The Hot Hand: Reality or Illusion

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Many athletes like to believe that a "hot hand" exists in sports. A hot hand is a term used to describe an athlete who is on a role and cannot be stopped. The term hot hand is popularly referred to in basketball. Once a player has made a few shots, they are "hot" and they will keep on asking for the ball, thinking they are on a streak. Many basketball players believe that this is true. I play basketball to and I believe that the hot hand exists in some way, but after reading a report I have come to the conclusion that the "hot hand" is actually an illusion.
Player Shooting Percentage

Player Shooting % Total Shots 3 misses 2 misses 1miss 1hit 2hit 3hits
Lionel .46 371 .11 .25 .54 .46 .18 .07
Andrew .46 406 .08 .22 .53 .47 .19 .07
Caldwell .47 225 .09 .21 .52 .48 .16 .05
Clint .50 206 .06 .16 .49 .51 .22 .10
Julius .52 836 .11 .23 .49 .51 .25 .12
Bobby .52 310 .06 .17 .47 .53 .25 .11
Steve .54 386 .06 .17 .46 .54 .25 .09
Maurice .56 292 .04 .13 .43 .57 .26 .11
Daryl .62 358 .02 .09 .38 .62 .31 .15
Correlation with shooting percentage -.804 -.874 -.993 -.993 -.954 -.899

This table clearly shows us that there is no such thing as a "hot hand." This table shows us a correlation between shooting percentages and proportions of shots that were a part of that. The correlation at the bottom shows that misses are negatively correlated with the shooting percentage and hits are positively correlated. This illustrates that there is no "hot hand" because the successive shots are independent and previous shots have no affect on them, thus making the "hot hand" not exist.
The players who still believe that they are right after compelling studies are practicing belief perseverance. This is known as a tendency to stick to what you think is right even when evidence proves you wrong. Many key players in the NBA like to believe that they are on a hot streak and don't want to admit they are wrong. For instance, Kobe Bryant scored 81 points in a basketball game.
After watching this I wonder if there are several third variables that many account for some type of "hot hand". In this example, Kobe Bryant is playing the Toronto Raptors, throughout the game the Raptors could have eased up on him defensively, or they could have put newer players in the game longer. The point is that there are some many different types of arguments and so many types of variables that can account for a "hot hand." But due to the lack of research and evidence supporting a hot hand, we can all assume that the hot hand is an illusion and that there is no proof that it exists.

Sources used

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This page contains a single entry by dhanj004 published on October 1, 2011 5:02 PM.

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