What Is A Field Goal In Basketball?

Justin D. Johnson
Justin D. Johnson

I get it. Basketball terminologies can be a bit confusing, especially as a newbie in the sport. This is especially true for those like me who just watched their first basketball game last week and are just beginning to learn and be familiar with it.

Basketball is a very popular sport that dominates American culture in various forms. From TV shows, movies, associations, and even books, there is so much information about this sport that it can get you overwhelmed as to where exactly to start.

It can be very helpful in your overall experience with this highly captivating sport to know even some little things about it, such as how a basketball game is played and what field goals are.

Stick around with this blog, and you’ll learn some of the basics in no time.

What Are Field Goals In Basketball (FG), You Say?

“Wait… basketball has goals?” – You speak out in confused disbelief after seeing only a hoop that looks far too small to be called a goal.

No, not those field goals where football players try to kick or throw a ball into a net/hula-hoop to score points or get first downs. I’m talking about those tall poles with basketball rings that are placed before every goal, and they say “FIELD GOAL” on them.

Wait, Why Are There Goals In Basketball?

I’m glad you asked. The goal (usually using the terms “basket” or “hoop”) is how a basketball player scores points.

The hoop/basket is placed in such a way that players need to jump high enough to shoot the ball into it. This will also make it harder for defenders to intercept or stop them from scoring points.

Of course! And these goals aren’t just there to look pretty; they serve a very important purpose in the game.

So, what are goals for?

Basketball is a team sport where players of one team pass and dribble the ball down the court so they can shoot it into one of the hoops before another player on the opposing team does that same thing. The number of points scored depends on how far away the player is when they shoot.

For every successful shot, the player scores 2 points unless they manage to successfully complete a “three-point field goal,” in which case they get 3 points for it.

Types Of Field Goals

There are many different types of shots in basketball, but the most common one is a field goal.

A field goal can happen when you shoot the ball from inside or outside the three-point line. The only exception being Free Throws.

The shot must go through the net for it to count as a point and not be considered an out-of-bounds violation. If you make a shot that goes off the backboard and then through, this is counted as two points.

Three-Point Field Goals

A three-point field goal is usually made from outside the 3-point arc. If you aren’t aware, this line is a semicircle that goes around the basket. In the NBA, it’s placed 23 feet and 9 inches away from where it meets the backboard (the large square board behind the hoop that players can use to rebound missed shots).

In case you’re wondering why it’s measured from where it meets the backboard and not from the basket itself, well, that’s because a player must be behind the three-point line at any given time when they shoot, or else they get counted for traveling.

In fact, there are many other rules to the three-point shot that I won’t get into because this would require another lengthy blog post.

But believe me, if you’re in a competitive game and you’re wondering whether or not they counted your three-point field goal (or are planning to), these little details can be critical.

Two-Point Field Goals

A two-point field goal is a shot that goes up and through the net but is made inside the three-point line. As the name suggests, it is worth 2 points. These shots can be made closer to the hoop or from farther away while remaining inside the arc.

These types of shots are also considered to be one of the easiest. As a result, they often lead to successful point-scoring plays because players can quickly rebound the ball if it misses, or a defender might not have time to block them.

Are Free Throws Considered As Field Goals?

No, these are not considered to be field goals.

A free throw is when you shoot the ball after your team gets fouled. To get fouled, another player must commit either a shooting or non-shooting foul. Shooting fouls can happen inside the three-point line or outside of it. Still, they’re usually committed by players trying to stop a shot from going in.

Non-shooting fouls, meanwhile, occur when players foul opponents when they are not in the act of shooting. If a player commits this type of foul, their team may be awarded free throws that they can shoot.

Of course, there are some exceptions to the rules depending on where each basketball game is being played. For example, the NBA (North American Basketball Association) has its own rules that are different from other leagues.

What Is Field Goal Percentage In Basketball?

You’ve probably heard the commentator bring up a player’s field goal percentage a few times in a game and wondered what it means. Understanding the details of this statistic can help you appreciate your favorite players’ skills and why they might be high or low-percentage shooters.

Here’s a little background on the statistic to help you understand it better.

So, what exactly is Field Goal Percentage?

Field goal percentage is simply a way of measuring how successful an attempt at scoring in basketball is, such as a shot from the free-throw line or a layup. It measures the number of points scored divided by the number of shots taken. If a player scores five shots during a game and tallies 10 points, her field goal percentage is 50 percent.

As already discussed, a field goal is defined as any shot made during play that, if successful, would count as two or three points. If the player scores in another way, like from the free-throw line, it doesn’t count as a field goal. The only exception to this rule is offensive rebounds. This means that if a player grabs her own missed shot and puts it in for two points, the field goal is counted.

In other words, only shots that are made during regular play count towards field goal percentage. This definitely includes shots made from inside the three-point line, but players can also rack up field goals by getting offensive rebounds outside of the line.

What Is Effective Field Goal Percentage?

Another stat you should know about is the effective field goal percentage.

eFG% takes into account the fact that three-pointers count for three points and two-pointers count for two points. That arguably makes it a better indicator of a player’s overall shooting ability.

The equation for eFG% is as follows:

(2pt FGM + 1.5*3pt FGM) / FGA

If you’re confused by all the maths, let me help you.

The objective of the effective field goal percentage is to express a player’s field goals as a function of how many points they are potentially worth.

This equation expresses this idea by adding the number of two-pointers and three-pointers made, adjusted with a factor of 1.5, which reflects that a three-pointer is one and half times more valuable than a two-pointer.

The original Field Goal Percentage did not account for the difficulty and rarity of scoring three-pointers in comparison to two-point shots. So the formula was adjusted to calculate effective field goal percentage, thus taking into account that a three-point shot is worth 50% more than a two-pointer.

What Are Layups And How Do They Affect Field Goal Percentage?

Layup is another word for an easy shot from fairly close range.

People who play basketball spend hours practicing layups to make them as effortless and automatic as possible because the payoff is a high shooting percentage.

A layup is when a player jumps and rebounds the ball off the backboard and then puts it in the basket. There are several different types of layup shots in basketball, like the finger rolls or double between the legs, etc.

Layups are one of the easiest shots you can take because they have a high probability of being made.

Last Quarter

In basketball, a field goal is when the ball goes through the hoop from inside or outside of the three-point line. Free Throws do not count towards this metric.

I hope you’re also clear about why a higher Field Goal Percentage (FG%) makes someone a better shooter.

Effective Field Goal Percentage shows the effectiveness of a player’s shooting over all their attempts at scoring points on two different types of shots.

Justin D. Johnson
Justin D. Johnson
Justin is a PhD student at Stanford University and has been a basketball youth coach for over ten years. He is passionate about sports, cinema, astronomy, and sharing knowledge.