Shaq is Not Alone: Free-Throws in the Final Moments of a Basketball Game

Miguel Ángel Gómez, Simcha Avugos, Miguel Ángel Oñoro, Alberto Lorenzo, Michael Bar-Eli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


It has been previously observed that basketball free-throw (FT) shooting efficiency decreases towards the end of the game. The aim of the current study was to explore possible determinants for this distinctive pattern during close games (point differential of equal or under 2 points during the final minute of the game). A sample of shots attempted by 92 players in the Spanish professional basketball league (ACB) was collected. Several personal (age, experience, playing position and career FT percentage) and contextual (team ability, competition stage, game location, seconds remaining and score differential) variables were considered for the analysis of the data. The effects of the predictor variables on the players' performance were analyzed according to two game contexts (FT attempted during the final minute or the last pair of FTs) using binomial logistic regression analysis. The results showed that during the final minute the only statistically significant variable was being in the center playing position (OR = 1.58), which decreased the FT shooting percentage compared to forwards and guards. In addition, the results during the last pair of FTs showed that the playing position of guards (OR = 1.70) and centers (OR = 2.22) was significant (a decrease in their FT percentage). Conversely, the score differential when tied (OR = -1.17) or losing (OR = -2.43) was significant, reflecting a lower probability of missing the shot. The results were interpreted and discussed from the viewpoints of crisis theory and the literature on choking in athletic performance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)135-144
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Human Kinetics
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2018


  • choking
  • performance analysis
  • pressure conditions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Physiology (medical)


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