BACKDOOR-An offensive maneuver whereby a player cuts behind the defenders and receives a pass for a field-goal attempt.
BALL CONTROL-An offense that prolongs possession of the ball by delaying a field goal try until an advantageous moment.
BALL-HANDLER-Player who habitually advances the ball from his or her team’s backcourt to the frontcourt, initiating the attack.
BALL HAWK- Player who specializes in recovering loose balls.
BASELINE- The end boundary line.
BENCH WARMER- A substitute who seldom plays.
BOXING OUT- The defensive player turns and faces the basket after a shot and, with his or her back to the opponent, makes sure that the player being guarded can’t rebound the ball.
CARRYING- Same as traveling.
CENTER-Usually the tallest on the team, this player typically is positioned somewhere in the center of the frontcourt.
CHARITY STRIPE- The free-throw line.
CONVERSION-SUCCESSFUL free throw, turning a try into a point.
DOUBLE DRIBBLE-Player continues dribbling after touching the ball with both hands. Also called when a player stops and then resumes dribbling without having shot or passed the ball. A violation.
DOWNTOWN-Previously referred to as a shot that was considered too distant for the normal shooter to take. Now it is referred to as a three-point attempt.
DRIVE-TO move the ball by dribbling past defenders for a field-goal attempt from directly underneath or very close to either side of the basket.
FAST BREAK-Attempt to advance the ball quickly to a scoring position before defensive players can reach their backcourt.
FORWARDS- Players (Usually two per team) who typically on offense are stationed on either side of the free-throw lane and near the baseline.
FRONTLINERS- Collective term for the two forwards and center.
FULL-COURT PRESS-Closely guarding opponents in their back court as well as in their front court. The strategy of applying tough defensive pressure even before the ball is inbounded and continuing that strong pressure while the offensive team has the ball. The defensive pressure is used to force a turnover.
GIVE-AND-GO-Player passes to a teammate and races for the basket, anticipating a return pass.
GUARDS-Players (usually two per team) who typically station themselves on offense in the back half of their frontcourt and who generally initiate the offensive attack.
HAND-CHECKING- Illegal use of hands.
HIGH POST- A player who is stationed in or near the free-throw semicircle on offense.
HOOK- A one-handed field-goal attempt in which the ball travels in an arch from the shooter’ s side over the head.
HOOP-The basket; also called the bucket.
JUMP SHOT-Field-goal attempt by a player with both feet off the floor, enabling the player to shoot over a defender.
KEY- The area at either end of the court that includes the free-throw semicircle and lane.
LAYUP-Field-goal attempt by a player directly underneath or close in to either side of the basket.
LOW POST-Differs from high post in that a player is stationed just outside the free-throw lane close to his or her own basket.
MAN-TO-MAN DEFENSE-Each player guards an assigned opponent.
OUTLET PASS-A quick pass from the rebounder to a teammate to start the fast break.
OVERTIME-one or more extra periods to break a tie score.
PALMING- In the traveling family.
PAITERN OFFENSE-An offensive system in which the players run predetermined patterns in order to get a player in the open for a field-goal attempt.
PERIMETER SHOOTER-A player who scores primarily from long range, in contrast to the inside players who score primarily from short distances.
PICK-Same as screen.
POINT GUARD-The player who directs and controls the offense and is responsible for getting the ball to teammates for them to shoot.
POWER FORWARD-The forward that excels in rebounding and defense. Usually the physically stronger of the forwards.
REBOUND- Recovery of the ball after an unsuccessful goal try. Also called a carom.
RUN AND GUN-similar to fast break.
STEPS-same as traveling.
STUFFING-Same as dunking.
SWISH-A successful field-goal attempt (usually from long range) that does not touch the basket rim.
SWITCHING-When two or more players on the same team change assignments because a teammate has been blocked off because of a legal screen. Most switching takes place when man-to-man defenses are used.
THREE-Score three points for a shot taken beyond the three-point arc.
TIME LINE-The division line across mid-court, so called because in men’s basketball, the attacking team must advance the ball across it to the front court within 10 seconds after gaining possession. There is no time limit in women’s basketball.
TIP-IN-A successful field-goal attempt on a rebound.
TIP-OFF-The jump ball that starts the game and any overtime period.
TRANSITION GAME- To change from offense to defense efficiently and smoothly.
TRAP-Whezn two or three defensive players position themselves to prevent the player with the ball from moving with the ball or passing it.
TURNOVER-Any loss of possession without a goal attempt.
TWO (OR THREE) ON ONE-Two (or three) players converging on a basket with a lone defender between them and a field-goal attempt.
WALKING- same as traveling.
WING-A forward who on offense plays farther away from the basket toward the sideline than is usual.
ZONE DEFENSE-Players cover assigned court areas, rather than specific opponents. May also be called l-3-1, 2-l -2, 2-2-l or l-2-2 zones, to indicate the number of defenders in each of three lines parallel to the baseline.