14 Vocabulary Words for English Learners Going on a Basketball Date

(Beginner English Learners: Definitions for Basketball and This Post Are Added Inside this Blog Post. Enjoy!)

Hi English Language Lover,

So your next date will involve basketball, and you don’t know a lot about the game or any vocabulary… what should you know? Okay, well this question depends on what you plan to do on your date. Are you planning to play or watch basketball?

Hehe, let me give you advice. Getting sweaty on a date is never fun unless your date is super athletic. Don’t force your date to play basketball unless you know that he or she wants to go on this kind of date.

In this blog, we will go over the basics of playing basketball. Then, you will learn basketball vocabulary words to help you talk about the game while on your date.

Getting Started

The main point of basketball is to throw a ball into a hole (hoop) on the top of a tall pole. Each time the ball is thrown through the hole, a point is given to the person or team that threw the ball. The person or team that has the most points at the end of the game is the winner. Points are given by three actions: 1) throwing the ball from behind the 3-point line, 2) throwing the ball anywhere in front of the 3-point line, 3) or throwing the ball as a free throw (we will talk about this later).

Making Points

Okay, so we just talked about three ways that game players can receive points. Some throws are worth more points than others. Let’s go over these now.

To throw the ball into the hoop from behind the 3-point line = 3 points

To throw the ball into the hoop from anywhere in front of the 3-point line = 2 points

To throw the ball into the hoop as a free throw = 1 point

A ‘free throw’ is the term used when a player is allowed to throw the ball because the other player or the other team made a mistake. Mistakes in the game of basketball are called fouls.

The Players

To play basketball, you only need two people. A two player game is called one-on-one. To play basketball with a team, you need at least five players per team; this means, no more than ten players are playing on the court at one time. The court is the area/space where the game is played. Of course, a team may want extra players in case someone gets is hurt; extra players are called substitutes. Since only five team players can be on the court at a time, substitutes can only enter the game when another team player leaves the court.


Basketball games usually end at a certain time, but sometimes, games may continue for longer than normal. For example, if the game is meant to end at 5 o’clock, but at 5 o’clock both teams have 20 of points, overtime will be added to the game. Overtime is extra time added to the game, and it lasts for only five minutes. ‘Overtime’ will continue to be added to the game until a team gains enough points to beat the other team.


Since there is so much to be said about the game of basketball, there is not enough time to talk about everything in this article; but, this should be enough information to help you talk about the game while on your date. Let’s move on to definitions.

You should study these words and phrases to impress your date! In English, some words will have more than one meaning, so these words may have different meanings when not speaking of basketball.

  1. Hoops (noun) (slang word) – used to refer to the game of basketball
  2. Dribble (verb) – to quickly bounce a ball
  3. Dunk (verb) – to push a ball through the circular ring (through the basket)
  4. Loose Ball – a ball rolling on the floor, not in the control of any team
  5. Basket (noun) – the circular ring that players throw a ball through
  6. Shooting (verb) – throwing the ball
  7. Foul (noun) – a mistake made during a game
  8. Free Throw – A free turn given to the opposite team because someone on the other team made a foul.
  9. Out of Bounds – when the ball is thrown outside of the playing area
  10. Rebound – when a team’s ball misses the hoop, but somehow they are still able to keep the ball out of the hands of the other team
  11. Timeout – when a game is paused to remove an injured player from the playing area; when a game is paused to give each team some time to think of a strategy to win the game
  12. Bleachers (noun) – the area where people sit to watch the game
  13. Referee (noun) – a person who helps basketball teams make decisions about points without bias
  14. Jersey (noun) – a shirt worn by basketball players with their number

Here are a few vocabulary words for beginners reading this blog post. Please remember that in English, some words will have several meanings. These definitions will only apply to the way these words were used in this blog post.

  1. Depends (verb) – when the decision to make an action is connected to the decision to make another action
  2. Planning (verb) – to decide to do something
  3. Sweaty (adjective) – to have a lot of sweat on it
  4. Athletic (adjective) – very active in sports
  5. Force (verb) – to make yourself/someone do something
  6. Point/Points (noun) – a term used to count the score of a game
  7. Team (noun) – a group of people helping each other to win a game
  8. Actions (noun) – the state of doing something
  9. Receive (verb) – to be given something
  10. Extra (adjective) – more than what is usual
  11. Beat (verb) – to defeat; to play better than the other team
  12. Impress (verb) – to cause someone to think well of you
  13. Apply (verb) – to be used during a certain time or to be used for a certain thing
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