English-Spanish Basketball Glossary

Glosario de baloncesto

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

If you want to talk basketball in Spanish, here are the words to do it.

Since its origins in the late 18th century in Massachusetts, basketball has become an international sport. But it continues to be dominated by the United States, 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 even 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) al 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
refereeel/la árbitro, el/la referee
rookieel novato, la novata, el/la rookie
screen (noun)el bloqueo
screen (verb)bloquear
scrimmagela escaramuza
seasonla temporada
shoottirar
shooting guardel/la escolta
shotel tiro
teamel equipo
technical foulla falta técnica
timeoutel tiempo muerto
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 these words are 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.)
  • La temporada 2016-17 de la NBA es la septuagésimo primera temporada de la historia de la competición. (The 2016-187 season of the NBA is the 71st season in the history of the competition. Note that the abbreviation "NBA" is treated as feminine because asociación, the word for association, is feminine.)
  • Dos tiros libres dan 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.)
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Erichsen, Gerald. "English-Spanish Basketball Glossary." ThoughtCo, Apr. 15, 2017, thoughtco.com/english-spanish-basketball-glossary-3079950. Erichsen, Gerald. (2017, April 15). English-Spanish Basketball Glossary. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/english-spanish-basketball-glossary-3079950 Erichsen, Gerald. "English-Spanish Basketball Glossary." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/english-spanish-basketball-glossary-3079950 (accessed January 16, 2018).