Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Athletes' winning streaks may not be all in our -- or their -- heads

Date:
October 6, 2011
Source:
Yale University
Summary:
When an athlete consistently does well, sports commentators may describe them as being "hot" or "on fire." Scientists have debunked these streaks as being in the eye of the beholder, but a new study supports the "hot hand" phenomenon: that a streak of positive outcomes is likely to continue.

When an athlete consistently does well, sports commentators may describe them as being "hot" or "on fire." Scientists have debunked these streaks as being in the eye of the beholder, but a new study by Yale School of Medicine researchers supports the "hot hand" phenomenon: that a streak of positive outcomes is likely to continue.

Related Articles


Published online in the journal PLoS ONE, the study analyzed five years of NBA free throws that support the "hot hand" phenomenon. Gur Yaari, postdoctoral associate in the Department of Pathology at Yale School of Medicine, and colleague Shmuel Eisenmann, investigated the common belief among basketball players and fans that players' probabilities of hitting a shot are greater following a hit than following a miss on the previous shot. Past studies found that the data does not support this phenomenon and concluded that human subjects misperceive random sequences and tend to attribute non-random patterns to completely random data.

Yaari and Eisenmann used a large data set of more than 300,000 free throws to show strong support for the "hot hand" phenomenon at the individual level. They analyzed all free throws taken during five regular seasons NBA seasons from 2005 to 2010. They found that there was a significant increase in players' probabilities of hitting the second shot in a two-shot series compared to the first one. They also found that in a set of two consecutive shots, the probability of hitting the second shot is greater following a hit than following a miss on the previous one.

According to Yaari, the presence of the "hot hand" phenomenon in basketball data is due to better and worse periods of the players. These periods are possibly determined by other factors rather than a causal connection between the result of the previous shot and the result of the current one. Yaari said that since the number of free throws taken by one player in one game is low, in order to decide between these two options, further research from other setups is needed.

"Our results set the stage for further physiological and psychological investigations of the origin of this phenomenon," said Yaari. "While the example we studied came from the sporting world, the implications are much more far reaching."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Yale University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Gur Yaari, Shmuel Eisenmann. The Hot (Invisible?) Hand: Can Time Sequence Patterns of Success/Failure in Sports Be Modeled as Repeated Random Independent Trials? PLoS ONE, 2011; 6 (10): e24532 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0024532

Cite This Page:

Yale University. "Athletes' winning streaks may not be all in our -- or their -- heads." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 October 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111005180509.htm>.
Yale University. (2011, October 6). Athletes' winning streaks may not be all in our -- or their -- heads. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 31, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111005180509.htm
Yale University. "Athletes' winning streaks may not be all in our -- or their -- heads." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111005180509.htm (accessed January 31, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Science & Society News

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

China's "Great Firewall" Frustrates Internet Users

China's "Great Firewall" Frustrates Internet Users

Reuters - News Video Online (Jan. 31, 2015) The Chinese government moves to tighten regulations for virtual private network (VPN) services that are used to access websites and services normally blocked in China. That&apos;s affected many internet users in the country. Yiming Woo reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Excuses, Excuses: Weirdest Reasons People Give For Tardiness

Excuses, Excuses: Weirdest Reasons People Give For Tardiness

Newsy (Jan. 30, 2015) CareerBuilder surveyed around 5,000 workers and human resources managers nationwide to compile a list of strange excuses employees used when tardy. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
CDC: Get Vaccinated for Measles

CDC: Get Vaccinated for Measles

Reuters - US Online Video (Jan. 30, 2015) The CDC is urging people to get vaccinated for measles amid an outbreak that began at Disneyland and has now infected more than 90 people. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obama To Outline New Plan For Personalized Medicine

Obama To Outline New Plan For Personalized Medicine

Newsy (Jan. 30, 2015) President Obama is expected to speak with drugmakers Friday about his Precision Medicine Initiative first introduced last week. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Science & Society

Business & Industry

Education & Learning

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins