Performance Under Pressure in the NBA

Journal of Sports Economics, June 2011

22 Pages Posted: 15 Jun 2010 Last revised: 5 Jun 2011

See all articles by Zheng Cao

Zheng Cao

Oregon State University

Joseph Price

Brigham Young University

Daniel F. Stone

Bowdoin College - Department of Economics

Date Written: June 14, 2010

Abstract

We analyze the effects of pressure on performance using National Basketball Association (NBA) free throw data from the 2002-03 through 2009-10 seasons. We find strong evidence that players choke under pressure – they shoot 5-10% worse than normal in the final seconds of very close games. Choking is more likely for players who are worse overall free throw shooters, and on the second shot of a pair after the first shot is missed. In general, performance declines as pressure increases (as game time remaining decreases, and as the score margin decreases, whether the shooter’s team is winning or losing). However, we find no evidence of choking when games are tied in the final 15 seconds. We also fail to find evidence of performance under pressure being affected by home status, attendance, and whether or not the game is in the playoffs.

Keywords: Choking, Anxiety, Pressure, Clutch, NBA

JEL Classification: L83, D03, M54, J24

Suggested Citation

Cao, Zheng and Price, Joseph and Stone, Daniel F., Performance Under Pressure in the NBA (June 14, 2010). Journal of Sports Economics, June 2011, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1624975

Zheng Cao

Oregon State University ( email )

Bexell Hall 200
Corvallis, OR 97331
United States

Joseph Price

Brigham Young University ( email )

130 FOB
Provo, UT 84604
United States

HOME PAGE: http://https://economics.byu.edu/directory/joseph-p-price

Daniel F. Stone (Contact Author)

Bowdoin College - Department of Economics ( email )

Brunswick, ME 04011
United States
6463387833 (Phone)

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