Basketball shots simplified for any beginner

Have you ever watched a basketball game, wondering what on earth the commentators are talking about? Don’t worry, we have got you covered. We go through all the basketball shots and simplify the terminology.


Before going into the types of basketball shots we breakdown the actual parts of the basketball stand.

It includes:

  • The backboard
  • The hoop
  • The net

The backboard is a piece of tempered glass behind the net. It is used for rebounding the ball into the net or back onto the court.

The hoop is how a player scores points. Players must throw the basketball through the hoop from above to score points. (Very straightforward)

The net’s purpose is to slow down the basketball and confirm a point was scored.



The alley-oop is one of the hardest basketball shots to master because it involves two players. It’s also quite a funny term. One player bounces/throws the ball to another teammate. This teammate jumps in the air and nets the ball before their feet touch the ground. The term is derived from the french saying “allez hop” meaning the ‘cry of an acrobat about to leap’.


Bank Shot

A bank shot is a shot that hits the backboard before landing in the net. This shot solely relies on hitting the backboard correctly for the basketball to land in the net. To master this shot, understanding the backboard is vital. The shot generally has a high scoring rate.


Buzzer Beater

If you only have under 10 seconds left on the court this is the shot to take! A buzzer beater is a shot that is taken before the game cock buzzes. However the shot is only valid if the ball leaves the players hand before the buzzer sounds.

e.g. If the ball leaves the players hand one second before the buzzer goes off, but lands in the net after the buzzer goes off, the point is still valid.

Hook Shot

A hook shot is one of the best inside moves but one of the hardest shots to take. The shot is performed by standing sideways and swinging the arm over the defensive player in an arc. This is all whilst jumping off one foot instead of two. The shot takes skill and daily practice. Hook shots come in two variations; the jump hook and the sky hook.


Jump Shot

The clue is in the name. It is a mid to long range shot where a shot is taken in mid-air. The jump shot involves a lot of power in the jump. Who would have thought! The jumping helps to give the shooter a height advantage over the defensive player.


Lay-up’s are one of the most used shots in basketball. It is a easy shot for any beginner. Simply hit the back of the board with the ball and into the net.

A lay-up shot is taken near the net from a sideways angle. Once the shot has been mastered, the ball should roll off the fingertips and into the net. There are many variations of the lay-up including the; underarm, overarm, backwards, power and reverse.

Slam Dunk/Jam

The crowd goes wild and a basketball player is hanging off the edge of the hoop! This is also known as a ‘Slam-Dunk’. This basketball shot requires more jumping than shooting skills. It is taken in close proximity to the net, with the player jumping and slamming the ball into the basket.

During the 1940’s ‘slam dunks’ weren’t really a thing. According to Bob Kurkland (the first player to score a slam-dunk) it was only considered a high percentage shot. However fast forward to the 80’s and the slam dunk contest is created.


Hopefully we’ve simplified the different types of basketball shots. If we haven’t why not practice a few of these shots at one of our courts @Mylocalpitch



Image Credit: All images are copyright free and available at Pixabay & Pexels.