If you're an aspiring NBA champ, or maybe just looking for a way to chill on the weekends, it's important to learn how to score points and account for foul plays. In this blog, we'll discuss how to understand the point system in basketball. Read on to find out!

Scoring in Basketball

No matter what, all points must be made by shooting the ball into the basket. But there are several types of shots you can make, as well as the number of points you get for each one.

Two-Point Shot

basketball court


This outermost arc marks the three-point line. Two-point shots, or two-pointers, are made from anywhere inside this line, including if your feet are touching it. Types of two-pointers include:

  • Jump Shot: A shot you make while jumping.
  • Layup: A one-handed shot made near the basket; usually involves the basketball bouncing off the backboard.
  • Slam Dunk: Where you slam the ball directly into the basket; can be made with one or both hands.

Three-Point Shot

The NBA introduced three-point shots, or three-pointers, in 1979 to reward farther shots. Though many players and coaches were against it at first, it's grown to be almost as popular as two-point shots.

A three-point shot is scored from any point beyond the three-point line. The NBA distance from this line to the basket is 23 feet, 9 inches.

One-Point Shot

One-point shots are made by standing on the free-throw line which cuts the above circle in half. You can only get a free throw as a result of a foul.

Fouling in Basketball

There are several types of fouls in basketball. Be sure to take note of them now so you don't accidentally give the other team a free throw. Fouls can also result in the referee giving the ball to the other team, and if it's especially bad, the player can be removed from the game.

Personal Fouls

Most of these include making physical contact with another player, such as:

  • Hitting, kicking, shoving, elbowing, etc.
  • Sticking out a limb to block a player and touching them
  • Touching with no intent to steal the ball (intentional foul)

Unsportsmanlike behavior such as arguing, swearing, or making obscene gestures can also count as a technical foul.


These are errors in gameplay, including:

  • Traveling: Taking more than a step and a half while carrying the ball
  • Palming: Dribbling the ball with your hand too far over to the side or under the ball
  • Double Dribbling: Dribbling with both hands or picking up the dribble and dribbling again

All in all, you don't want to play so cautiously that you're not unleashing your full potential, but you don't want to foul too much and get pulled from the game. Expect to make a couple of fouls per game—it's normal! We hope this blog was helpful in understanding the point system in basketball, and if you want to learn more about the positions in basketball, check out our blog on the 5 main basketball positions.