“Choking and Excelling at the Free Throw Line”

That is the title of this excellent empirical study by Darrell Worthy, Arthur Markman, and Todd Maddox. In case you’re wondering, their data set was comprehensive: it consisted of all free throws attempted during the last minute of all regular-season and playoff games in the three seasons of 2002-03, 2003-04, and 2004-05. The authors conclude that players tend to shoot worse than their career average when their team was behind or ahead by one point. (By the way, their elegant paper is only six pages long–five, if you exclude their bibliography! But if you’re pressed for time, fellow blogger Phil Birnbaum wrote up this helpful overview of the paper as well.) On a more personal note, although the paper was published way back in 2009, we stumbled upon it for the first time late last night while we were playing on the Internet during a bad bout of insomnia. Sometimes it pays to stay up late!)

This entry was posted in Bayesian Reasoning, Probability, Sports. Bookmark the permalink.

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