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March Madness + Basketball Vocabulary in English

March 3, 2018

March is a fun time for basketball fans: it’s March Madness! March Madness is the tournament for U.S. college basketball teams in the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association). It is called “madness” because of the excitement it creates: 68 teams begin the tournament, and many basketball fans participate in March Madness by playing a game where they try to predict the winning team.

To celebrate March Madness, we are looking at some basketball vocabulary in English. How many of these vocabulary words do you know? Learn them before you watch your next basketball game!

Basketball Vocabulary in English

Block

Definition: To use one’s arms to stop a person from shooting or passing a basketball.

Example: Sanders blocked Jones as Jones was trying to shoot the ball.

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Bounce

Definition: The action a ball makes when you throw it on the ground and it goes into the air. In basketball, bouncing the ball means hitting the ball with your palm so that it repeatedly goes up and down.

Example: He can bounce the ball with his eyes closed.

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Dribble

Definition: In basketball, players must bounce the ball with one hand while running or walking.

Example: The player fell while he was dribbling the ball down the court.

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Double-dribble

Definition: If a player puts both hands on the ball while dribbling, the player must stop moving. (Now, the player has two options: shoot the ball or pass the ball.) If a player tries to move again, this is called double-dribbling.

Example: Our player double-dribbled so the referee gave the ball to the other team.

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Dunk

Definition: To jump and put the ball into the basket with your hand.

Example: My cousin can dunk the ball!

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Foul

Definition: To hit another player’s body. (This can also be used as a noun: a foul is called when a player fouls another.)

Example: She accidentally hit the other’s players arm, so the referee called a foul.

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Free throw

Definition: After a player is fouled, the player gets a free throw. A free throw is made by the basket. (The player gets a chance to throw the ball into the basket, without other players trying to take the ball.)

Example: He scored 1 point when he made the free throw.

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Jump shot

Definition: When a player jumps into the air and then shoots the ball.

Example: Look at his jumpshot! What skill!

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Layup

Definition: When a player runs with the ball and shoots the ball very close to the basket.

Example: We practiced layups during practice today.

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Referee

Definition: The person who makes sure all rules are followed during the game.

Example: The referee has been working for this team for 10 years.

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Shot clock

Definition: A timer that is running. A team has 24 seconds to shoot the ball.

Example: Is the shot clock still running? Shoot the ball!!

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Time out

Definition: Teams have “time outs” they can use during the game. A time out stops the clock for the game.

Example: We called a time out to plan our next play.

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Travel

Definition: When a player tries to walk without dribbling the basketball.

Example: The referee caught her traveling.

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