What is Effective Field Goal Percentage?
And Why YOU Should Use It

Home > Coaching > Stats > What is Effective Field Goal Percentage?

Effective Field Goal Percentage is a measurement of how successful your team is from the field. This metric provides a more complete picture of the game situation than standard field goal percentages because three point shots are given extra weight.

How Do We Calculate It?

Effective Field Goal Percentage, or eFG%, is calculated the following way:

(2pt FGM + 1.5*3pt FGM) / FGA

This means a made three-pointer is worth one and a half times as much as a made two-pointer. A player who shoots 4 for 10 on all two-point baskets has a standard FG% of 40% and an eFG% of 40%. But, if all those makes were three-pointers, that player’s eFG% is 60%, reflecting the extra value of a made three.

In a real game of basketball, what matters is points scored per possession. A player whose eFG% is 60% is scoring at a rate equal to shooting 60% on two-point field goal attempts, a very respectable number.

Why Do We Highly Recommend this Metric?

The Effective Field Goal Percentage can tell you at a glance which team is having more success from the field. The team with the higher percentage is scoring more effectively from the field.

eFG% is what I would call a “high level key indicator”. Other high level indicators include:

  • Field Goal Attempts
  • Free Throw Attempts
  • Free Throw Percentage

If you beat your opponent in all 4 high level key indicators, you will always win. From a winning standpoint, are there any metrics that are more important?

You could argue that eFG% is the most important stat because in a typical game the majority of points are scored from the field. If you have a high eFG% and your opponent has a low eFG%, then both your offense and defense is probably doing quite well. And you have a really good chance to win.

Of course rebounds, free throw attempts, and field goal attempts are all important and affect the outcome of the game. But if I could only choose one stat to be really high, I would choose eFG%.

The Sabermetrics of Basketball

In the book, Basketball on Paper (which is basketball's version of Moneyball and an excellent book), Dean Oliver identified what he called the "Four Factors of Basketball Success":

  1. Shooting (40%)
  2. Turnovers (25%)
  3. Rebounding (20%)
  4. Free Throws (15%)

The number in parentheses is the approximate weight Mr. Oliver assigned each factor. Shooting is the most important factor, followed by turnovers, rebounding, and free throws.

The Four Factors were based on Oliver's extension research of the stats behind winning teams. He claims that shooting is the most important factor. I agree.

How to Use eFG% as a Coaching Tool

One of the simplest ways to effectively utilize eFG% is to look at the differential compared to your opponent. You can look at the differential for a single game, multiple games, or an entire season.

To show you what I mean, here’s a screenshot from our basketball stats app:basketball stats

You’ll notice a differential of +20%. In this case, my team is Iowa and we want positive differentials. A positive number tells me that my team is winning in the statistic. And in this case we’re winning by a significant margin!

This allows you to quickly glance at the differential and you’ll know precisely how your team is performing in that area.

If you are getting beaten badly, then you need to figure out why your eFG% is lower. Then figure how to remedy the problem by making adjustments to your defense and/or offense.

By looking at the eFG% differential, you immediately get a completely objective indication of how you are performing. There is no guesswork. And you can make informed and strategic decisions as a coach.

How Does Your eFG% Stack up to NBA, College, and High School Teams? What Should You Expect?

Just to give you a reference point, here are eFG% stats from various levels...

NBA Stats

In 2013, the average eFG% for the NBA was 49.66%. The Miami Heat has the highest eFG% at 55.24%. Guess who had the second highest eFG%?

The San Antonio Spurs had the second highest at 53.06%. These were the two best teams in the NBA and met in the finals!

Is it a coincidence that the teams with the two highest eFG% also had the best records and made it to the finals?

Seems to me like yet another bit of evidence that eFG% is an incredibly important stat.

Note: I tried to find stats for WNBA but couldn’t find it.

College Stats

In 2012/13 season, Creighton had the highest regular season eFG% at 58.2%. Howard had the lowest at 39.2%

I did a quick search for women's numbers but couldn’t find them.

High School and Youth Stats

Last year I coached a 9th grade boy's team that had a 49.5 eFG% for the season. We were undefeated for the season.

The previous year our 9th grade team had a 41.5 eFG% for the season. We won around half of our games.

Hopefully this gives you a little idea of what you can expect regarding numbers.

eFG% has become an important stat for me as a coach. I hope this article gives you some ideas and might allow you to utilize this simple metric to help you as a coach to win more games.

What Other Stats Do We Recommend?

As you can tell, we believe eFG% is one of the most important stats you should use as a coach. But that’s only one stat.

Here you can read about the other stats we recommend and how they can help you as a coach.

Please leave your comments, suggestions, and questions below...


Most Likes First   Oldest First   Newest First

Craig says:
12/24/2021 at 4:00:55 PM

Looking at the effective field goal percentage alone could be misleading. Maybe that number is up because the team is excellent at passing or in their transition defense. Correlation does not mean causation.


Craig says:
12/24/2021 at 4:00:43 PM

Looking at the effective field goal percentage alone could be misleading. Maybe that number is up because the team is excellent at passing or in their transition defense. Correlation does not mean causation.


Craig says:
12/24/2021 at 4:00:30 PM

Looking at the effective field goal percentage alone could be misleading. Maybe that number is up because the team is excellent at passing or in their transition defense. Correlation does not mean causation.


Another Robert says:
11/20/2021 at 7:38:39 AM

Free throws are more complicated than you are accounting for.

1. A free throw attempt, assessed after a shooting foul should not be in the denominator.
2. A free throw attempt or made (a point) should not be included for Technicals (at least in my opinion).
3. A set of free throws, in the penalty, for non-shooting fouls is "just different" from eFG%.


Mackintosh.Ella says:
8/4/2020 at 9:59:28 AM

If we do or don't do it, someone will laugh


Robert says:
2/28/2017 at 1:05:32 PM

Why not include free throws in the metric? No reason to look at it separately. They all contribute to the final score.

Add attempts (2PT + 1.5x3PT + FT/2) = Shots Attempted (SA)
Add Makes (2PT = 1.5x3PT + FT/2) = Shots Made (SM)

Divide SM by SA = Shooting Effectiveness (SE).

  1 reply  

Matt says:
6/4/2020 at 9:30:52 PM

I like this method and would give and would use (2PT + 1.5*3PT + FT/2)/(FG + FT). My denominator is FG + FT because in the eFG%, we use total shots without weights. However, the correlation between original eFG% and PPG and eFG% and wins is greater for the original eFG% method than your new method. I used 3 seasons of NBA data so it's credible. Not sure why.


fr an k pulsfort says:
2/11/2017 at 5:15:25 PM

What are total shots taken on average in high school or for your 9th grade team?


Gordon Kaplan says:
8/30/2016 at 9:20:07 PM

Unfortunately Oliver doesn't comprehend defense.


Jeff Haefner says:
7/18/2014 at 7:20:55 AM


Good questions. Below are just ideas. I'm sure other coaches have better ideas.

But we as coaches keep this stat in the back of our minds when it comes to choosing strategy, drills, etc. If a drill doesn't help improve our EFG or lower our opponents, we need to evaluate the drill and determine if it's worth keeping.

At the beginning of the year, we have our team meeting and establish what we'll focus on.


Through some questioning players came up with two things we needed to win games:

A) Take more shots than the opponent.
B) Shoot a higher percentage than the opponent.

Once we established that, we went through an exercise figuring out how to do those two things.

Lots of great ideas came out of the discussion. I wrote down the ideas on the white board as the players came up with the ideas.

Eventually, the players agreed on the following 4 things as being the most important…

1) Defense
2) Rebounding
3) Ball security (minimize turnovers)
4) Offensive scoring skills and fundamentals (shooting, finishing, post moves, screening, etc)

All 4 things have a strong impact on EFG... defense keeps opponents EFG low. Rebounding improves our EFG by giving us easy put-backs and limits the opponents put-backs. Ball handling/security minimizes their easy break away lay ups and is a skill that improves our offense. And of course having a team with good scoring skills will improve your EFG.

After scrimmages and games we look at our EFG as coaches and a team. Then determine if/what adjustments to make in order to keep improving it.

Look at the difference row at the bottom of this article. This is a key report we show our coaches and players.

And last of all. Simply sharing the statistic with your players and coaches will help (Pearson's Law). The law states...

"When performance is measured, performance improves. When performance is measured and reported back, the rate of improvement accelerates. "


  1 reply  

Eric Prag says:
4/13/2018 at 12:44:13 PM

Jeff and Brian,
I don't purport to be an expert on this subject, but I am certainly a junkie and have been a convert to the eFG metric determining my stats tracking and decision making in coaching for years. I actually incorporate this into my decision-making as a captain in a weekend league of adults that keeps stats.

One thing I thought went overlooked in your reply to Brian was...(and I realize this conversation is years old) ... is that you make decisions openly with your teammates and players about WHO SHOULD SHOOT. Encourage players with higher eFGs to shoot more, and tell those with lower eFGs to stop shooting.

In the article, you mention eFG as a defining team stat. Yes, that works, but you should break it down to the individuals on your team. When you implement the above, you will see a collective rise in team eFG.

Let's take a current NBA example for instance, the Wizards, John Wall, Otto Porter, and Bradley Beal.
Over the last few years, Otto Porter and Brad Beal have Consistently had very high, above average eFG%'s. John Wall, commonly thought of as a great player, has had below average eFG%'s largely due to his below average 3pt% shooting.

When Beal and Porter take more shots than Wall, they have a higher winning % and a higher eFG%.

Examples abound on every team, but another example are the last couple years of Steph Curry data. He almost always has greater than 60% efg. So does Klay Thompson. The Warriors kill teams.

If you look at Steph's Avg. 3pt attempts per game over the years... They consistently climb, and climb, and climb each year as their coaches adjusted to the eFG% mathematical reality that is, this stuff wins games. He now shoots more than 10 per game.

Over the long run, the Warriors would score more points if Steph took a contested half court shot, than have Igoudala take a wide open shot from the free throw line.
That's probably not true, but the point remains...

If you want to coach a team to play to eFG, you must tell those on your team with high eFG to shoot the ball more and to tell the others on your team, to stop shooting and pass the ball more. In the end, math always prevails.


Brian Sass says:
7/17/2014 at 9:16:00 PM

OK. I like it. It seems that there is a correlative relationship between effective field goal percentage and winning.

Now on to the next question: how do we as coaches use this information in practice, game-planning, and game strategy?

How will this change our game and player evaluations of individual and overall team performance?

I like the stat. How should we as coaches use it?


Leave a Comment
Email (not published)
Eight minus five is equal to?  (Prevents Spam)
 Load New Question
Leave this Blank