In the past, disbelieving scientists claimed when an athlete gets on a "hot streak" during a sporting event, it's completely random.
Maybe they were wrong.
Exciting new research involving pro basketball players supports the so called "hot hand" phenomenon: that a streak of positive outcomes will likely continue.
It turns out broadcasters sounding off about a player being "in the zone," wasn't just a figment of their imagination.
Five years of NBA free throws -- more than 300,000 foul shots -- were researched to support the "hot hand" theory. The study was done by Yale School of Medicine and published online this week in the journal PLoS One.
The researchers looked at every free throw attempted during the 2005 to 2010 NBA regular seasons and found there was a big increase in the likelihood of players making the second shot in a two-shot situation, compared to the first one. Yale scientists also discovered that players made the second shot more often after hitting the first as apposed to a miss.
Shaquille O'Neal, a legendarily bad foul shooter at .527 must have skewed the statistics down somewhat.
Miami Heat fans won't necessarily agree with this, but scientists also found players don't "choke" under the pressure of the fourth quarter. Free throw shooting percentages were consistent across all four quarters.
Gur Yaari, postdoctoral associate in the Department of Pathology at Yale School of Medicine, believes his research will have implications far beyond the court.