English-Spanish Basketball Glossary

Glosario de baloncesto

Basketball dunk
Hace el dunk. (He makes the dunk.). Noam Galai/Getty Images

Since its origins in late-18th-century Massachusetts, basketball has become an international sport. It continues to be dominated by the United States, however, so it shouldn't be surprising that much of the Spanish-language vocabulary of the game comes from English. In fact, even in Spanish-speaking countries, English terms may be understood more readily than their Spanish equivalents.

The Spanish vocabulary for the sport developed somewhat independently in various regions, so terms can vary not only between Spain and Latin America, but also between neighboring countries. Even the name of the game isn't uniform throughout the Spanish-speaking world. The vocabulary below represents some of the most common terms used by Spanish speakers, but it shouldn't be considered complete.

Basketball Terms In Spanish

  • air ballel air ball
  • assist (noun)la asistencia
  • backboardel tablero
  • bank shotel tiro a tabla
  • basket (goal)el cesto, la canasta
  • basket (score)la canasta, el enceste
  • basketball (ball)el balón, la pelota
  • basketball (game)el baloncesto, el básquetbol, el basquetbol, el básquet
  • box scoreel box score, el sumario
  • centerel/la pívot
  • cheerleaderla animadora, el animador, el/la cheerleader
  • coachel entrenador, la entrenadora
  • cornerla esquina
  • court (playing field)la pista, la cancha
  • defenddefender
  • dribble (noun)el drible, la finta, la bota, el dribbling
  • dribble (verb)driblar
  • dunk (noun)el mate, el dunk
  • fast breakel ataque rápido, el contraataque
  • forwardel/la alero
  • free throwel tiro libre
  • half, quarter (period of play)el periodo, el período
  • hook shotel gancho
  • jump ballel salto entre dos
  • jump passel pase en suspensión
  • jump shotel tiro en suspensión
  • keyla botella, la zona de tres segundos
  • man-to-man (defense)(la defensa) hombre a hombre, (la defensa) a hombre
  • offenseel ataque
  • overtimela prórroga, el tiempo añadido, el tiempo extra
  • pass (noun)el pase
  • pass (verb)pasar
  • personal foulla falta personal
  • pivot (verb)pivotear
  • play (noun, as in "three-point play")la jugada (la jugada de tres puntos)
  • playerel jugador, la jugadora, el/la baloncestista
  • playoffla liguilla, la eliminatoria, el playoff
  • point (score)el punto
  • point guardel/la base, el armador, la armadora
  • postel poste
  • power forwardel/la alero fuerte, el/la ala-pívot
  • press (noun)la presión
  • rebound (noun)el rebote
  • rebound (verb)rebotar
  • record — el récord
  • refereeel/la árbitro, el/la referee
  • rookieel novato, la novata, el/la rookie
  • screen (noun)el bloqueo
  • screen (verb)bloquear
  • scrimmagela escaramuza
  • seasonla temporada
  • seed, seeded (as in a tournament)  la clasificación, clasificado
  • shoottirar
  • shooting guardel/la escolta
  • shotel tiro
  • teamel equipo
  • technical foulla falta técnica
  • timeout el tiempo muerto
  • tip-off  salto entre dos
  • tournamentel torneo
  • turnoverel balón perdido, la pelota perdida, el turnover
  • warmupel calentamiento
  • wingel/la alero
  • zone defensela defensa en zona
  • zone offenseel ataque zonal
  • zone pressel marcaje en zona

Sample Spanish Sentences About Basketball

These sentences have been adapted from current online publications to show how Spanish basketball terminology is used in real life.

  • Cuando caigo hago dos movimiento de pivot y luego paso la pelota. (When I fall, I do two pivoting movements and then I pass the ball.)
  • Pérez convirtió una jugada de tres puntos con 18.2 segundos por jugar en el tiempo extra. (Pérez converted a three-point play with 18.2 seconds left in overtime.)
  • Los ganadores de cada región avanzan a la Final Four. (The winners in each region advance to the Final Four.)
    • "Final Four" is feminine because the reference is to la ronda Final Four, or the Final Four round.
  • La temporada 2018–19 de la NBA es la septuagésimo tercera temporada de la historia de la competición. (The 2018–19 season of the NBA is the 73rd season in the history of the competition.)
    • Note that the abbreviation "NBA" is treated as feminine because asociación, the word for "association," is feminine.
  • El proceso de clasificación para el torneo de la NCAA consta de los torneos de cada conferencia. (The seeding process for the NCAA tournament is made up of the tournaments of each conference.)
  • El torneo es de eliminación directa y no existen partidos de consolación. (The tournament is single-elimination and there are no consolation games.)
  • Dos tiros libres dieron la victoria a los Bulls. (Two free throws gave the win to the Bulls.)
  • Una falta personal implica un contacto con el adversario mientras el balón está en juego. (A personal foul involves contact with an opposing player while the ball is in play.)