What is a Field Goal in Basketball?

what is a field goal in basketball

A field goal during a basketball game is a basket scored from any part of the court. Field goals all have a value between one and three points depending on where the shot took place. Some examples include making a free throw, a layup, or hitting a successful three-point shot.


So, why do fans and players call it a field goal? What are the different types of FG shots that someone can take during a basketball game? What is a good field goal shooting percentage shot and what the equation?


Here is the complete breakdown of the field goal, the different types, examples, and more during a basketball game.


Why Is it Called a Field Goal in Basketball?

why is it called a field goal in basketball

In basketball, the court or playing surface is often called the “field” or “field of play.” That means that any baskets scored from the court come from the “field” This common use of basketball terminology is how most people believe the term field goal became popular.


Referring to the basketball court as a “field” is common. It’s generally how many people relay scoring statistics. For example, most basketball experts will say that a player like Steph Curry has a 42 percent success rate “when scoring from the field.”


What are the Different Types of Field Goals?

There are three main types of shots scored in basketball: field goals, three-point field goals, and free throws. These shots are considered field goals, but they are usually recorded differently depending on the specificity of statistics.


Regular Field Goals

regular field goals

Regular field goals are baskets made when a shooter is below the three-point arc. These are sometimes called two-point field goals because they are worth two points in the basketball game. Examples of a field goal include a slam dunk and a layup.


Free Throws

free throws

Free throws are a type of field goal explicitly scored from the free-throw line. These come as opportunities as a result of fouls or penalties during a game. Free throws are only worth one point but may be earned by a player in sets of one, two, or three opportunities, depending on the foul that caused them.


Three-Point Field Goals

three point field goals

Finally, 3-point field goals are baskets made when a player shoots the ball beyond the three-point line. This arc on the field was first tested in the NCAA in 1945 and later joined the NBA in 1979. Chris Ford of the Boston Celtics scored the first three-pointer in NBA history on October 12, 1979.


Each basketball league has a different distance for the 3-point line. In the NBA, the line is 23 feet, 9 inches from the basket. However, in the NCAA, WNBA, FIBA, and other legislative bodies, the line is 22 feet, 1.75 inches from the basket. In high school basketball, the three-point line is 19 feet, 9 inches from the basket.


What Different Shots Count as Field Goals?

what different shots count as field goals

Several different shots count as field goals during a basketball game. Generally, the most important thing to know is that all shots from below the three-point line or free throw line count as two-point field goals. Shots from beyond the three-point arc are three-point shots, and shots from the free-throw line are one point.


Some of the most popular two-point field goals are layups and slam dunks. However, any shot within the three-point line, such as a jump shot, hook shot, and bank shot (where the ball bounces off the backboard before entering the basket), all count for two points.


Three-point shots tend to be jump shots. This type of shot involves someone jumping before releasing the ball. Once they reach the apex of their shot, they’ll fully extend their arm and toss the ball towards the basket.


What is a Good Field Goal Percentage?

what is a good field goal percentage

Anything higher than a 50% field goal is considered good in the basketball. However, certain positions tend to have higher field goal completions vs. other positions on the court.


For example, the best field goal percentage shooters in NBA history are centers with over a 70% completion rate. Some players with the best field goal percentage include Wilt Chamberlain, Mitchell Robinson, and DeAndre Jordan.


How Do You Calculate Basketball Field Goals?

how do you calculate basketball field goals

The way that statisticians track field goals in basketball is through a field goal percentage formula. This formula is the number of baskets made, divided by the number of field goal attempts. This stat shows how accurate players are when they shoot from the field.


For example, let’s say that a player took 100 shots during the regular season. Out of those 100 shots, they made fifty-three of them. That means that that player’s field goal percentage was 53%.


What is the Field Goal Abbreviation?

what is the field goal abbreviation

What does FG mean in basketball? Simple, FG is an abbreviation for field goals, and the percentage means field goal percentage. Statisticians also record field goals attempted (FGA) and field goals made (FGM). There are two stats related to field goals you’ll also find on a basketball game box score.


These stats are for the two subtypes of field goals, three-pointers, and free throws. Like field goals, statisticians record the attempted and made baskets of both free throws and three-point shots. Those numbers are compared to each other to get the final percentage.


The abbreviation for the statistics for free throws is FTA, FTM, and FT%. Meanwhile, the abbreviations for three-point shots are 3PA, 3PM, and 3P%.


Who are the Best Scorers from the Field in the NBA?

Who are the Best Scorers from the Field in the NBA

These days, the best players in the NBA make most of the field goals they attempt. The single-season record holder for the stat is Mitchel Robinson, who earned a .742 field goal percentage during the 2019-2020 season with the New York Knicks. Wilt Chamberlain is in second place with a .727 field goal percentage.


Historically, field goal percentage has been a bit of a lagging stat. Famous basketball players in history did not have many successful field goal attempts. Bill Russell and George Mikan only averaged slightly more than .400 when shooting from the field.


Who Has the Most Field Goals in NBA History?

The player with the most field goals in the history of the NBA is Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, with 15,837. The next closest player is Karl Malone, who’s a distant second with 13,528 career field goals.


Conclusion: What is a Field Goal in Basketball?

In summary, a basketball field goal is any basket made during a game. Since field goals can have different point values associated with them, many people think they’re different scores (like in American Football, where a touchdown is different from an extra point.) However, this is not the case.


Three-point shots and free throws are simply different types of field goals. This common term for scoring makes it easy to talk about and record basketball statistics, helping new people learn the game more quickly.


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