“Don't think, just shoot”–The paradox of shooting three-point shots in basketball

Ronnie Lidor, Lior Lipshits, Michal Arnon, Michael Bar-Eli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


A two-phase study was conducted on shooting three-point shots in basketball in pressure/no-pressure game situations. In Phase 1–a subjective approach, our aim was to discover what the players and coaches thought about shooting beyond the three-point arc when the shooters were performing under defensive pressure or when they were free of such pressure. In Phase 2–an analysis of shooting success, we examined the actual success (i.e., percentage of successful shots) of shooting three-point shots under these two situations. In Phase 1, 97 Division 1 male basketball players and 12 elite coaches were asked how they perceived shooting three-point shots in various game situations. In Phase 2, the success of 382 three-point shots taken in actual Division 1 games was analyzed. The shots were classified by four expert coaches into two categories–shots taken in free-of-defense and shots taken in under-pressure game situations. The success of the two classified shots was analyzed under 10 conditions. Expected results were found in Phase 1–both players and coaches believed that the success of three-point shots is higher when the shots are taken when the shooter is free of defense. In Phase 2, a surprising finding was revealed: shooting success was higher when the players shot under defensive pressure. We discuss the data in line with Kahneman’s (2011), Thinking, fast and slow, model, and propose a number of practical implications for coaches who are preparing their three-point shooters to deal with real game situations.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology
StateAccepted/In press - 1 Jan 2021


  • Shooting success
  • System 1
  • System 2
  • basketball
  • choking under pressure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Applied Psychology


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