Finally, a scientist to codify something I’ve always thought: Random noise behind the backboard during a foul shot is easily ignored, just due to its randomness.
Here, a scientist puts a theory to the test in the NBA:
Last week, I wrote to the NBA owner I deemed most likely to consider applying the scientific method to free-throw shooting, Mark Cuban of the Dallas Mavericks. I told Cuban that the assumption that waving balloons wildly will produce the biggest distraction is just plain wrong. Given how the brain perceives motion, randomly moving balloons aren’t very off-putting. When you see a lot of little objects moving crazily back and forth, all the different motion signals that get sent to the brain cancel each other out. In the mind of a free-throw shooter, a crowd of people waving wiggle sticks looks like a snowy TV screen. This sort of white noise might make it harder to see the rim, but the stats show that isn’t a big deal for the pros.
He got the Mavs to test an idea to keep all motion moving in the same direction. Read the articles for the results.