The hot hand in basketball: An examination of the impact of the hot hand, expertise and mindfulness on expert basketball players’ and coaches’ decisions

John Ingels, John F. Kennedy University, USA

Theme: Elite performance

Poster Number: 19

Program ID: POS-1

Presentation: October 3, 2013 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm

Room: Napoleon


The hot hand phenomenon (Croson & Sundali, 2005; Gilovich, Vallone, & Tversky, 1985) and psychological momentum (Jackson & Mosurski, 1997) are two closely related concepts. They each refer to a belief that if a player or team has a series of successful actions they are more likely to be successful in the subsequent action (Croson & Sundali, 2005; Gilovich, et al., 1985; & Jackson & Mosurski, 1997). There is a strong body of statistical evidence from various domains including sport (e.g., Bar-Eli, Avugos, & Raab, 2006) which suggests that the hot hand is nothing more than a misconception of chance. This fact is not yet conclusive as recent studies have found statistical evidence for psychological momentum during and between golf rounds (Livingston, 2012; & Savage & Iso-Aloha, 2012). In addition, player and coach perspectives show that psychological momentum or the hot hand is believed to be extremely important to the success of a player and team (Demian, 2011; Jones & Harwood, 2008; Miller & Weinberg, 1991). The aim of the current study was to introduce a new methodology to gather statistical data from players and coaches about these concepts. Eighteen basketball players and five coaches watched one half of a taped college basketball game and predicted the outcome of select jump shots. While the players and coaches were no more accurate than a random model at predicting success, the pattern of predictions did potentially indicate a belief in the hot hand. Experience was observed to be positively correlated with participants’ success at prediction, suggesting that “expert” individuals may better identify a hot hand. These results support the notions that the hot hand is perceived and used by players and coaches when making decisions and that expertise is an important factor in making correct decisions.

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