Improving Basketball Shooting Accuracy
Summary. In this study, basketball players at the University of Calgary were trained to use the “quiet eye” technique for shooting free throws, which emphasizes looking steadily at the target before attempting the shot. In a controlled environment the researchers measured free throw accuracy before and after the season in which the players practiced the quite eye technique. In addition to the pre-post data, the researchers compared the free throw accuracy during actual games for the Calgary team to two similar college teams. The Calgary team made 54.1% of its free throws during the first season with quiet eye training, but improved to 76.6% the next season (the NBA average is around 75%). The performance of one of the comparison schools (who did not use quiet eye training) changed very little (67.6% to 66.2%). The performance of the second comparison school improved from 61.4% to 74.0%.
Video. Scientific American Frontiers: On the Ball (2002), Quiet Eye segment, which is at the beginning of the program. The segment can be viewed online (as of July 2018) -- Season 12, Episode 6. You can show the first part of the segment to give students some background information. Stop the video about 6:30 into the segment, after Alan Alda says “This was before they studied the quiet eye technique.” Joan Vickers then spends about the next 30 seconds describing the results of the study.
Original Research. Harle, S., & Vickers, J. (2001). Training quiet eye improves accuracy in the basketball free throw. The Sport Psychologist, 15, 289-305.
Design. One-group, pretest-posttest.
Statistical Analysis. The main analysis is a comparison of pretest and posttest scores from the experimental portion of the study. The data in Table 1 yield a pretest mean of 62.1% (SD = 16.71%) and a posttest mean of 74.2% (SD = 12.82%).
Published Results. “A significant difference was found for Test, F(1, 21) = 10.67, p < .01, ES = .80, a large effect. Pretest accuracy was 62.31% (SD = 16.65%) and posttest was 74.31% (SD = 12.86%)” (p. 296).
Published conclusions. “The results highlight the importance of training a sustained duration of QE on a single location on the hoop prior to the execution of the shooting action.” (p. 289).
Table 1. Realistic data for the number of made free throws out of 30, before and after quiet eye training.
The Excel file for this activity contains the same data shown here in Table 1.