Basketball Thoughts by Daniel Kahneman

It is always great to get multiple perspectives on our profession, especially by those in academia.

Here are a few excerpts from noble prize winner, Daniel Kahneman’s, “Thinking, Fast and Slow”:

“Some years later, Amos and his students Tom Gilovich and Robert Vallone caused a stir with their study of misperceptions of randomness in basketball. The ‘fact’ that players occasionally acquire a hot hand is generally accepted by players, coaches and fans. The inference is irresistible: a player sinks three or four baskets in a row and you cannot help forming the causal judgment that this player is now hot, with a temporarily increased propensity to score. Players on both teams adapt to this judgment–teammates are more likely to pass to the hot scorer and the defense is more likely to double-team. Analysis of thousands of sequences of shots led to a disappointing conclusion: there is no such things as a hot hand in professional basketball, either in shooting from the field or scoring from the foul line. Of course, some players are more accurate than others, but the sequence of successes and missed shots satisfies all tests of randomness. The hot hand is entirely in the eye of the beholder, who are consistently too quick to perceive order and causality in randomness. The hot hand is a massive and widespread cognitive illusion.” (p. 116-117)

Coaches, players, sports fans — What are your thoughts on feed the hot hand after reading Kahneman’s rebuttal. Is it real? Can it win you a quarter, half or even game? Have you taken a point guard out of the lineup for not “feeding the hot hand?”. Maybe it is time to reconsider, if so.

————————————————————————————————————————————

Another interesting point Kahneman makes is:

“Emotional learning may be quick, but what we consider as ‘expertise’ usually takes a long time to develop. The acquisition of expertise in complex tasks such as high-level chess, professional basketball, or firefighting is intricate and slow because expertise in a domain is not a single skill but rather a large collection of miniskills. Chess is a good example. An expert player can understand a complex position at a glance, but it takes years to develop that level of ability. Studies of chess masters have shown that at least 10,000 hours of delicate practice (about 6 years of playing chess 5 hours a day) are required to attain the highest levels of performance.”

This sounds very similar to Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers – Chapter 2 – 10000 Hour Rule. It seems as though 10,000 is highly associated to greatness.

You have to put your time in if you want to excel and be exceptional at any complex skill.

———————————————————————————————————————————–

For more information on Kahneman, click this link to his publications and lectures.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s