What is a field goal basketball?

field goal basketball

Written by Aliesha

October 26, 2021

A free throw is not the only thing you can score in basketball. You might be wondering what a field goal is and how it’s scored. A field goal basketball happens when you make a basket during the play, except for the free throw. The idea of this article is to help explain what some of these terms mean and how they’re scored in basketball so you can all get better at playing your favorite sport!

Score to win: Field goal basketball

In basketball, a “field goal” is scored when the player shoots from beyond the three-point line and goes through the basket. In short, a field goal is worth either two or three points. As long as the shot happens in inbounds, you can score a point. But why is this play important? Let’s find out. 

Definition of field goal basketball

The easiest way to score in basketball is by making a field goal. This is a shot worth two or three points, depending on its distance from the basket. This type of play is also uncommonly scored at one point in FIBA 3×3 competitions or four points in BIG3 League matches. 

The term “field goal” is an official one in the NBA, NCAA, and high school basketball. This means it’s used by both shots that fall within these sports’ rules as well as when referring to statistics or referees’ rulings on the fly during games.

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How to make a field goal basketball

Field goals can be as simple and basic as a jump shot, or they could take on many different forms such as layups, slam dunks, and tip-ins. 


A layup is when an offensive player drives to the basket and attempts a two-point field goal from inside the paint area without making contact with the rim. 

Slam dunks

A slam dunk is one type of field goal basketball, and this occurs when a player jumps near the basket with possession. The ball flies through air as they throw it down into their own hoop while airborne.


If a basketball player misses their shot, they can tap the ball into the hoop just as it is rolling off of its rim. This ‘tip in’ will count as one point for them and give them another chance at scoring!

Calculation of field goal

When it comes to basketball, statistics are all around us. The most common way players measure their field goal efficiency is by looking at three different measurements: FGMs count how many shots they make from any distance while FGA’s total number of attempts and percentage distribution reflect success rates for every type of shot taken off the floor or close range within these parameters.

The stats on a sheet are represented as ‘FG’ and there are three main statistics players keep track of when measuring field goal efficiency. Field goals made (FGM), attempted fields goals (FFA), and percentage – this can be referred to as shooting percent or just FG%.

Effective field goal

To calculate effective field goal percentage, you first need to add up all the two-point baskets made. Then multiply that number by 1.5 and finally add the result to the number of the two-point field goals made. 

Once you have that number, divide it by the total number of two-pointers attempted and multiply by 100. This is what percentage better than normal shooting would look like. Since three-pointers are more difficult, they should be rewarded even further.

Make each shot count! 

Highest earned field goal basketball

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is the all-time leading scorer in NBA history, with over 15k field goals made. Meanwhile, Wilt Chamberlain holds four of five top spots for most field goal attempts and has an amazing 72% success rate! 

The highest field goal percentage for a single season was set by Mitchell Robinson in the abbreviated 2019-20 NBA campaign. He achieved 74.2% and ranks among some of history’s greatest shooters, such as Michael Jordan who has led his league ten times with high shooting percentages.

Furthermore, Shaquille O’Neal is the king of shooting, holding a record for 10 seasons with the best field goal percentage as well as the highest career FG% at 59%. Steve Nash also held many great marks in two-point baskets 50-40 90 which means he was one if not the greatest all-around shooter ever seen on the court!

Shots that matter

Field goals give players an opportunity to get on board by putting themselves into more offensive positions from which they can score at their leisure. This especially increases efficiency while decreasing chance-taking plays like hoisting jumpers outside their range or passing out when there’s room under coverage.

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