Play Ball Sports Terms Study Guide

Updated on Jul 15, 2011

Practice exercises for this study guide can be found at:

Play Ball Sports Terms Practice Exercises

Sports are mighty popular in this country. Whether you're sitting on the couch watching them with the remote in hand, waiting on the sidelines cheering on your favorite player, or playing on the field as one of the team, it's important to know the different terms used. Otherwise, you can't know what the player's done wrong—or right—or why the crowd is cheering—or booing! Following are some terms from the nation's favorite sports.



  • audible   verbal commands shouted to teammates by the quarterback at the line of scrimmage to change a play on short notice
  • encroachment   when a player (besides the center) is in the neutral zone and contact occurs prior to the snap; a foul punishable by a five-yard penalty
  • fumble   when a ball carrier loses possession of the ball by dropping it or having it knocked away before the play ends; the first player to regain possession of the loose ball is said to make the recovery
  • interception   a pass caught in the air by a defender whose team immediately gains possession of the ball and becomes the offense
  • punt   occurs when a player ten yards behind the center catches a snap, drops it, and kicks it before it hits the ground


  • bunt   a short hit executed by letting the ball hit the bat (not swinging at it); used to surprise fielders or advance a runner
  • doubleheader   two games played back-to-back on the same day by the same teams
  • homer   a batted ball that flies in fair territory and allows a runner to round the bases and score a run
  • slider   a pitch that looks to a batter like a fastball, but breaks sharply when it reaches the plate
  • switch-hitter   a player who can bat left- or right-handed


  • dribble   repeatedly bounce the ball with one hand; used to advance the ball or keep control of it
  • free throw   an unguarded shot from the foul line by a player who has been fouled by an opposing player; worth one point
  • layup   a shot taken by leaping up under the basket and using one hand to bounce the ball off the backboard into the basket.
  • pivot   a movement in which one foot must remain on the floor at all times while moving the other to pass or shoot the ball
  • rebound   when a player grabs a ball coming off the rim or backboard after a shot


  • breakaway   when an attacker with the ball approaches the goal undefended, pitting the attacker against the goalkeeper in a one-to-one showdown
  • flick header   a player's use of his or her head to deflect the ball
  • hat trick   three or more goals scored in a game by a single player
  • juggling   keeping the ball in the air with any part of the body other than the hands or arms; typically used for practice to develop coordination
  • shielding   a technique used by a ball carrier to protect the ball from a defender; the ball carrier keeps his or her body between the ball and the defender

Practice exercises for this study guide can be found at:

Play Ball Sports Terms Practice Exercises

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