A three-point field goal (also called a three-pointer) is a field goal
in a basketball game made from beyond the three-point line, a
designated arc surrounding the basket. A successful attempt is worth
three points, in contrast to the two points awarded for field goals
made within the three-point line and the one point for each made free
The distance from the basket to the three-point line varies by
competition level: in the National
Basketball Association (NBA) the
arc is 23 feet 9 inches (7.24 m) from the basket; in
FIBA and the
WNBA (the latter uses FIBA's three-point line standard)
the arc is 6.75 metres or 22 feet 1 3⁄4 inches from
the basket; and in the
National Collegiate Athletic Association
National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA)
the arc is 20 feet 9 inches (6.32 m) from the basket.
In the NBA and FIBA/WNBA, the three-point line becomes parallel to
each sideline at the points where the arc is 3 feet (0.91 m) from
each sideline; as a result the distance from the basket gradually
decreases to a minimum of 22 feet (6.71 m). In the NCAA the arc
is continuous for 180° around the basket. There are more variations
(see main article).
In 3x3, a FIBA-sanctioned variant of the half-court 3-on-3 game, the
"three-point" line exists, but shots from behind the line are only
worth 2 points. All other shots are worth 1 point.
2 Rule specifications
3 Related concepts
4 See also
6 External links
The three-point line was first tested at the collegiate level in a
1945 NCAA game between Columbia and Fordham but it was not kept as a
rule. At the direction of Abe Saperstein, the American Basketball
League became the first basketball league to institute the rule in
1961. Its three-point line was a radius of 25 feet (7.62 m) from
the baskets, except along the sides. The Eastern Professional
Basketball League followed in its 1963–64 season.
The three-point shot later became popularized by the American
Basketball Association after its introduction in the 1967–68 season.
George Mikan stated the three-pointer "would give the
smaller player a chance to score and open up the defense to make the
game more enjoyable for the fans." During the 1970s, the ABA used
the three-point shot, along with the slam dunk, as a marketing tool to
compete with the National
Basketball Association (NBA).
The official scorer's report showing the first made three-point field
goal in NBA history.
In the 1979–80 season, after having tested it in the previous
pre-season, the NBA adopted the three-point line despite the view of
many that it was a gimmick.
Chris Ford of the Boston Celtics is
widely credited with making the first three-point shot in NBA history
on October 12, 1979.
Kevin Grevey of the Washington Bullets also made
one on the same day.
The sport's international governing body, FIBA, introduced the
three-point line in 1984, at a distance of 6.25 m (20 ft
Southern Conference became the first collegiate conference
to use the three-point rule, adopting a 22-foot (6.71 m) line for
the 1980–81 season. Ronnie Carr of Western Carolina University
was the first to score a three-point field goal in college basketball
history on November 29, 1980. Over the following five years,
NCAA conferences differed in their use of the rule and distance
required for a three-pointer. The line was as close as 17 ft
9 in (5.41 m) in the Atlantic Coast Conference, and as far
away as 22 feet in the Big Sky Conference. Used in conference play,
it was adopted by the NCAA for the 1986–87 men's season at
19 ft 9 in (6.02 m), and was first used in the NCAA
Tournament in 1987. In the same 1986–87 season, the NCAA adopted
the three-pointer in women's basketball on an experimental basis,
using the same 19 ft 9 in distance, and made its use mandatory
beginning in 1987–88. In 2007, the NCAA lengthened the men's
three-point distance to 20 ft 9 in (6.32 m), with the
rule coming into effect at the beginning of the 2008–09 season.
The NCAA women's three-point distance was moved to match the men's
distance in 2011–12. American high schools, along with
elementary and middle schools, adopted a 19 ft 9 in
(6.02 m) line nationally in 1987, a year after the NCAA. The
NCAA used the
FIBA three-point line (see below) in the 2018 National
During the 1994–95, 1995–96, and 1996–97 seasons, the NBA
attempted to address decreased scoring by shortening the distance of
the line from 23 ft 9 in (7.24 m) (22 ft
(6.71 m) at the corners) to a uniform 22 ft (6.71 m)
around the basket. From the 1997–98 season on, the NBA reverted the
line to its original distance of 23 ft 9 in (22 ft at the corners,
with a 3 inch differential).
Ray Allen is currently the NBA all-time
leader in career made three-pointers with 2,973.
FIBA announced that the distance would be increased by
50 cm (19.69 in) to 6.75 m (22 ft
1 3⁄4 in), with the change being phased in beginning in
October 2010. In December 2012, the
WNBA announced that it would be
using FIBA's distance, too, as of the 2013 season. The NBA has
discussed adding a four-point line, according to president Rod
In the NBA, three-point field goals have become increasingly more
frequent along the years, with effectiveness increasing slightly. The
1979-80 season had an average 2.2 three-point goals per game and 6.6
attempts (28% effectiveness). The 1989-90 season had an average 4.8
three-point goals per game and 13.7 attempts (35% effectiveness). The
2009-10 season had an average 6.4 three-point goals per game and 18.1
attempts (36% effectiveness). The 2016-17 season had an average 9.7
three-point goals per game and 27.0 attempts (36% effectiveness).
A three-point line consists of an arc at a set radius measured from
the point on the floor directly below the center of the basket, and
two parallel lines equidistant from each sideline extending from the
nearest end line to the point at which they intersect the arc. In the
FIBA standard, the arc spans the width of the court until it
is a specified minimum distance from each sideline. The three-point
line then becomes parallel to the sidelines from those points to the
baseline. The unusual formation of the three-point line at these
levels allows players some space from which to attempt a three-point
shot at the corners of the court; the arc would be less than 2 feet
(0.61 m) from each sideline at the corners if it was a continuous
arc. In the NCAA and American high school standards, the arc spans
180° around the basket, then becomes parallel to the sidelines from
the plane of the basket center to the baseline (5 feet
3 inches or 1.60 metres). The distance of the three-point line to
the center of the hoop varies by level:
Minimum distance from sidelines
23 feet 9 inches (7.24 m)
3 feet (0.91 m)
FIBA (also used by WNBA)
6.75 meters (22 ft 2 in)
0.90 meters (2 ft 11 in)
National Collegiate Athletic Association
20 feet 9 inches (6.32 m)
4 feet 3 inches (1.30 m)
American high school basketball
19 feet 9 inches (6.02 m)
5 feet 3 inches (1.60 m)
A player's feet must be completely behind the three-point line at the
time of the shot or jump in order to make a three-point attempt; if
the player's feet are on or in front of the line, it is a two-point
attempt. A player is allowed to jump from outside the line and land
inside the line to make a three-point attempt, as long as the ball is
released in mid-air.
An official raises his/her arm with three fingers extended to signal
the shot attempt. If the attempt is successful, he/she raises his/her
other arm with all fingers fully extended in manner similar to a
football official signifying successful field goal to indicate the
three-point goal. The official must recognize it for it to count as
Instant replay has sometimes been used, depending on
league rules. The NBA, WNBA,
FIBA and the NCAA specifically allow
replay for this purpose. In NBA, FIBA, and
WNBA games, video replay
does not have to occur immediately following a shot; play can continue
and the officials can adjust the scoring later in the game, after
reviewing the video. However, in late game situations, play may be
paused pending a review.
If a shooter is fouled while attempting a three-pointer and
subsequently misses the shot, the shooter is awarded three free-throw
attempts. If a player completes a three-pointer while being fouled,
the player is awarded one free-throw for a possible 4-point play.
Conceivably, if a player completed a three-pointer while being fouled,
and that foul was ruled as either a Flagrant 1 or a Flagrant 2 foul,
the player would be awarded two free throws for a possible 5-point
Major League Lacrosse
Major League Lacrosse features a two-point line which forms a 15-yard
(14 m) arc around the front of the goal. Shots taken from behind
this line count for two points, as opposed to the standard one point.
In gridiron football, a standard field goal is worth three points;
various professional and semi-pro leagues have experimented with
four-point field goals.
NFL Europe and the Stars Football League
adopted a rule similar to basketball's three-point line in which an
additional point was awarded for longer field goals; in both leagues
any field goal of 50 yards (46 m) or more was worth four points.
Arena Football League
Arena Football League awards four points for any successful drop
kicked field goal (like the three-point shot, the drop kick is more
challenging than a standard place kick, as the bounce of the ball
makes a kick less predictable, and arena football also uses narrower
goal posts for all kicks than the outdoor game does).
During the existence of the
World Hockey Association
World Hockey Association in the 1970s,
there were proposals for two-point hockey goals for shots taken beyond
an established distance (one proposal was a 44-foot (13.4m) arc, which
would have intersected the faceoff circles), but this proposal gained
little support and faded after the WHA merged with the NHL. It was
widely believed that long-distance shots in hockey had little direct
relation to skill (usually resulting more from goalies' vision being
screened or obscured), plus with the lower scoring intrinsic to the
sport a two-point goal was seen as disruptive of the structure of the
Super Goal is a similar concept in Australian rules football, in
which a 50-meter (55 yd) arc determines the value of a goal;
within the arc, it is the usual 6 points, but 9 points are scored for
a "super goal" scored from outside the arc. To date the super goal is
only used in pre-season games and not in the season proper.
The National Professional Soccer League II, which awarded two points
for all goals except those on the power play, also used a three-point
line, drawn 45 feet (14 m) from the goal. It has since been
adopted by some other indoor soccer leagues.
50–40–90 club, exclusive group of players who have made at least
50% of two-pointers, 40% of three-pointers, and 90% of free throws in
List of National
Basketball Association career 3-point scoring leaders
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^ a b "NCAA Women's
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^ Lynch, John (27 March 1987). "High School
Basketball Draws Line,
Adopts 3-Point Rule". Los Angeles Times.
^ Bonagura, Kyle (February 27, 2018). "NIT to experiment with new
rules this season". ESPN.com. Retrieved February 28, 2018.
^ "NBA & ABA Career Leaders and Records for 3-Pt Field Goals
Basketball-Reference.com". Basketball-Reference.com. Retrieved
^ "NBA has discussed bigger court, 4-point shot". Espn.go.com.
2014-02-25. Retrieved 2017-03-05.
^ NBA League Averages -
^ "Rule No. 1---Court Dimensions--Equipment". NBA Official Rules.
Retrieved 19 October 2010.
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^ "2009 Court Diagram" (PDF). NCAA. Archived from the original (PDF)
on 28 June 2010. Retrieved 19 October 2010.
Basketball Court Diagram" (PDF). Nebraska School Activities
Association. Retrieved 10 December 2011.
^ "Description of the NBA's new instant replay rules". NBA.com.
October 23, 2008. Retrieved 16 November 2008.
^ Denham, Greg (February 14, 2012). "NAB Cup's ruck and holding rules
may run season". The Australian. Archived from the original on March
NBA.com's Top 10 three-pointers from past 25 years
Article on Columbia's experimentation with the three-point field goal
decades before its official introduction
"Long Live the Three" by Steve Shutt,
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