Scoreboards – What Is a Field Goal In Basketball?


For new fans to the sport of basketball, or for any sport for that matter, the specific terminology of the sport can be a little overwhelming. There is confusing terminology for just about every skill in the game including dribbling, rebounding, defense, and of course shooting. The question of “What is a field goal in basketball?” has been asked by many novice fans watching basketball for the first time. Most people would assume a field goal is the same thing as a jump shot. But the answer is not as cut and dry as most people would think since there are several types of field goals in the sport of basketball.

Definition of a Field Goal

The definition of what is a field goal in basketball can be summarized in the following terms: a field goal is any shot, other than a free throw, that is attempted by a player. This means that a field goal can include layups, dunks, jump shots, hook shots, and three-point shots. Essentially, any shot taken during the course of the game is considered a field goal.

Importance of Field Goal Percentage

Field goal percentage is one of the most important individual statistics in organized basketball. It is a measure of a player’s shooting efficiency and can indicate their overall skill level as a scorer. Players with a high field goal percentage usually average double digits in points per game, showcasing their ability to convert their shot attempts into points.

Calculation of Field Goal Percentage

Field goal percentage is calculated by taking the number of field goals made by the number attempted, then multiplying by 100 to get a percentage. For example, if a player attempts 10 shots and makes 4 of them, their field goal percentage would be calculated as follows:

  • Field Goals Made: 4
  • Field Goals Attempted: 10
  • Field Goal Percentage: (4/10) * 100 = 40%

Classification of Basketball Field Goals

Basketball field goals can be classified by any shot taken from the court, whether it be a layup, a jump shot, a hook shot, or a three-point shot. When coaches and announcers talk about high percentage field goals, they are referring to layups and dunks, as these shots have the highest probability of going in. These high percentage shots are usually the result of good positioning, footwork, and finishing ability near the basket.

Relation Between Skills and Field Goal Percentage

The better a player’s skills, the higher their field goal percentage will be. Shooting skills, such as accuracy, range, and shot selection, play a significant role in determining a player’s shooting efficiency. A player with good shooting skills usually averages about 40% from the field. However, it is important to note that field goal percentage alone does not capture the full picture of a player’s offensive abilities, as factors such as shot difficulty and defensive pressure can also influence shooting percentages.

The Term “Field Goal”

The term “field” or “the basketball field” refers to the court, hence the name field goal. It encompasses the entire playing surface where the game takes place. The term field goal is used to distinguish shots taken during active gameplay from free throws, which are uncontested shots awarded for certain fouls. While the term “court goal” could be a more accurate description, the term field goal has become widely accepted and ingrained in basketball terminology.

Understanding Terminology and Rules as a New Fan

Any new fan of basketball might be a little overwhelmed with the terminology and rules of the game. There are so many phrases to describe dribbling, rebounding, defense, and shooting that it can often seem like the announcers, players, and coaches are speaking a different language. However, with time and exposure, these terms can become familiar, and new fans can start to understand and appreciate the intricacies of the game.

As a new fan, it is beneficial to actively engage in watching games, listening to commentary, and reading about basketball to familiarize oneself with the terminology. Over time, the phrases and terms will become second nature, and new fans will feel more confident in discussing the game with others.

One aspect of the game that new fans may find particularly helpful in understanding basketball terminology is following along with a basketball scoreboard. Scoreboards provide real-time information on the game’s progress, including the score, time remaining, player statistics, and more. Electro-Mech, a company specializing in electronic basketball scoreboards, not only manufactures these scoreboards but also provides valuable information on the rules and customs of the game.


While the terminology and rules of basketball may initially seem overwhelming to new fans, with time and exposure, they can become second nature. Understanding the definition of a field goal, its importance in evaluating player performance, and the various types of field goals can enhance the enjoyment and appreciation of the game. Electro-Mech, with its expertise in producing scoreboards and sharing basketball knowledge, can further assist new fans in becoming well-versed in the sport.