Applied Sport and Performance Psychology

Document Type



Journal of Sport Behavior

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The hot hand and psychological momentum (PM) are two closely related concepts that propose that previous success increases the chances of future success (Jackson & Mosurski, 1997). Statistical evidence for the existence of the hot hand or PM is mixed (Bar-Eli, Avugos, & Raab, 2006; Bocskocsky, Ezekowitz, & Stein, 2014; Sun, 2004). However players’, coaches ’, and fans ’perspectives show that PM or the hot hand is believed to be an extremely important aspect within sport (Gilovich, Tversky, & Vallone, 1985; Jones & Harwood, 2008). A key component of this phenomenon is the ability to predict future performance based on the appearance of momentum and this ability relies on human decision-making. The current study examined how the hot hand impacts human decision making by having collegiate level basketball players (N = 18) and coaches (N = 5) predict shot outcome while watching a taped college game. While the players and coaches were no more accurate than a random model at predicting shot outcome, they did outperform the random model when predicting shots taken by a hot shooter. The implications of basketball player and coaches relying on the hot hand when making decisions are discussed. Additionally, a positive correlation was seen between basketball expertise (number of years as player/coach) and prediction accuracy. This result and implications for future research to better understand how the hot hand is used to make decisions are discussed.