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114 Basketball Essay Topic Ideas & Examples

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Title: 114 Basketball Essay Topic Ideas & Examples


Basketball is a popular and dynamic sport that has captivated the hearts of millions worldwide. Whether you are an avid player, a die-hard fan, or simply interested in sports, writing an essay about basketball can offer a unique and engaging experience. To help you get started, we have compiled a list of 114 basketball essay topic ideas and examples. From historical milestones to the impact of basketball on society, these topics cover a wide range of aspects related to the sport. Let's explore some of the exciting possibilities!

  • The Evolution of Basketball: From its inception to modern-day techniques and strategies.
  • The Impact of Basketball on American Culture: How basketball has influenced music, fashion, and entertainment.
  • The Role of Women in Basketball: Examining the growth and contributions of female athletes in the sport.
  • The Psychological Benefits of Basketball: Exploring the positive effects of playing basketball on mental health.
  • The Business of Basketball: Analyzing the economic aspects of the sport, including sponsorships and endorsements.
  • The Importance of Teamwork in Basketball: Discussing how collaboration and cooperation contribute to success on the court.
  • The Role of Coaches in Basketball: Investigating the influence of coaches on player development and team performance.
  • The Impact of Basketball on Youth Development: Examining how basketball can shape character, discipline, and leadership skills.
  • The Rivalry Between NBA Teams: Analyzing legendary rivalries and their impact on the sport.
  • The Psychology of Winning and Losing in Basketball: Exploring the mindset of athletes during victories and defeats.
  • The Influence of Basketball in Education: Assessing the benefits of integrating basketball into school curricula.
  • The Globalization of Basketball: Investigating how the sport has spread and gained popularity worldwide.
  • The Role of Basketball in Social Justice Movements: Examining the efforts of basketball players to advocate for equality and social change.
  • The Impact of Basketball Analytics: Analyzing the use of data and statistics in basketball strategy and player evaluation.
  • The Role of Basketball in Community Development: Discussing how basketball programs can foster a sense of belonging and unity in local communities.

To provide a glimpse into the potential depth and breadth of basketball essay topics, here are a few examples:

  • The Legendary Rivalry: Comparing and contrasting the rivalry between Magic Johnson and Larry Bird.
  • The Rise of Women's Basketball: Investigating the evolution of the WNBA and its impact on gender equality in sports.
  • The Influence of Michael Jordan: Analyzing the cultural impact and legacy of one of the greatest basketball players of all time.
  • From Slum to Stardom: Exploring the inspiring journey of basketball players who overcame adversity to achieve success.
  • The Global Phenomenon: Examining the impact of Yao Ming on the popularity of basketball in China.
  • The Power of Basketball Films: Analyzing how movies like "Hoosiers" and "Space Jam" have contributed to the sport's cultural significance.
  • The NBA and Social Activism: Discussing the efforts of players like LeBron James and Colin Kaepernick in advocating for social justice.


Basketball offers a vast array of essay topics that can captivate and inspire both sports enthusiasts and academic minds alike. Whether you choose to delve into historical moments, cultural impacts, or the psychology behind the sport, exploring the various aspects of basketball can lead to thought-provoking and engaging essays. The 114 topic ideas and examples provided here are just the tip of the iceberg, so feel free to dive deeper and discover your own unique basketball essay topics.

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Improving practice and performance in basketball.

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Conflicts of Interest

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Search Term (Sport)Number of ReturnsNumber of Countries Played in *
Baseball OR Softball1250141
“American football” OR NFL1150104
“Rugby union” OR “Rugby sevens” OR “Rugby league”808119

Share and Cite

Scanlan, A.T.; Dalbo, V.J. Improving Practice and Performance in Basketball. Sports 2019 , 7 , 197. https://doi.org/10.3390/sports7090197

Scanlan AT, Dalbo VJ. Improving Practice and Performance in Basketball. Sports . 2019; 7(9):197. https://doi.org/10.3390/sports7090197

Scanlan, Aaron T., and Vincent J. Dalbo. 2019. "Improving Practice and Performance in Basketball" Sports 7, no. 9: 197. https://doi.org/10.3390/sports7090197

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2019 Theses Doctoral

Essays in Basketball Analytics

Keshri, Suraj Kumar

With the increasing popularity and competition in professional basketball in the past decade, data driven decision has emerged as a big competitive edge. The advent of high frequency player tracking data from SportVU has enabled a rigorous analysis of player abilities and interactions that was not possible before. The tracking data records two-dimensional x-y coordinates of 10 players on the court as well as the x-y-z coordinates of the ball at a resolution of 25 frames per second, yielding over 1 billion space-time observations over the course of a full season. This dissertation offers a collection of spatio-temporal models and player evaluation metrics that provide insight into the player interactions and their performance, hence allowing the teams to make better decisions. Conventional approaches to simulate matches have ignored that in basketball the dynamics of ball movement is very sensitive to the lineups on the court and unique identities of players on both offense and defense sides. In chapter 2, we propose the simulation infrastructure that can bridge the gap between player identity and team level network. We model the progression of a basketball match using a probabilistic graphical model. We model every touch event in a game as a sequence of transitions between discrete states. We treat the progression of a match as a graph, where each node represents the network structure of players on the court, their actions, events, etc., and edges denote possible moves in the game flow. Our results show that either changes in the team lineup or changes in the opponent team lineup significantly affects the dynamics of a match progression. Evaluation on the match data for the 2013-16 NBA season suggests that the graphical model approach is appropriate for modeling a basketball match. NBA teams value players who can ``stretch'' the floor, i.e. create space on the court by drawing their defender(s) closer to themselves. Clearly, this ability to attract defenders varies across players, and furthermore, this effect may also vary by the court location of the offensive player, and whether or not the player is the ball handler. For instance, a ball-handler near the basket attracts a defender more when compared to a non ball-handler at the 3 point line. This has a significant effect on the defensive assignment. This is particularly important because defensive assignment has become the cornerstone of all tracking data based player evaluation models. In chapter 3, we propose a new model to learn player and court location specific offensive attraction. We show that offensive players indeed have varying ability to attract the defender in different parts of the court. Using this metric, teams can evaluate players to construct a roster or lineup which maximizes spacing. We also improve upon the existing defensive matchup inference algorithm for SportVU data. While the ultimate goal of the offense is to shoot the ball, the strategy lies in creating good shot opportunities. Offensive play event detection has been a topic of research interest. Current research in this area have used a supervised learning approach to detect and classify such events. We took an unsupervised learning approach to detect these events. This has two inherent benefits: first, there is no need for pretagged data to learn identifying these events which is a lobor intensive and error prone task; second, an unsupervised approach allows us to detect events that has not been tagged yet i.e. novel events. We use a HMM based approach to detect these events at any point in the time during a possession by specifying the functional form of the prior distribution on the player movement data. We test our framework on detecting ball screen, post up, and drive. However, it can be easily extended to events like isolation or a new event that has certain distinct defensive matchup or player movement feature compared to a non event. This is the topic for chapter 4. Accurate estimation of the offensive and the defensive abilities of players in the NBA plays a crucial role in player selection and ranking. A typical approach to estimate players' defensive and offensive abilities is to learn the defensive assignment for each shot and then use a random effects model to estimate the offensive and defensive abilities for each player. The scalar estimate from the random effects model can then be used to rank player. In this approach, a shot has a binary outcome, either it is made or it is a miss. This approach is not able to take advantage of the “quality” of the shot trajectory. In chapter 5, we propose a new method for ranking players that infers the quality of a shot trajectory using a deep recurrent neural network, and then uses this quality measure in a random effects model to rank players taking defensive matchup into account. We show that the quality information significantly improves the player ranking. We also show that including the quality of shots increases the separation between the learned random effect coefficients, and thus, allows for a better differentiation of player abilities. Further, we show that we are able to infer changes in the player's ability on a game-by-game basis when using a trajectory based model. A shot based model does not have enough information to detect changes in player's ability on a game-by-game basis. A good defensive player prevents its opponent from making a shot, attempting a good shot, making an easy pass, or scoring events, eventually leading to wasted shot clock time. The salient feature here is that a good defender prevents events. Consequently, event driven metrics, such as box scores, cannot measure defensive abilities. Conventional wisdom in basketball is that ``pesky'' defenders continuously maintain a close distance to the ball handler. A closely guarded offensive player is less likely to take or make a shot, less likely to pass, and more likely to lose the ball. In chapter 6, we introduce Defensive Efficiency Rating (DER), a new statistic that measures the defensive effectiveness of a player. DER is the effective distance a defender maintains with the ball handler during an interaction where we control for the identity and wingspan of the the defender, the shot efficiency of the ball handler, and the zone on the court. DER allows us to quantify the quality of defensive interaction without being limited by the occurrence of discrete and infrequent events like shots and rebounds. We show that the ranking from this statistic naturally picks out defenders known to perform well in particular zones.

  • Operations research
  • Sports--Statistical methods
  • Basketball players--Ability testing
  • Simulation methods
  • Sports--Mathematical models
  • Basketball players--Rating of

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Research Article

The effects of sport expertise and shot results on basketball players’ action anticipation

Roles Conceptualization, Funding acquisition, Investigation, Methodology, Validation, Writing – original draft

Affiliation Department of Sports, Physical Education College of Zhengzhou University, Zhengzhou, China

Roles Conceptualization, Data curation, Funding acquisition, Methodology, Project administration, Software, Validation, Visualization, Writing – review & editing

* E-mail: [email protected]

Affiliation Department of Social Sports, Physical Education College of Zhengzhou University, Zhengzhou, China

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  • Yawei Li, 


  • Published: January 6, 2020
  • https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0227521
  • Reader Comments

Fig 1

The purpose of the present cross-sectional study was to clarify the effects of sport expertise and shot results on the action anticipation of basketball players. Eighty-eight male subjects participated in this study, namely, 30 collegiate basketball players, 28 recreational basketball players and 30 non-athletes. Each participant performed a shot anticipation task in which he watched the shooting phase, rising phase, high point and falling phase of a free throw and predicted the fate of the ball. The results showed that the collegiate players and recreational players demonstrated higher accuracy than the non-athletes for the falling phase but not for the other temporal conditions. Analysis of the shot results demonstrated that for made shots, the collegiate players and recreational players provided more accurate predictions than the non-athletes. These results suggested that the experienced players required a sufficient amount of information to be able to make accurate judgements and demonstrated that the experts’ judgement bias for made shots was independent of the temporal condition.

Citation: Li Y, Feng T (2020) The effects of sport expertise and shot results on basketball players’ action anticipation. PLoS ONE 15(1): e0227521. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0227521

Editor: William Marshall Land, University of Texas at San Antonio, UNITED STATES

Received: July 28, 2019; Accepted: December 19, 2019; Published: January 6, 2020

Copyright: © 2020 Li, Feng. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License , which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

Data Availability: All relevant data are within the paper and its Supporting Information files.

Funding: This work was supported by the National Social Science Found of China, grants No.19CTY013 awarded to Yawei Li and Tian Feng ( http://www.npopss-cn.gov.cn/ ). Humanities and social science research project of Henan Province Office of Education, grants No.2020-ZDJH-427 to Tian Feng ( http://www.haedu.gov.cn ). Research project of henan social science federation, grants SKL-2019-1955 to Yawei Li ( http://www.hnpopss.gov.cn ). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

Competing interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.


Action anticipation refers to the ability to predict the outcome of an event [ 1 ]. In contrast to racquet sports (such as tennis or badminton) in which a server usually decides the ball direction before starting his or her action, a basketball shooter can never be certain of the shot result until the final second. Thus, illustrating the development of shot anticipation ability in basketball is critical. Anticipating the outcome of an action, such as predicting whether a basketball will hit or miss the basket, directly affects the performance of an athlete. Accurate judgement helps a player plan his or her subsequent action (such as obtaining a rebound or playing defence) accordingly. Thus, the main goal of this study was to investigate the influence of sport expertise and shot results on the action anticipation of basketball players.

Studies have shown that sport expertise improves action anticipation ability. Aglioti and Cesari [ 2 ] asked basketball athletes, spectators (coaches or journalists) and novices to predict the success of free throws and found that the athletes responded earlier and more accurately than the other two groups of participants. Similarly, Uchida and Mizuguchi [ 3 ] compared the anticipation performance of experienced basketball players and novices observing a basketball free throw. The results demonstrated that the correct response rate among the experienced players was significantly greater than random chance (50%) and that of the novices, while the novices’ correct response rates were close to random chance. The distinct visual strategies used by athletes and novices may account for the observed differences. The researchers found that the basketball players focused more on body cues (i.e., the shooter’s knee, wrist and finger joint angles), while the novice group focused more on the ball [ 2 , 3 ].

Temporal information has been confirmed to play a necessary role in predicting outcomes, and the advantage of experts has been revealed in early time phases. Wu and Zeng [ 4 ] divided the time course of a free throw into three different phases with 11 sequential pictures as follows: the basketball leaving the model player’s hand (3 pictures), the basketball reaching the climax of its trajectory (6 pictures), and the basketball approaching the basket (9 pictures). The participants were required to predict the ball’s fate based on varying temporal information under different temporal conditions. The researchers found that when the participants observed 3 or 6 pictures, the athletes achieved higher prediction accuracy than the novices, indicating that experts utilize early cues better than novices when making predictions without complete information. Consistently, studies involving tennis or table tennis have shown that regional-level athletes use early valid information and achieve higher prediction accuracy than college-level and novice groups [ 5 , 6 ].

The result of a shot may be related to the anticipation advantage of elites, although most previous studies have concentrated only on the results of anticipation (i.e., correct or incorrect). The interaction between the actual results and anticipation yields the following four situations: true positive (correct prediction that a shot would be successful), false positive (incorrect prediction that a shot would be successful), true negative (correct prediction that a shot would be unsuccessful), and false negative (incorrect prediction that a shot was unsuccessful). Some studies have sought to determine the effect of shot results on anticipation at different visual angles. Cañal-Bruland and Balch [ 7 ] asked basketball players and observers to perform and observe shots. Both the players’ and observers’ vision was occluded at the time of the ball’s release, and they were asked to predict the ball’s fate. The authors found that the players were better at judging their own shots as “in” than judging others’ shots. To the best of our knowledge, only subjects who lack experience may have worse prediction accuracy than random chance (50%). Interestingly, a recent study by Maglott and Chiasson [ 8 ] found that for missed shots, collegiate shooters had worse prediction accuracy for their own shots than recreational shooters, and their prediction accuracy was significantly worse than random chance. Moreover, signal detection theory implies that collegiate players show a higher bias towards predicting that the shot result is “in”.

This judgement bias seems to be caused by the presence of the "regulatory fit" effect [ 9 ]. According to the theory of regulatory focus, two types of individual focus exist, namely, promotion focus and prevention focus [ 9 ]. Individuals with a promotion focus are eager to succeed and adopt more positive behavioural strategies, while individuals with a prevention focus are more inclined to avoid failure and adopt conservative behavioural strategies [ 10 ]. The effect emerges when the action strategy is consistent with one’s focus. Moreover, research conducted by Memmert and Unkelbach [ 11 ] shows that three-point shooting in basketball is more likely to be a task involving a promotion focus, and athletes exhibit better behavioural performance when matching with the action strategy. Therefore, predicting a shot as “in” is a positive strategy that may fit experts’ promotion focus, cause a regulatory fit, and thus improve their accuracy. In contrast, novices are more likely to have a prevention focus and exhibit superior performance when the ball is out.

Concerning the influence of the shot result, some important questions have been raised, but the answers remain unclear. Notably, experts and novices show different anticipation abilities in predicting the shot results of “in” and “out”. Will athletes exhibit an advantage in predicting successful shots when the shots are divided into varying time phases? Will the performance of athletes and novices change under different conditions of temporal occlusion? We sought to answer these questions by evaluating three groups of individuals with varying levels of basketball expertise (collegiate players, recreational players and non-athletes) and investigating the effect of shot results on action anticipation in different time phases. Both recreational players and non-athletes were included to determine whether a certain amount of expertise may confer a prediction advantage. We hypothesized that (1) compared to the non-athletes, the collegiate players and recreational players will show superior anticipation performance under the early temporal condition(s) and that the collegiate players will outperform the recreational players under the early temporal condition(s); (2) under the early temporal condition(s) of made shots, both collegiate players and recreational players will perform better than the non-athletes and that the collegiate players will be more accurate than the recreational players; and (3) for missed shots, the two experienced groups will provide more accurate predictions than the non-athletes under the early temporal conditions and that the collegiate players will outperform the recreational players.

Materials and methods

Ethical approval.

This study was carried out ethically and was approved by the Ethical Committee of Physical Education College of Zhengzhou University (No. 2019001). The individual in this manuscript has given written informed consent (as outlined in PLOS consent form) to publish these case details.


Eight-eight male subjects participated in this study, including 30 collegiate players (age: 21.53±0.97 years, height: 1.87±0.06 m, mass: 91.3±16.9 kg), 28 recreational players (age: 21.14±0.85 years, height: 1.79±0.04 m, mass: 77.6±14.7 kg) and 30 non-athletes (age: 21.00±1.15 years, height: 1.74±0.06 m, mass: 64.9±9.9 kg). The collegiate players participated on the basketball team of the Physical Education College of Zhengzhou University and practised 10.61±2.40 hours per week. The recreational players were collegiate track and field, boxing, rowing and judo athletes. These players participated in basketball games recreationally for 3.20±1.55 hours per week. The non-athletes were university students who had never participated in any sports training. The three groups did not vary in age, F (2, 83) = 2.23, p = 0.11, η p 2 = 0.51. Informed consent regarding the purpose and methods of the study and the obligations, responsibilities and rights of the subjects was obtained prior to the experiment.

Notably, we interrupted the complete sequence of each throw at one of four possible clip durations. We used continuous pictures rather than a video for the experimental stimuli since the selected pictures provided important information (for anticipation of the ball being “in” or “out”) that was more stable than information provided by a video. Two professional right-handed male athletes were required to shoot 60 free throws after warming up. All shots were recorded by a digital camera (Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, focal length of 3.5 mm). The camera height was 1.70 metres. Each shot was recorded at a speed of 6 frames per second from when the player held the ball to when the ball hit (or missed) the basket. Finally, at total of 40 free throws were selected according to the flight phase of the ball, including 20 made shots and 20 missed shots.

According to temporal information, the flight phase of a basketball and previous research results, each shot was divided into the following four temporal conditions: (1) the shooting phase, (2) the rising phase, (3) the high point, and (4) the falling phase. The final two pictures (pictures 11 and 12) were excluded from the experimental stimulus set to prevent the subjects from seeing the shot results. The exposure time for each picture was 167 ms, which was the same as the time required to take the pictures (6 pictures per second). Table 1 shows the characteristics of each temporal condition (the number of pictures, presentation time and ball position), and Fig 1 presents an example of the experimental stimuli.


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Continuous pictures of free-throw shooting as shown to the subjects. The pictures depict the time from when the player held the ball to the time when the ball hit (or missed) the basket. Each picture is presented for 167 ms, and the red line depicts when the shot stops under the 4 conditions of the temporal experimental stimuli.




The experiment was conducted in a quiet room at the Physical Education College of Zhengzhou University, and each participant was tested individually under the supervision of an experimenter. The participants completed a questionnaire regarding their individual information (i.e., sex, age, training year, height, mass, and training hours per week) and then participated in an action anticipation task. In the experiment, the participants were seated in front of a screen (23.8 inches) at a distance of 60 cm. A two-alternative forced choice task requiring the participants to predict the result of a free throw was conducted. The task began with a black cross-shaped fixation point on a white background displayed at the centre of the screen for 2,000 ms. Then, continuous pictures of a free throw were displayed, and each picture was presented for 167 ms at a resolution of 1024 x 682 pixels. After viewing all photos within each trial, the participants predicted the fate of the ball (made or missed by pressing the “F” key or the “J” key, respectively) quickly with the goal of being accurate. Responses submitted more than 3,000 ms after presentation of the stimulus were considered errors. The subsequent trial started immediately following completion of the previous trial. After reading the standardized task instructions, the subjects were asked to complete 15 practice trials with feedback (including 4, 6, 8 and 10 pictures). The pictures used in the practice trials were not used in the formal experiment. If a participant’s accuracy during the practice trials did not exceed 60%, i.e., the subject made more than 6 incorrect judgements, then he did not pass the practice session and was required to perform an additional practice session. Two collegiate players, two recreational players and five non-athletes required two practice sessions to meet the requirement. One collegiate player and one non-athlete required three practice sessions to meet the requirement. The experiment included 160 trials (40 shots×4 temporal conditions, 668 ms, 1002 ms, 1336 ms and 1670 ms), and the 40 shots included 20 successful shots and 20 missed shots under each temporal condition. All trials were divided into 8 blocks, and each block included 20 shots (both successful and missed) under one of the four conditions. The experiment was designed and displayed with E-prime 2.0 (Psychology Software Tools, Inc., Pennsylvania, USA). The response keys for the made and missed shots were counterbalanced across the subjects, and no feedback was provided during the experimental trials. A 30-second break was provided between each block. The entire experiment lasted approximately 50 min.

Statistical analyses

Assessing the reaction time of the participants is difficult because the participants were able to make their decisions before the option to press the key became available, and each prediction was made after the picture disappeared. Therefore, only the accuracy results were evaluated. The accuracies in the three groups under each temporal condition exhibited normal distributions ( z < .803, p >.539 in all instances). To test Hypotheses 1, 2 and 3 regarding the performance of the three groups under different temporal conditions and shot results, a mixed-design three-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) model with accuracy as the dependent variable, group (collegiate players, recreational players, and non-athletes) as the between-subjects factor, and temporal condition (668 ms, 1002 ms, 1336 ms and 1670 ms) and shot result (made shots and missed shots) as the within-subjects factors was calculated. Greenhouse-Geisser correction was applied when the assumption of sphericity was violated, and Bonferroni-corrected post hoc t -tests were used to identify the main effects and interactions.

The ANOVA of accuracy indicated significant main effects of the temporal condition, F (3, 255) = 65.20, p <0.001, η p 2 = 0.43, and shot result, F (1,85) = 59.15, p <0.001, η p 2 = 0.41, but not group, F (2, 85) = 1.40, p = 0.253, η p 2 = 0.03. The interaction between the temporal condition and group was significant, F (6, 255) = 5.69, p <0.001, η p 2 = 0.12. The post hoc tests of accuracy under the four temporal conditions per group revealed that under the 1670-ms condition, the collegiate players ( M = 0.71, SD = 0.11) showed better accuracy than the non-athletes ( M = 0.59, SD = 0.10, p <0.001), but the recreational players ( M = 0.65, SD = 0.11) did not differ from the other two groups of participants ( p >0.112 in all instances). No significant difference was found among the three groups under any other temporal conditions ( p >0.173 in all instances, see Fig 2 .).



Additionally, a marginally significant interaction was found between the shot result and group, F (2, 85) = 3.02, p = 0.054, η p 2 = 0.07. Fig 3 shows the results of the post hoc tests. Under the made shot condition, the collegiate players were superior to the non-athletes (collegiate players: M = 0.69, SD = 0.13, non-athletes: M = 0.60, SD = 0.16, p <0.05), but the recreational players ( M = 0.64, SD = 0.11) did not differ from the other two groups of participants ( p >0.440 in all instances). For the missed shot condition, no significant differences between the groups were found (collegiate players: M = 0.42, SD = 0.12, recreational players: M = 0.44, SD = 0.11, non-athletes: M = 0.48, SD = 0.14, p >0.243 in all instances).



The interaction between temporal condition and shot result was significant, F (3, 255) = 9.54, p <0.001, η p 2 = 0.10, and post hoc tests showed that all participants predicted the made shots ( M = 0.65, SD = 0.14) better than the missed shots ( M = 0.45, SD = 0.12) under every temporal condition ( p <0.001 in all instances). The three-way interaction was not significant, F (6, 255) = 0.94, p = 0.455, η p 2 = 0.02.

The present study is the first to clarify the effects of sport expertise and shot results on the action anticipation of basketball players. The performance of basketball players with varying skill levels (collegiate players and recreational players) and non-athletes was compared in an action anticipation task. Concerning the temporal conditions and shot results, the results demonstrated that the collegiate players and recreational players exhibited better accuracy than the non-athletes for the falling phase but not for the other temporal conditions. Additionally, all participants showed superior performance for made shots versus missed shots under every temporal condition. Furthermore, for the made shots, the collegiate players demonstrated higher prediction accuracy than the non-athletes. This study is the first to combine different temporal information with shot results to test the anticipation of basketball players with varying skill levels and non-athletes; thus, the results of this study may add important information to the present literature.

In the field of action anticipation, sport expertise and temporal information have attracted considerable interest. Studies focusing on the anticipation of basketball shooting found that when watching early (from 429 ms to 858 ms) and medium-term (from 426 ms to 852 ms) action phases during a shot, athletes provided more responses and predicted the shot result more accurately, but no difference between groups was found when they watched the late action phase of the shots [ 2 , 4 ]. However, the present study compared the accuracy of basketball players with varying levels of experience and non-athletes under different temporal conditions (0–668 ms, 0–1002 ms, 0–1336 ms and 0–1670 ms after the start of the shot) and demonstrated the advantage of collegiate players under the latest temporal condition (i.e., the phase when the ball approached the basket). This result contradicts the findings of previous studies and Hypothesis 1. This inconsistency may be caused by differences in experimental protocols. Our study required the subjects to make a two-alternative decision regarding whether a shot would be successful or missed, which is similar to actual situations in sports. Accordingly, as the information provided to a subject decreases, the accuracy should approach 50%. The studies conducted by Aglioti and Cesari [ 2 ] and Wu and Zeng [ 4 ] allowed the subjects to make an uncertain choice (i.e., “I do not know”), which may lead to different response strategies. In the early and medium-term action phases of the shots, the non-athletes were more inclined to choose uncertainty, but the athletes tended to make certain judgements and showed better performance. Furthermore, in the study conducted by Aglioti and Cesari [ 2 ], the non-athletes’ accuracy was approximately 80% when watching a shot for 1207 ms (similar to the high point phase in our study), while the present study found that the accuracies of the players and non-athletes were only 52% and 53%, respectively. The differences in the results may be explained by individual differences in the participants. Our results implied that the experienced players required a sufficient amount of information to be able to make accurate judgements.

In addition, other studies concerning anticipation in tennis or table tennis revealed that elite athletes were able to utilize early valid information to facilitate their prediction of the ball direction [ 5 , 6 ]. Zhao and Lu [ 5 ] found that when observing a video of table tennis serves with early kinematic cues and early flight cues, the regional-level group had higher prediction accuracy than the college-level and novice groups. To the best of our knowledge, a tennis server usually determines the ball’s direction before he or she serves. Thus, the server’s body posture presents some directional information that experienced players can use to make accurate judgements. In contrast to tennis serving, basketball shooting is a more uncertain task during which the shooter may think “I hope that the ball goes in, but I am not sure”; thus, early clues may not be present due to the uncertainty of the shot result.

According to previous studies, sport expertise seems to cause an anticipation bias towards made shots. Analysis of the shot results and groups revealed that basketball playing experience selectively influenced the collegiate players’ anticipation of a shot. For the made shots, the accuracy of the collegiate players was significantly higher than that of the non-athletes. Consistent with these results, Cañal-Bruland and Balch [ 7 ] and Maglott and Chiasson [ 8 ] demonstrated that players shooting a ball were better at judging their own shots as “in” than observers and recreational shooters. Although their experiment required the participants to shoot a ball themselves and then to make a judgement using both visual and proprioceptive information, our study required the participants to judge other people’s shots and showed that the collegiate players performed better than the other groups when presented with made shots, suggesting that experts can match the proprioception of their own shots to the visual information of others’ shots.

Additionally, regulatory focus theory suggests that performance improvement is affected by the "regulatory fit" [ 12 ]. Expert basketball players have higher motivation for achievement and must exert their best effort to win a match, conferring a self-regulatory focus, i.e., “focus on gains”, and a behavioural strategy, i.e., “search for a win”. Memmert and Unkelbach [ 11 ] found that the regulatory fit led to a broader scope of attention in a basketball shot task. When individuals with a “focus on gains” were required to predict whether positive results would occur (e.g., expert players were required to judge whether a shot would be a successful shot), the regulatory fit could help them improve their performance [ 13 ]. Regarding signal detection theory, the goal of “focus on gains” individuals is to ensure a “hit” and prevent a “miss” [ 12 ]. Consistent with this theory, the superior performance (e.g., more hits and fewer misses) of the collegiate players in the present study may be due to the effect of the regulatory fit. However, our results were not completely consistent with Hypothesis 2. The present study corroborated that the experts’ accuracy was higher than that of the other groups regardless of the temporal condition, indicating that the anticipation bias of experts existed in all phases of a shot.

By comparing the accuracy of the missed shots, the results showed an interesting trend such that the accuracy of the missed shot predictions gradually decreased as the skill level increased under all conditions. Similarly, Maglott and Chiasson [ 8 ] reported that for missed shots, collegiate shooters had poorer prediction accuracy regarding their own shots than recreational shooters, and their prediction accuracy was significantly worse than random chance. Adding a non-athlete group in the present study demonstrated the effect more specifically. The accuracy of the collegiate players and recreational players for missed shots was lower than that of the non-athletes. In addition, the differences between the accuracy in each group and random chance (50%) were compared according to a study conducted by Uchida and Mizuguchi [ 3 ]. The accuracy of the collegiate players and recreational players for missed shots was lower than random chance in the first three phases (collegiate players: t <-3.65, p <0.001 in all instances; recreational players: t <-2.26, p <0.05 in all instances), but no such difference was observed in the non-athlete group in any shot phase ( t >-1.13, p >0.12 in all instances). Consistent with this finding, studies have found that sometimes skilled athletes’ subconscious can inhibit objective visual information [ 14 ]. The subjective expectations of made shots in the present study appeared to represent this type of subconscious, which has also been called overconfidence or desirability bias [ 7 ]. Although some researchers may consider this bias a useful tool for experts to successfully shoot a free throw [ 15 ], it indeed impeded the experts’ prediction accuracy. At least, the poor performance of the experts reminded the collegiate players to not always think that a shot will be successful.

Some limitations existed in the present study. First, an anticipation error can be corrected by a rebound or reshot if the person who made the judgement realizes his or her mistake. Aglioti and Cesari [ 2 ] found that only experts have the ability to distinguish between error and correct judgements. However, the present study did not examine whether the participants could determine whether their judgements were correct or incorrect. Additionally, future studies should determine whether error realization can be affected by temporal information or shot results. Second, the present study required the subjects to respond after viewing 4, 6, 8 and 10 pictures. The experimental protocol was not totally consistent with an actual situation in the sport. In a basketball game, players can predict the ball’s fate at any time after the ball is released; thus, future designs of the anticipation task may use complete videos and allow subjects to make predictions at any time during the video. Finally, the recreational group in the present study included athletes from other sports, such as track and field, boxing, rowing and judo, and whether experience in other sports may transfer to action anticipation is unknown. Therefore, more studies are needed to compare players with different levels of basketball expertise only.


The present study considered the effects of sport expertise and shot results on the action anticipation of basketball players. When free throws were divided into four temporal conditions (i.e., the shooting phase, the rising phase, the high point and the falling phase), the collegiate players and recreational players demonstrated better accuracy than the non-athletes for the falling phase but not for the other temporal conditions. Concerning the accuracy of the shot results, the results showed that the collegiate players and recreational players had more accurate predictions than the non-athletes when judging made shots in the late time phase. Moreover, an analysis of the missed shots revealed worse performance by the collegiate players compared with the non-athletes in the middle time phase.

Supporting information

S1 file. raw data..


S2 File. Ethical approval.


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The NBA and Youth Basketball: Recommendations for Promoting a Healthy and Positive Experience

John p. difiori.

1 Primary Care Sports Medicine, Hospital for Special Surgery, 535 East 70th Street, New York, NY 10021 USA

Arne Güllich

2 Department of Sports Science, University of Kaiserslautern, Kaiserslautern, Germany

Joel S. Brenner

3 Department of Pediatrics, Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters Eastern Virginia Medical School, Norfolk, VA USA

Jean Côté

4 School of Kinesiology and Health Studies, Queens University, Kingston, ON Canada

Brian Hainline

5 NCAA, Indianapolis, IN USA

Edward Ryan, III

6 USA Basketball, Colorado Springs, CO USA

Robert M. Malina

7 Department of Kinesiology and Health Education, University of Texas, Austin, TX USA

Participation in sports offers both short-term and long-term physical and psychosocial benefits for children and adolescents. However, an overemphasis on competitive success in youth sports may limit the benefits of participation, and could increase the risk of injury, burnout, and disengagement from physical activity. The National Basketball Association and USA Basketball recently assembled a group of leading experts to share their applied research and practices to address these issues. This review includes the group’s analysis of the existing body of research regarding youth sports participation and the related health, performance, and psychosocial outcomes. Based upon this, age-specific recommendations for basketball participation are provided that aim to promote a healthy and positive experience for youth basketball players.

Participation in sports offers both short-term and long-term physical and psychosocial benefits for children and adolescents.
Youth should be provided opportunities and encouraged to sample different sports. They should avoid specializing in basketball prior to age 14 years.
The NBA and USA Basketball have developed age-specific guidelines for basketball participation for young athletes that are intended to promote a healthy and positive youth basketball experience.

Participation in youth sports such as basketball offers many potential benefits for children and adolescents. Youth sport participation provides an avenue to develop peer relationships, self-esteem, and leadership qualities [ 1 ]. It may also lay the foundation for an active and healthier adult lifestyle [ 2 – 4 ]. Basketball has one of the highest rates of youth sport participation and is well suited to offer young athletes opportunities to obtain these benefits.

However, an overemphasis on competitive success in youth sports may impede children from realizing the benefits of participation, and may ultimately limit their ability to reach their athletic potential. Such a highly-competitive approach may be driven by desires for children to gain placement on elite travel teams, secure high school roster spots, obtain collegiate scholarships, and eventually earn professional contracts. This focus on early results rather than playing sport for enjoyment and the long-term physical and psycho-social benefits has led to several well-recognized issues:

  • Pressure to begin high-intensity training in childhood.
  • Single-sport specialization that occurs prior to adolescence.
  • Frequent and multiple competitive event scheduling.
  • Increased risk for injury, burnout, and disengagement from health-promoting physical activity both in the short term and the long term.

The idea that single-sport training at young ages increases the prospect of future sport success has been popularized in the media, but there are few scientific data to support this approach. Yet, there is a fear among parents, coaches, and young athletes that not specializing in one sport early will place the child at a competitive disadvantage. In fact, research indicates that early sport specialization is not a pre-requisite and may even be detrimental to long-term achievement and elite performance [ 5 – 14 ]. There is also a concern that excessive focus on sport-specific intensive training and competition at a young age may impede an athlete’s ability to develop transferable athletic skills, and possibly increase the risk of burnout and overuse injury, rather than optimize participation and foster interest in a variety of sports [ 15 – 20 ]. Regarding the relationship between injury and early single-sport specialization, the data at this time are limited and do not provide consistent evidence [ 21 – 26 ].

Aim and Procedure

In 2016, the Jr. NBA partnered with USA Basketball to address issues facing youth basketball in the USA. As part of this initiative, a multidisciplinary team of clinicians and researchers with expertise in athlete development and youth sports was assembled.

This group assessed the existing research related to youth sport participation, focusing on the sport of basketball. A series of seven meetings were held from May 2016 to July 2017 to review these data. From this, the recommendations for best practice in youth basketball were developed. Each recommendation was classified using the Strength of Recommendation Taxonomy system (SORT, Table  1 ) [ 27 ].

Table 1

Strength of recommendation taxonomy (SORT)

Strength of recommendationBasis for recommendation
AConsistent, good-quality, patient-oriented evidence
BInconsistent or limited-quality patient-oriented evidence
CConsensus, disease-oriented evidence, usual practice, expert opinion, or case series for studies of diagnosis, treatment, prevention, or screening

Basketball Participation

Basketball has high levels of participation for girls and boys across all age ranges, including recreational play and organized competition. Among US youth 6–14 years of age, 14.4 million play basketball, representing 39% of this age group [ 28 ]. Furthermore, basketball is the most popular team sport for those 12–17 years of age, with over 11 million participants. At the high school level, approximately 430,000 girls and 550,000 boys play interscholastic basketball [ 29 ]. Importantly, the top reason for playing basketball, cited by 74% of children and adolescents, is to have fun [ 30 ]. Basketball is a sport that can be modified so that it can be played informally in groupings of one, two, or three players on a side (i.e., one-on-one, two-on-two, or three-on-three). In fact, 50% of children and adolescents cite that one of the reasons they started to play basketball was because it can be played with any number of people [ 30 ]. Such recreational play is also a reason that the game can be enjoyed into adulthood. In addition, wheelchair basketball is a team sport for individuals with chronic conditions resulting in lower-limb disability such as spinal cord injury, cerebral palsy, musculoskeletal conditions, spina bifida, amputation, and poliomyelitis, and a reduced ability to play running basketball in the same manner as able-bodied players [ 31 , 32 ].

Basketball Promotes Healthy Youth

In addition to the psychosocial benefits described above, youth sports can provide participants with other health benefits, including those involving the cardiorespiratory, musculoskeletal, and metabolic systems [ 33 – 39 ]. While physical activity is essential for healthy childhood growth and development, children in the USA and globally are not sufficiently active [ 40 ]. Recent research has shown that the development of fundamental movement skills (FMS) in children is linked to lower levels of overweight, and higher levels of physical activity, cardiorespiratory fitness, and self-esteem [ 41 ]. Mastery of FMS such as the sprint run, vertical jump, and overarm throw, has been shown to be low [ 41 , 42 ]. However, the implementation of FMS programs in schools is effective in improving FMS competencies [ 42 ].

Basketball promotes speed, agility, strength, power, endurance, flexibility, and motor coordination. As a result, basketball is uniquely oriented to improve FMS, and has been shown to be beneficial in promoting general health. In one study, basketball, along with soccer and track, provided middle school children the highest level of physical activity, regardless of the way schools offered the sport [ 43 ]. This is important in light of public health concerns related to obesity and diabetes among youth, while paradoxically, participation in school-sponsored physical education programs is low [ 44 ]. Specifically, the study suggested that basketball can effectively increase physical activity and reduce the long-term negative health consequences of an inactive lifestyle, while being an efficient option in the face of limited school resources.

Basketball can also have a positive effect on bone mineral density (BMD) for boys and girls [ 45 – 47 ]. A prospective study of teenage girls compared basketball players to age-matched controls and found that those who played basketball had significant increases in BMD [ 48 ]. This is important since maximizing BMD at these ages provides the basis for long-term bone health throughout adulthood [ 49 ].

There is also evidence that health benefits obtained via youth sports activity can extend into adulthood [ 50 – 54 ]. For example, physical activity during adolescence predicts lower cardiometabolic risk in adulthood [ 55 ]. In addition, youth sport participation appears to be associated with better mental health in later life [ 56 ]. Importantly, because basketball can be modified to allow participation in various small-sided formats, it is a sport that is conducive for participation well into adulthood, thus yielding health benefits over a wide age range.

Injuries in Youth Sports: How Does Basketball Compare?

Among youth sports, basketball has a relatively low injury rate. A decade-long surveillance study of US high school sports found that basketball consistently had lower injury rates than football, wrestling, and boys’ and girls’ soccer [ 57 ]. With respect to overuse injuries, basketball has a relatively low injury rate at the high school level [ 58 ]. In fact, in a study of high school sports, basketball had the lowest overuse injury rate in boys and the second lowest rate in girls [ 58 ]. In addition, among female middle school athletes, basketball had a lower injury rate than both soccer and volleyball [ 59 ].

Injury Risk Factors and Injury Prevention in Youth Basketball

Risk factors.

Several risk factors for injury in youth sport have been identified, though data specific to basketball are limited. Prior injury, low energy availability, and training volume have been shown to be important risk factors. Previous sport-related injury is perhaps the most-established predictor of subsequent injury [ 60 – 62 ]. Low energy availability, a relative deficit in energy needs, may increase the risk of bone stress injuries in both boys and girls [ 63 , 64 ]. Bone stress injuries that are a result of low energy availability highlight the dangers of excessive training and competition, especially when combined with inadequate provision for re-fueling and recovery [ 63 – 65 ]. A weekly training time of > 16 h per week among 14- to 18-year-old youth has been correlated with injury risk [ 66 – 68 ]. As in most sports, the injury rate in basketball is greater in competition than practice [ 69 , 70 ]. In addition, youth athletes who participated in organized sports compared to peer-led play at greater than a 2:1 ratio were found to have an increased injury risk [ 22 , 71 ]. However, the actual risk associated with different amounts of participation still needs validation [ 22 , 71 ]. In addition to training volume, the risk of injury may be greater during the adolescent growth spurt, though further study is needed [ 15 , 16 ].

It is not clear if these data are generalizable to basketball or to more structured sport training settings. Research is also needed to guide long-term, sport-specific development programs.

Injury Prevention

Data on injury prevention programs for sports in general and for basketball in particular are limited. In addition, very little research has focused specifically on injury prevention among young athletes. Aimed at providing youth athletes with a standardized warm-up designed to prevent non-contact knee and lower extremity injuries in soccer, the original FIFA 11 program and the more recent FIFA 11+ modification have had a favorable effect in decreasing certain soccer injuries [ 72 – 75 ]. The program consists of 15 exercises that include running, active stretching, core strength, balance, and agility. A recent study using the FIFA 11+ program in high-level European basketball players also reported a reduction of injury in several categories [ 76 ]. A similar neuromuscular training program has been shown to be effective in high school basketball players [ 77 ].

Other studies have focused on improving balance to decrease injury rates. Such studies have included adolescent and professional basketball players, and have been shown to be effective in reducing acute injuries including ankle and knee sprains, as well as back injuries [ 78 , 79 ]. A program aimed at preventing hamstring injuries has been validated in soccer, but has not yet been studied in basketball [ 80 ].

Strength and conditioning programs may play a role in injury prevention as well. These programs can be safely performed by young athletes if properly implemented and supervised. In particular, preseason conditioning programs appear effective in reducing injuries [ 81 – 87 ].

An often-overlooked component of athlete development and injury prevention is rest. In a study of high school athletes, a 42% increase in self-reported overuse injuries was noted among those who participated all year compared to those who trained in three or fewer seasons per year [ 88 ]. At least one rest day per week, and additional periods of time away from organized sports, are recommended for physical recovery and to avoid burnout [ 15 , 16 ]. In addition, sports events or “tournaments” that involve more than one full-length competition per day, in some cases for multiple consecutive days, may in some circumstances increase injury risk further due to the high-volume loading coupled with limited recovery time [ 15 , 16 ].

Thus, neuromuscular training programs, including a modified FIFA 11+ program, appear promising for reducing lower extremity injuries and should be considered for broader implementation trials in youth basketball. Recent consensus statements from the American Orthopedic Society for Sports Medicine (AOSSM) and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) are supportive of such measures [ 71 , 89 ]. Measures that focus on monitoring and managing training volume—including scheduled rest and recovery, ensuring proper treatment when injuries occur, and addressing issues of relatively low energy availability and bone health—are warranted [ 64 ]. Injury prevention programs aimed at reducing hamstring injuries appear valid but need further study in basketball players.

Early Single Sport Specialization—The Road to Success?

Single sport specialization can be defined as intensive year-round training in one sport to the exclusion of others [ 90 ]. A perception exists among parents, athletes, and coaches that early single-sport specialization is necessary for long-term success. This can lead to a focus on short-term results at young ages rather than the overall development process.

The concept of early sport specialization was popularized in the USA more than 20 years ago based upon studies of chess players and musicians, but not athletes [ 91 ]. The central tenet of this model is that an individual’s ultimate level of performance is directly related to the accumulated amount of deliberate practice (DP). The authors advocated the maximization of DP, which implies an early start, intensification, and subsequent expansion of DP. It was suggested that 10 years of DP is needed to achieve the highest performance levels [ 91 ].

In contrast, the state of empirical research in athletes does not provide much support for these perceptions. Several studies have shown that competitive success at the youth level correlates modestly at best, or not at all, with long-term senior success [ 8 , 9 , 92 – 94 ]. That is, early success has been described as neither a necessary precondition nor a valid predictor of long-term success.

A recent review highlighted that the participation patterns that likely lead to youth success are not the same as those that facilitate long-term development and adult success [ 95 ]. Short-term youth success is indeed correlated with early single sport specialization and intensified, sport-specific practice/training during childhood (age ≤ 12 years) and adolescence (13–18 years) [ 9 , 96 – 102 ]. In contrast, adult world-class athletes from all Olympic sports and different countries typically engaged in only moderate levels of early practice/training intensity in their respective primary sport. Reports of world-class athletes in basketball, field hockey, and soccer show that they attained international success accumulating much less than 10,000 practice h, specifically 4000–4500 h [ 11 , 12 , 81 ]. In this context, world-class athletes (e.g., Olympic and World Champions, medalists or top-ten athletes) did not differ from national-class peers in terms of the amount of sport-specific youth practice/training [ 5 , 9 , 11 , 12 , 95 , 103 – 105 ]. Interestingly, several studies indicate that eventual world class athletes had a relatively lower level of sport-specific training during childhood [ 5 , 9 , 103 , 106 ]. Further, international-level performers typically participated in a diverse set of sport activities, including peer-led play, and organized practice in various sports. Importantly, world-class athletes were more likely than national-class peers to engage in multiple sports [ 13 , 95 , 106 ]. These athletes specialized in their primary sport significantly later than their national-class peers [ 5 , 9 – 12 , 106 ]. These findings have been confirmed even when comparing Olympic and World Championship medalists to non-medalists [ 13 , 106 ]. These findings were also consistent across different countries and types of sports, and were confirmed in a 3-year prospective study [ 9 ].

Further, closer scrutiny of the “micro-structure” of practice of German world-class soccer players highlighted the significance of play . Within their total childhood soccer activities, only 14% involved drill-like training of technical skills or physical conditioning. As much as 86% was a combination of coach-led play (17%; including conditioned, small-sided games), and peer-led play (69%; “kicking around with friends”) [ 11 ].

These observations do not diminish the critical significance of organized sport-specific practice on specific skill development. However, it should be recognized and placed into perspective that early reinforced intensification and specialization is unnecessary and may even be detrimental to long-term success. Alternatively, the interaction of sport-specific practice with multisport practice and play facilitates long-term development [ 9 , 17 , 19 , 90 , 106 , 107 ].

The preceding discussion presumably relies on the interplay of three processes. First, in addition to training volume per se , single-sport specialization may constitute an independent risk factor of overuse injury. Diversified involvement may reduce susceptibility to overuse injury, presumably due to less cumulative stereotypical mechanical impact on certain tissues and may promote prolonged participation [ 15 , 17 , 19 , 22 , 24 , 90 , 107 ]. Second, youth who have explored various sports may make the decision to invest in one primary sport based on their own experiences in different sports. This likely enhances the probability that a child or adolescent elects a primary sport that optimally “fits” him or her (where “optimal fit” may represent talent at a particular sport, experienced performance progress, enjoyment, health, social interaction, etc.) [ 8 , 9 ]. Third, physical conditioning and perceptual-motor and psychological skills can be directly transferred across related sports [ 108 – 112 ]. Perhaps more importantly, early variable learning experiences improve the efficacy of (later) practice within the primary sport (greater performance improvement per invested practice time) [ 5 , 9 , 11 , 12 , 14 , 106 , 113 ]. Athletes acquire a multifaceted repertoire in terms of a wider and closer-meshed “network” of perceptual-motor skills, which facilitates the emergence of functional skill solutions [ 95 , 114 ]. Play , in particular, unlike drill-like practice exercises, involves the interaction of situation dynamics, perception, and motor solutions, and also provides extensive implicit skill learning. This may lead to more robust skills exhibiting less susceptibility to physiological or psychological stress and better retention [ 115 , 116 ]. Peer-led play, for its part, may further amplify tasks and situations (playing different roles/positions, varying rules, surfaces, court sizes, balls, number and skill level of participants) [ 95 ]. Moreover, exploring varying practice designs and learning modes can facilitate the development of individual functional learning solutions , leading to more adaptive, “smarter learners” [ 95 , 106 , 113 ]. In this context, it is important to note that the multisport participation of world-class athletes constituted authentic experiences in that it typically included multi-year competition -related engagement—i.e. long-term dedicated, performance-related learning processes with specialist coaches in broadened ranges of tasks and situations [ 9 , 11 , 12 , 14 , 106 ].

Consistent with this discussion, a number of reviews and position statements have highlighted the potentially negative effects of early specialization and the positive impact of diversified youth experiences among sports and settings [ 13 , 15 , 16 , 71 , 83 , 90 , 117 – 124 ]. This reinforces the idea that childhood/adolescence multisport engagement facilitates long-term performance development—in association with positive health and psychosocial development. At the program and sport system level, this contributes to the growth of prolonged youth sport participation and expands the potential pool of talented youth athletes. In contrast, reinforcing early specialization likely diminishes general participation and the “talent pool.”

Personal Engagement as a Model for a Positive and Successful Youth Basketball Experience

The findings described above have also been highlighted in applied frameworks informing policy-makers and stakeholders of the sport system, such as FTEM (Foundations, Talent, Elite, Mastery) or the DMSP (Developmental Model of Sport Participation) [ 6 , 118 , 125 , 126 ]. The practitioner-derived FTEM highlights the socio-environmental, organizational, and sport-system requirements and applications, while the DMSP more particularly looks into the psychosocial influences and outcomes in terms of positive youth development. Both frameworks emphasize the foundational role of early diversified involvement for either developing sporting excellence or prolonged recreational engagement. This section focuses on the DMSP.

The DMSP posits that personal engagement in sport grows from involvement in sport activities, relationships, and environments that evolve throughout development [ 127 ]. Combining personal engagement in sport with early sport sampling promotes a rewarding youth experience and long-term sport success [ 128 ]. For either recreational or competitive basketball, personal engagement is a primary objective of participation during youth. For this to occur, resources to develop personal meaning are needed, including: access to appropriate sport environments and role models; activities that provide personal relevance; a positive social climate; encouragement in the face of difficulty; opportunities for leadership, challenge, and knowledge-building; and opportunities to feel in-control, competent, and connected with others [ 129 – 134 ].

Within the DMSP, the sampling years lay an important foundation for youth to achieve optimal outcomes in sport over time [ 130 ]. Sampling generally begins during childhood, and is characterized by participation in a variety of different sports, as well as different activities within a given sport (e.g., peer-led play, organized coach-led practice). Following the sampling years, athletes may continue to participate in sport at a recreational level or begin to invest more and perhaps specialize in one sport during adolescence or later.

At any stage within the DMSP, youth may choose to disengage from sport; however, nurturing individual capacities for personal engagement throughout development enhances opportunities for physical and psychosocial development. By focusing on the personal, social, and physical features of different activities (e.g., interest, play, practice, sampling, specialization) across development, the DMSP suggests that the positive outcomes of sport result from the integration of processes that include personal engagement in a sport activity, the social relationships that are formed within this activity, and the physical environment in which this activity takes place [ 135 ]. More recently, the features of the DMSP have been integrated with previous youth sport research and principles from developmental systems theories to create the Personal Assets Framework for sport (PAF) [ 136 – 138 ].

The PAF is, in essence, a set of key elements that should be combined to provide quality sport programs for youth that not only contribute in a positive way to the overall development and well-being of the person, but also to the development of talent in sport. In line with developmental systems theories, the PAF considers personal (i.e., personal engagement in activities), relational (i.e., quality relationships), and environmental factors (i.e., appropriate social and physical settings) as the elements necessary to understand the mechanisms through which development occurs in and through sport. The interaction of the three dynamic elements constitutes a specific sport experience—for example, a game, practice, or team social activity. When repeated over a period of time, such as the span of one season, the specific sport experiences generate changes in an athlete’s personal assets (e.g., confidence, competence, connection, and character) and provide personal meaning to the sport being practiced. Eventually, changes in the personal assets will influence the long-term outcomes of sport in relation to the individual’s participation, performance, and personal development [ 139 , 140 ].

The PAF highlights the dynamic elements and personal assets that should be combined in youth basketball programs that promote performance, participation, and personal development. Different lines of research on sport expertise and youth sport demonstrate that the objective of elite performance and continued participation are not mutually exclusive during childhood and that effectively designed sport programs for children can contribute to the overall development of youth in sport [ 141 ].

Two concepts regarding sport involvement throughout the lifespan consistently emerged from the empirical data that support an early sampling approach: diversity and peer-led play [ 136 ]. Firstly, the concept of diversity describes a level of involvement in different types of sport experiences during childhood (e.g., participating in different sport activities, or playing different positions within a sport activity), before specializing and intense training in one sport. Secondly, the concept of peer-led play relates to the notion that elite-level athletes engaged in sport activities during childhood that were inherently enjoyable and differed from organized sport and adult-led practices [ 136 ]. Peer-led sport-play activities represent a distinctive form of sport activities that add to the breadth of contexts and experiences of the youth sport environment. Together, the concepts of diversity and peer-led play form the backbone of the sampling years and may have a protective effect against burnout, dropout, and/or injuries [ 17 – 19 , 142 ].

At a population level, youth sport programs that focus on diversity before specialization and play before practice may better maximize the potential impact that youth sport activities can have on youth development and long-term performance in sport. As suggested by the different pathways of the DMSP, the diversity and play aspect of sport activities during the sampling years should not be viewed as a discriminating factor that predicts sport expertise, but rather as a foundation for optimal development in an elite performance or recreational pathway. The nurturing of talent through sampling without an intense focus on performance in one sport during childhood can have more positive outcomes and less negative consequences for all children involved in sport, while still facilitating the development of expertise.

Growth, Maturation, and Readiness for Basketball

Sport readiness is the relationship between a child’s stage of growth and development and the physical and cognitive requirements of that sport [ 143 ]. Understanding that motor skills as well as social and emotional development influence a young athlete’s ability to perform physical tasks and to understand instructions is essential to promote a rewarding experience. Given inter-individual variability, chronologic age is not a reliable marker for these development levels [ 15 ].

It is clear that if a child is expected to learn too many skills that are beyond his or her ability, the child may become less motivated to learn new skills, and may eventually cease participation in the sport [ 144 ]. Conversely, a child who begins to master new tasks will develop a feeling of competence that may motivate further skill acquisition, and further interest in the sport [ 143 ].

Coaches and parents who are not aware of these issues may unintentionally create unrealistic expectations that can cause children and adolescents to feel as if they are not making progress, especially compared to chronological peers who may simply be at a different stage of growth and maturation. This, in turn, can result in loss of self-esteem and sport discontinuation [ 144 ].

Although there is no straightforward way to determine if a child is ready for basketball or another sport, important factors to consider include sport-related skills, knowledge about the sport, motivation, and socialization [ 142 , 145 ]. Parents and youth coaches should recognize the need to nurture young athletes. It is important to appreciate that even for talented individuals, the ups and downs along the path might be more related to biological maturation than to specific coaching and training techniques [ 123 ].


Basketball, both competitive and recreational, is a sport that has many positive attributes with respect to health and wellness. It involves moderate to high levels of sustained activity, has a relatively low injury rate, engenders positive psychosocial interactions, and is perceived as a fun game to play. The last point is significant in that it encourages long-term involvement, which in turn provides for benefits that extend into adulthood.


Based upon the preceding review of the literature and the consensus of this working group, the NBA and USA Basketball offer the recommendations described in Table  2 for young athletes, parents, coaches, and basketball organizations. Each recommendation is graded using the SORT system [ 27 ].

Table 2

Recommendations for youth basketball participation

Personal engagement Sport programs that invest in providing opportunities for youth to connect with others, build relationships, and take on challenges and leadership roles promote overall personal development, well-being, and talent developmentB
Multisport engagement and delayed specialization Multisport engagement through childhood and adolescence is associated with reduced risks of overuse injury, and facilitates prolonged participation, psychosocial development, as well as long-term talent development. World-class athletes in basketball and other sports often delayed single-sport specialization until age 16 years or later. It is recommended that specialization for basketball be delayed until this age. However, given that the age of high-school entry in the USA is typically age 14 years, the working group recognizes that specialization may occur at this time. However, specialization prior to age 14 years is discouragedB
Varied settings Peer-led basketball play allows youngsters to experience largely self-determined, intrinsically motivated activity, be creative and challenge themselves. It may contribute to individual growth and long-term talent developmentB
Rest and time off It is recommended to ensure a minimum of one day of rest each week and multiple months per year away from organized basketball. Proper daily sleep, rest days, and off-periods provide physical recovery, reduce injury risks, and further psychological rechargingC
Competition density and cumulation High-density competition scheduling may increase injury risk and fatigue, and lead to loss of motivation. Parents, coaches, event directors and administrators should be cautious in designing basketball events. The working group recommends a maximum of two games per week per player through childhood, and a maximum of three games per week through late adolescence. The working group also recommends reducing game duration for tournaments or events during which multiple high-density competitions are scheduled (i.e., reduce the number of minutes per game). “Rest games,” where some players are rested while their teammates compete, together with larger roster sizes, will allow teams to participate without overloading individual playersC
Injury prevention programs Such programs have been shown to reduce lower extremity injury. However, further evaluation of basketball-specific programs is warrantedB
Sport readiness Individuals develop at different rates. Moreover, through adolescence in particular, physical, motor, cognitive, emotional, and social development may proceed asynchronously within one player. Carefully adjusting expectations and demands to the individual player’s development furthers a rewarding experience, progress in learning, motivation, and a healthy life balanceB

a Each recommendation in this table has been classified using the Strength of Recommendation Taxonomy system (SORT) defined in Table  1 [ 27 ]. Recommendations of strength B are based on inconsistent or limited-quality patient-oriented evidence and recommendations of strength C are based on expert opinion consensus

The following guidelines (Tables  3 , ​ ,4, 4 , ​ ,5) 5 ) are based upon the consensus recommendations of the NBA and USA Basketball working groups on Playing Standards and Health & Wellness. These guidelines draw on the available scientific evidence at this time, as well as the expert opinion of the working groups and current and former men’s and women’s players, coaches, and administrators from all levels of basketball. These recommendations may need to be updated as new research and information develops.

Table 3

Recommended participation guidelines

Age (years) or gradeGame length (min)No. of games per weekPractice length (min)No. of practices per week
Ages 7–820–28130–601
Ages 9–1124–321–245–752
Ages 12–1428–32260–902–4
Grades 9–1232–402–390–1203–4

Table 4

Maximum participation guidelines

Age (years) or gradeNo. of games per dayNo. of hours per week in organized basketball
Ages 7–813
Ages 9–112 5
Ages 12–142 10
Grades 9–122 14

a Organized basketball includes game competition and practice time and structured training in which an athlete works in a focused way to improve his or her game, typically with or at the direction of a coach. Unstructured peer-led on-court activities do not constitute organized basketball for the purpose of this table (e.g., pickup games, a player shooting baskets by themselves, a player working with a peer to practice a skill). Youth basketball camps can be a positive experience for young players. Camp program content and duration is variable and may exceed the practice guidelines above. Camp directors should, however, keep the above guidelines in mind, and seek to include activities other than on-court basketball as well as rest days. The research team also recommend additional rest days following camp attendance. Residential youth sport academies also exist, particularly outside the USA. Studies in Europe point to earlier specialization, enhanced specific practice intensity and increased risks of impaired well-being, health and academic performance in the sport-students [ 147 ]. Therefore, attention to these issues is warranted. As such, academy directors and coaches should recognize the risks of early specialization and benefits of diversified participation. Their sport curricula should involve activities other than basketball to a significant portion up to age 14 years or beyond, including both organized and non-organized settings

b Youth basketball players, parents, and coaches should demonstrate caution in scheduling or participating in more than one game per day, especially on consecutive days. If young athletes participate in an event or tournament in which more than one game is played per day on consecutive days, players should have additional time off from sports activities following the event to allow for recovery

c It is recommended that young athletes in these age ranges who are approaching the maximum recommended hour limits do not participate in another sport concurrently

Table 5

Rest guidelines

Age (years) or gradeMinimum no. of rest days per weekMaximum months per year in organized basketballRecommended hours of sleep per night [ ]
Ages 7–8249–12
Ages 9–11259–12
Ages 12–14178–10
Grades 9–1219–108–10

a For 12-year-olds, 9–12 h of sleep is recommended

Implementation and Future Directions

The NBA and USA Basketball are committed to driving positive change in youth basketball that promotes a healthy and positive experience for players. Efforts aimed at the grass roots level is essential for this to occur. To achieve this, these guidelines are now being implemented across their youth programming, and they have partnered with key organizations across youth basketball to similarly endorse and adopt the guidelines. Further, the NBA launched in October 2017 the Jr. NBA Flagship Network to provide a more consistent and positive youth basketball experience for players, parents, and coaches. Members of the network include 15 best-in-class organizations that share the Jr. NBA’s vision for how the game should be taught and played at the grassroots level [ 146 ]. They have committed to adhering to NBA and USA Basketball Youth Guidelines, including USA Basketball coach licensing requirements and providing resources to educate coaches and parents. Finally, the NBA and USA Basketball have begun to assess the extent of basketball participation among youth, the adoption of the basketball guidelines, and the response to this initiative in youth basketball.

No sources of funding were used to assist in the preparation of this article.

Conflict of interest

John DiFiori is the NBA Director of Sports Medicine. Brian Hainline is the Chief Medical Officer of the NCAA. Edward Ryan III is an athletic trainer for USA Basketball. Arne Güllich, Joel Brenner, Jean Côté, and Robert Malina declare that they have no conflicts of interest relevant to the content of this review.


Long-term analysis of elite basketball players’ game-related statistics throughout their careers.

\r\nJorge Lorenzo*

  • 1 Sport Science Department, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, Madrid, Spain
  • 2 Institute of Sport Science and Innovations, Lithuanian Sports University, Kaunas, Lithuania

The aim of the present study was to analyze the changes of game-related statistics in expert players across their whole sports careers. From an initial sample including 252 professional basketball players competing in Spanish first division basketball league (ACB) in the 2017–2018 season, 22 met the inclusion criteria. The following game-related statistics were studied: average points, assist, rebounds (all normalized by minute played), 3-point field goals percentage, 2-point field goals percentage, and free throws percentage per season. Each variable was individually investigated with a customized excel spreadsheet assessing individual variations and career trends were calculated. The results showed a positive trend in most of the investigated players in assists (91% of cases) and free throw percentages (73% of cases). Similar percentages of positive and negative trends were observed for all the other game-related statistics (range: 41–59% for negative and positive, respectively). In conclusion, an increase in assist and free throw performance was shown in the investigated players across their playing career. This information is essential for basketball coaches suggesting the use of most experienced players in the final moments of the game.


Basketball is a team sport characterized by the execution of series of skills in multiple situations occurring across the game. In particular, game-related statistics are fundamental and their level might depend on the players’ characteristics and training experience. Most of the game related statistics depends on multifactorial variables (i.e., offensive and defensive tactics) determining a complex dynamic system during games, which is difficult to control in its totality. The use of performance analysis in sport with the determination of the most important game related statistics during the game aims to improve the team performance, increasing the knowledge of the performance of each player. Specifically, game-related statistics are key tools for basketball coaches providing reliable information about teams’ performance such as those distinguishing between successful and unsuccessful teams. Previous investigations widely studied the game-related statistics mostly assessing team performance in order to determine the most valuable players and the importance of certain positions such as guards, forward and centers (e.g., Sampaio et al., 2006a ), to evaluate the impact of rule changes (e.g.; Gómez et al., 2006a ; Ibáñez et al., 2018 ), the effect of home advantage (e.g.; Carron et al., 2005 ; Pollard, 2008 ; Watkins, 2013 ), the importance of starters and bench players regarding their contribution to the game (e.g.; Sampaio et al., 2006b ), the scoring strategies differentiating between winning and losing teams in women’s basketball FIBA Eurobasket (e.g.; Conte and Lukonaitiene, 2018 ). It is important to note that in basketball several game related statistics have been used, while only some of them were deemed fundamental. Previous discriminant analyses quantitatively determined the team performance indicators (TPI), identified as a variable able to define the most important aspect of performance ( Hughes and Bartlett, 2002 ) and compare different leagues ( Sampaio and Leite, 2013 ), which most affect the game outcome ( Gomez et al., 2008 ; Ibánez et al., 2008 ). In particular, Yu et al. (2008) , established a list of the most influential TPI’s (Technical Performance Indices) such as points per game (PPG), field goals made (FGM), rebounds, assists, turnovers, blocks, fouls, and steals. Sampaio et al. (2013) included also free throws as an important technical performance indicator. The TPIs with the most impact on the outcome of a season in Spanish first division (ACB) teams were shooting percentage (both 2-point and 3-point percentage), assists and rebounds ( García et al., 2013 ; Gómez et al., 2008 ). However, to the best of our knowledge, no previous investigations assessed players’ individual game related statistics across a long period of time. Indeed, players’ experience might play a fundamental role in improving players’ game related statistics effectiveness. Therefore, studies addressing this topic are warranted.

The performance of a player across his career might play a fundamental role in distinguishing between elite and non-elite players. Indeed, acquiring playing experience, players could have a better performance due to the demand of basketball game to perform complex actions that require high anticipatory skills in difficult situations. Indeed, these high anticipatory skills can be translated into scoring and passing related variables concerning about game-related statistics ( Sampaio et al., 2015 ), and therefore they become an important variable deeming further analysis in basketball. In fact, elite players perceive better their environmental information and are capable of adapting their behavior accordingly and consequently perform better compared to other non-elite players ( Aglioti et al., 2008 ). Therefore, playing experience might be essential in increasing players’ anticipatory skills and consequently their game performance.

It has been previously showed that performance slowly decrease after reaching the peak period of the player career ( Baker et al., 2013 ). In basketball, Baker et al. (2013) , found that the typical basketball career lasts about 11 years, with the longest career studied being 23 years of playing at an elite level. However, it is not clear the performance changes across players career, and their trend (i.e., positive or negative) calling for further studies in this area. Therefore, the aim of this study was to descriptively analyze TPI changes throughout the career of expert basketball players, assessing the possible performance trend.

Materials and Methods


From an initial sample of 252 professional basketball players competing in ACB, 22 players (9 backcourt and 13 frontcourt) were selected for this study based on the following inclusion criteria determined by a group of experts, who were identified according to Swann et al. (2015) guidelines: (a) male players, currently playing in the ACB league in the season 2017–2018; (b) to have a minimum playing experience of 10 years (including only season in which they effectively played) in the first division of any country with at least an average of 25% of number of games and minutes played per season; (c) to possess a minimum of 5 years playing experience in first division of any league amongst the top 30 countries in the FIBA Ranking (at February 28, 2018); (d) to have played at least 75% of their professional careers in any country’s first division league, consequently no years played in lower division leagues were analyzed. The aim of these criteria was to ensure the highest quality of the sample for expert players with a solid number of games and minutes played each season ( Swann et al., 2015 ).

The databases used to obtain the game related statistics of each season for the studied players were the ACB official web page 1 for any season played in the ACB league, and the RealGM website 2 , or the official ACB guide released by the Spanish Basketball Association for any season played outside Spain. These databases are normally used in studies related with basketball, and basketball statistics and are considered valid and reliable ( Gómez et al., 2018 ).

The following game-related statistics for each season were recorded and analyzed: average points, assist, rebounds, 3-point field goals percentage, 2-point field goals percentage and free throws percentage per season. The variable point, assists and rebounds were normalized by minute played with the following formula (example for points scored: mean seasonal points scored/mean seasonal minute played ∗ 40 min). All the data for these game-related statistics, for every season and every player included in this study were storage in a database and once they were used for the statistical analysis.

Statistical Analysis

All statistical analyses were performed with a customized excel spreadsheet specifically developed to monitor individual changes and trends in a rigorous quantitative way ( Hopkins, 2017 ). Recently, this excel spreadsheet has been adopted to assess individual changes in team sports ( Siahkouhian and Khodadadi, 2013 ; Loturco et al., 2017 ; Colyer et al., 2018 ; Hurst et al., 2018 ) and specifically in basketball ( Pliauga et al., 2018 ). This statistics approach could be used as a possible alternative to previously used methodologies such as the ANOVA factor ( Yu et al., 2008 ) or the Jonckheere–Terpstra test ( Leite and Sampaio, 2012 ). The individual trends across playing career for each investigated player were then quantified and the percentage of players documenting a positive, negative or steady (when the result is zero) slope were calculated using the following formula y = m⋅x+n. Figures 1 – 6 are an example of the individual points and trendlines obtained via the Hopkins spreadsheet and that were later analyzed.


Figure 1. Individual trend of one participant for average points per season normalized by minute.


Figure 2. Individual trend of one participant for average rebounds per season normalized by minute.


Figure 3. Individual trend of one participant for average assists per season normalized by minute.


Figure 4. Individual trend of one participant for 3-point percentage per season.


Figure 5. Individual trend of one participant for 2-point percentage per season.


Figure 6. Individual trend of one participant for free throw percentage per season.

The mean slope for each performance indicator and the number of cases in which the slope was positive, steady, or negative are shown in Table 1 . Results revealed that most of the players have a positive trend in assists (91% of the cases) free throws (73% of the cases), and 3-point percentage although with a lower value (59%). Conversely, there were no differences of positive and negative trends reported for the other investigated parameters ( Table 1 ).


Table 1. Mean slope and number of cases of each variable.

The aim of this study was to analyze the trends TPIs throughout the career of expert basketball players. The results revealed that assists and free throws were the two TPIs mostly showing a positive trend during players’ careers. Specifically, the 91% of the studied players have a positive tendency in assists, with a mean slope of 0.15, and 73% of them have a positive tendency in free throws, with a mean slope of 0.95. Also, 59% of the players increase their 3-point percentage, but this result might have been influenced by the fact that more frontcourt than backcourt players met our inclusion criteria.

Basketball is a sport where situations change quickly and continuously as a result of the combination of factors such as the position of opponents in the field and their tactical behavior, the position of the ball and the timing of the offensive movements ( Altavilla and Raiola, 2014 ). Therefore, players are required to decide an appropriate response with a proper timing and executing it in a correct spacing. Often, players are subject to defensive pressure and the more skilled and experienced players might be able to anticipate events and perform unhurried actions as a result of their improved ability to “read the game” ( Sampaio et al., 2004 ). In this context, executing a successful pass (i.e., assist) assume a fundamental importance in basketball. Indeed, when analyzing the mechanism of this technical action, the assist requires a combination of good decision making in court, coordination, anticipation, timing, and a good execution ( Melnick, 2001 ; Gómez et al., 2006b ). Previous research demonstrated that assists and free throw percentage are two of the most factors to win a game ( Dias, 2007 ; Gómez and Lorenzo, 2007 ; Sampaio et al., 2015 ). Moreover, Sampaio et al. (2004) , suggested that assists are indicators of players’ maturity and experience, increasing in number as the player gets a better ability to read the game due to the years of playing experience. The results of our investigation highlighted supporting results, since most of the investigated players increased their assist performance across their playing career. This information seems essential for basketball coaches, who can rely on the performance of more experienced basketball players characterized by a better tactical awareness in order to execute successful passes and increase the scoring possibilities during the game. Indeed, Melnick (2001) showed a positive correlation between number of assists of a team and a better win-loss record through a season.

Free throws have also been demonstrated to be performance indicators differentiating between winning and losing teams in particular in close games ( Ibánez et al., 2008 ; Conte et al., 2018 ; Gómez et al., 2018 ). Therefore, it was expected that players increasing their experience and possibly assuming a leadership and fundamental role in their team would increase their free throw performance during their career. Accordingly, our results demonstrated an increased trend across players’ career for free throws and therefore possibly increasing their teams’ possibility to be successful. In this sense, experience accumulated in games and practices is the most crucial factor for developing expertise in one aspect ( Gómez et al., 2018 ). An increase in the percentages of free throws can be associated with the fact that players have already mastered the shooting during their years of training. Interestingly, a previous investigation showed that free throws shooting trajectories are more efficient and possess a lower variability in more experienced players compared to less experienced players ( Button et al., 2003 ). The practical application of our result is that coaches should favor the participation of most experienced players in last minutes of close games, when usually there are higher number of fouls generating free throws opportunities.

Other variables such as points, rebounds, and 2-point percentage did not show any trend increase across the players’ career. A possible reason for this finding is that these variables might be more influenced by physical factors (i.e., strength, power, and fitness), which showed a decrease during the lifespan ( Horton et al., 2008 ). Even though experienced players compensate this decrease in their physical abilities with a better understanding of the games’ tactical aspects, better timing and spacing and better decision-making abilities, it seems not enough to show a positive trend according to the results of our investigation.

Although this investigation provides basketball coaches with useful information, some limitations should be mentioned. Firstly, the results might have been influenced by some confounding factors such as injuries across the season, the playing status (i.e., starting vs. bench players), economical aspects such as players’ contracts and players and/or coaching staffs changing teams during investigated period. Therefore, future studies are warranted in order to overcome these limitations possibly controlling these factors. However, to the best of our knowledge, this investigation provides the first evidence about the individual trend in players’ performance across their playing career and notably increase the knowledge in this field. Moreover, further studies should be designed in order to assess players’ individual season-by-season changes across their playing career.

The results of this investigation suggest that as the players acquire years of experience in first division elite teams, their assists per game and free throw percentage increase. Conversely, other game-related statistics such as points, rebounds, 3-point percentage, and 2-point percentage showed both positive and negative trends in the investigated players resulting in a high between players variability. Finally, further research is required in this field using an individualized approach to increase the knowledge about players’ performance across their playing career.

Author Contributions

All authors listed have made a substantial, direct and intellectual contribution to the work, and approved it for publication.

Conflict of Interest Statement

The authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.

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Keywords : evolution, statistics, tendencies, career, team sports, professional

Citation: Lorenzo J, Lorenzo A, Conte D and Giménez M (2019) Long-Term Analysis of Elite Basketball Players’ Game-Related Statistics Throughout Their Careers. Front. Psychol. 10:421. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00421

Received: 30 November 2018; Accepted: 12 February 2019; Published: 27 February 2019.

Reviewed by:

Copyright © 2019 Lorenzo, Lorenzo, Conte and Giménez. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY) . The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

*Correspondence: Jorge Lorenzo, [email protected]

Disclaimer: All claims expressed in this article are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of their affiliated organizations, or those of the publisher, the editors and the reviewers. Any product that may be evaluated in this article or claim that may be made by its manufacturer is not guaranteed or endorsed by the publisher.

Michael Jordan: The Story of a Basketball Player Research Paper

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Childhood years, a step away from death, between basketball and baseball, beginning of the brightest career, chicago bulls.

Michael Jordan could have been a baseball player but chose basketball. With his help, Chicago Bulls won their first title which was later followed by a complete three-peat. Two years after his first retirement, Jordan returned to Chicago to help the team that had lost their leading positions. Michael won three more champion titles with Chicago Bulls and eventually departed the club. Jordan is the winner of many individual awards; his main achievement is the NBA Most Valuable Player Award, which he received five times. Only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was honored with this prize more times than Jordan. Michael’s athletic qualities can be proved not only by the trophies he won but also by the magnitude of advertising contracts, many of which were valid even after Jordan retired. In 2017, Forbes named Jordan as the highest-paid athlete in history. There were many obstacles in the way to his success. At the peak of his form, Jordan lost his father and left basketball. The life of Michael Jordan is a story of struggle followed by success. This paper will discuss the path of one of the best basketball players in history to glory.

Michael was born into a large family – he is the fourth of the five children in the family, and his parents are James and Deloris Jordan. Before the birth of Michael, James served in the US Armed Forces (Lazenby, 2014). Michael was a disobedient child as he liked to do the opposite of what he was told. Jordan always accepted the challenges and often faced trouble because of such a character (The Associated Press, 2015). For instance, when he was four years old, Michael argued with his cousin. The latter offered Jordan a bet – he would pay a dollar if Michael chopped off his toe (Hasday, 2013). Jordan did not want to seem like a coward and accepted the proposal. Although Michael did not lose his body part, he could not avoid physical damage.

In school years, another problem was discovered – Michael was not a hardworking child. Jordan did not want to work and eluded from household chores. One summer, Deloris got her son a job at a hotel, where he had to serve the rooms (James, 2017). The experience was negative – Michael was constantly late and decided never to look for a job again. Discipline problems led Jordan to a temporary expulsion from school (The Associated Press, 2015). Michael left the school without permission to visit a nearby store and was suspended from classes for several days (Lazenby, 2014). Michael became more responsible in high school, where he improved his discipline and academic performance.

At the age of two, Michael nearly died from an electric shock. He touched the junction of two extension cords lying on wet grass. The strike was intense, and the child was thrown back a couple of meters (James, 2017). At the age of seven or eight, Michael almost drowned. Together with his close friend, they swam in the ocean (Hasday, 2013). When the children were far from the shore, a breaking wave emerged (Hasday, 2013). It covered his friend and dragged him to the bottom. Michael managed to survive, but his friend, unfortunately, died (Hasday, 2013). For this reason, Michael was always afraid of water (Hasday, 2013). Later, he could become a water’s victim again – when he was 11 years old, he nearly drowned while trying to pass the mandatory swimming test at school (Hasday, 2013). Jordan did not know how to swim, but still went into the water and made his attempt.

Michael’s father loved baseball and wanted to introduce children to his favorite sport. When the children were old enough to be able to hold a bat in their hands, he began to bring them into the yard and throw a baseball (Lazenby, 2014). Boys from the Jordan family played in the children’s baseball league at the age of five or six. Michael looked well on a baseball court, and the coaches predicted a professional career. From the age of nine, Jordan became interested in basketball. His older brother, Larry, contributed significantly to Michael’s interest (Lazenby, 2014). Father placed a basketball hoop for Larry in the yard, and Michael and Larry played one on one. In high school, Michael finally switched from baseball to basketball (Lazenby, 2014). Michael’s baseball career at the time began to decline. Jordan began to spend more time on the basketball court. Michael realized that basketball is precisely the kind of sport he wanted to practice.

There were no tall people in the Jordan family, and Michael was no exception. Short stature substantially interfered with Jordan – when Michael was 15 years old, he was not accepted into the high school basketball team due to his height (The Associated Press, 2015). In the eleventh grade, the grown-up Michael was eventually taken to the basketball team (James, 2017). There he was noticed by an assistant coach of the Tar Heels team of the University of North Carolina. The specialist immediately appreciated the talent of the young player (James, 2017). During his time at the university, Michael grew even more (The Associated Press, 2015). When Jordan began to play in the NBA, his height was 198 cm.

In Jordan’s first game for the Tar Heels team at the University of North Carolina, his team beat Kansas with a score of 74:67, where Michael brought his team 12 points (Basketball Reference, 2020). Besides this first match, the whole season can be considered successful. Tar Heels reached the finals, where they beat Georgetown with a score of 63:62. Jordan’s toss into the final 15 seconds of the game brought the team victory in the game and the season (Basketball Reference, 2020).

Before Jordan came to Chicago Bulls in 1984, the team was without champion ambitions. With the arrival of Michael, the new owner and the new management came (The Associated Press, 2015). The idea was to build a new team around Jordan, and this plan was successful (The Associated Press, 2015). Michael quickly became the star of the Chicago Bulls. In the first season in the NBA, Michael averaged 28.2 points per game in the regular season and 29.2 in the playoffs (Basketball Reference, 2020). These were the best indicators in the team, and in 1985, Michael received the Rookie of the Year Award (The Associated Press, 2015). Jordan could be distinguished from the crowd of other basketball players by his trademark jump. He seemed to hang in the air for a few seconds and earned the nickname Air Jordan and His Airness (The Associated Press, 2015). Michael’s nickname was quickly monetized – in 1984, Jordan entered into an advertising contract with Nike.

Jordan won his first NBA title in 1991 and managed to win the league for three consecutive years – 1991, 1992, and 1993. After his father’s murder in 1994, however, Jordan decided to retire from basketball (The Associated Press, 2015). With Michael’s departure, Chicago Bulls could not achieve any success. In 1995, Jordan decided to return to basketball, but the season was almost over, so he could not make any significant contributions to Chicago Bulls’ performance (The Associated Press, 2015). A year later, however, Michael helped his team start their path to the second three-peat. Chicago Bulls became champions in 1996, 1997, and 1998, and Jordan’s participation in this three-year success is colossal (The Associated Press, 2015). He retired for the second time in 1999, and although he came back two years later to play for Washington Wizards, he could not manage to win another title. In 2003, Jordan ended his basketball career for the last time.

The story of Jordan is full of effort, determination, and success. Despite facing many obstacles in his life, Jordan managed to become one of the greatest basketball players of all time. In his youth, Michael was short and could not qualify for school basketball teams. Several times, Michael almost faced a tragic ending – in childhood, he nearly drowned twice. However, Jordan always persevered, and his persistence granted him and Chicago Bulls two three-peats. He is one of the best players in the history of both the Chicago Bulls and basketball in general.

Basketball Reference. (2020). Michael Jordan stats . Basketball Reference.

Hasday, J. (2013). Michael Jordan (Modern role models) . Mason Crest.

James, S. (2017). Michael Jordan: A unique insight into the career and mindset of Michael Jordan . CreateSpace.

Lazenby, R. (2014). Michael Jordan: The life . Little, Brown and Company.

The Associated Press. (2015). Michael Jordan: Beyond the court. Mango Media.

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105 Basketball Research Paper Topics You Need to Know

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Basketball is a popular sport with a rich history and a strong following worldwide. There are many interesting topics to write about that you could explore in a basketball research paper, whether you are a fan of the sport or want to learn more about it. Here are basketball research paper topics that you may want to consider:

Table of Contents

Best Basketball Research Paper topics

  • The development of female basketball and the challenges faced by female players
  • The history of high school basketball and its impact on young athletes
  • The evolution of college basketball and the role of NCAA rules and regulations
  • People who have contributed to the growth and success of basketball, including coaches, players, and administrators
  • The media’s influence on basketball and the way it is portrayed in popular culture
  • The positive and negative impacts of basketball on players and communities
  • The role of cross-gender coaching in the development of basketball players
  • The benefits of playing basketball, including physical, mental, and social benefits
  • The impact of sporting events like the Olympics and World Cup on the popularity of basketball
  • The history of professional basketball and the evolution of leagues like the NBA
  • The role of figures in the basketball world, including players, coaches, and administrators
  • The importance of defense and strategies for defending ball screens
  • The role of team dynamics in the success of a basketball team
  • The psychology of professional basketball players and how it affects their performance
  • The history of basketball and its evolution from a simple game to a global phenomenon
  • The social and cultural significance of basketball in different parts of the world
  • The impact of technology on basketball, including the use of video analysis and performance tracking
  • The role of nutrition and training in the development of basketball players
  • The influence of coaches on the success of a basketball team and the strategies they use
  • The role of statistics in analyzing and evaluating basketball players and teams

Simple Basketball Research Paper topics

  • The use of analytics in scouting and recruiting players for college and professional teams
  • The impact of injuries on the performance and careers of basketball players
  • The role of mental toughness and resilience in the success of basketball players
  • The impact of social media on the careers and public image of basketball players
  • The role of sponsorships and endorsements in the business of basketball
  • The importance of leadership and teamwork in the success of a basketball team
  • The impact of gender and cultural diversity on the success of a basketball team
  • The influence of coaches and trainers on the development of young basketball players
  • The role of psychology in helping basketball players overcome challenges and achieve success
  • The impact of coaching style and philosophy on the success of a basketball team
  • The role of psychology in helping basketball players cope with pressure and adversity
  • The impact of parental involvement on the development and success of young basketball players
  • The role of nutrition and training in the prevention of injuries in basketball
  • The impact of mental toughness and resilience on the performance of basketball players
  • The influence of social media on the public image and reputation of basketball players
  • The role of sponsorships and endorsements in the marketing and promotion of basketball
  • The importance of teamwork and communication in the success of a basketball team
  • The impact of gender and cultural diversity on the dynamics of a basketball team
  • The role of leadership in the success of a basketball team and the strategies used by coaches to develop leaders
  • The influence of coaching style and philosophy on the performance and success of a basketball team
  • The impact of parental involvement on the development and performance of young basketball players

Interesting Basketball Research Paper topics

  • The development of female basketball and the challenges faced by female players.
  • The role of high school basketball in the development of young players.
  • The differences between college basketball and professional basketball.
  • The people who have contributed to the growth and evolution of basketball, such as James Naismith, Wilt Chamberlain, and Michael Jordan.
  • The media’s influence on basketball, including the impact of televised games and social media.
  • The ways basketball can affect individuals and communities include physical health, mental health, and social connections.
  • The benefits of playing basketball include physical exercise, teamwork, and personal growth.
  • The history of basketball includes the game’s origin and evolution over time.
  • The role of national basketball leagues, such as the NBA and WNBA, in promoting the sport globally.
  • The art of defending ball screens and how it has evolved.
  • The negative impacts of basketball include the potential for injury and the impact on physical health.
  • The controversy is surrounding cross-gender coaching in basketball.
  • The importance of team dynamics in a successful basketball team.
  • The lives of professional basketball players, including their training regimes, personal lives, and the challenges they face.
  • The evolution of basketball equipment, including the development of shoes and other gear.
  • The role of statistics in basketball, including the use of advanced metrics and data analysis.
  • The impact of social media on basketball players and teams.
  • The influence of international players on the sport of basketball.
  • The role of sponsorships and endorsements in the world of professional basketball.
  • The importance of mental toughness in basketball and how it can be developed.

Basketball Research Paper Topics for High School

  • The role of coaches in the development of young players and the success of a team.
  • The impact of injuries on the careers of basketball players.
  • The role of team management and front office personnel in the success of a basketball team.
  • The importance of physical conditioning in basketball and the various training methods players use.
  • The impact of social media on the way basketball games are watched and followed by fans.
  • The history of basketball in the Olympics and the impact of international competition on the sport.
  • The role of analytics in the modern basketball game, including advanced statistics and data analysis.
  • The influence of social media on the recruitment and scouting process in basketball.
  • The internet and streaming services impact how fans watch and follow basketball games.
  • The role of agents and player representation in the world of professional basketball.
  • The impact of international leagues on the development of young players and the growth of the sport globally.
  • The role of fan culture and fan behavior in the world of basketball.
  • The history of basketball in the United States and its evolution over time.
  • The role of the media in shaping public perception of basketball players and teams.
  • The impact of social media on the way basketball players and teams are marketed and promoted.
  • The role of scouting and player development in the success of a basketball team.
  • The NCAA and its rules impact young players’ development and the sport’s future.
  • The history of the NBA and its evolution over time.
  • The role of sports science and technology in the development and training of basketball players.
  • The impact of social media on the way fans follow and interact with their favorite players and teams.

Basketball Research Paper Topics for College Students

  • The influence of coaching styles and strategies on the success of a basketball team.
  • The impact of international tournaments, such as the FIBA World Cup, on basketball’s global popularity and growth.
  • The role of fan engagement and social media in the marketing and promotion of basketball teams and players.
  • The impact of sponsorship deals and endorsements on the financial success of basketball teams and players.
  • The role of analytics and data analysis in the scouting and evaluation of players in basketball.
  • The impact of social media on the way basketball games are analyzed and covered by the media.
  • The influence of social media on the way the public perceives basketball players and teams.
  • The role of mental toughness and mental training in the success of basketball players and teams.
  • The impact of social media on the way basketball teams and players interact with their fans.
  • The role of analytics and data analysis in developing strategies and game plans in basketball.
  • The impact of social media on the way fans consume and follow basketball news and content.
  • The influence of social media on the way basketball players and teams engage with their fans and promote their brand.
  • The role of analytics and data analysis in evaluating basketball player performance and team success.
  • The impact of social media on how basketball players and teams communicate with each other and fans.
  • The role of analytics and data analysis in the scouting and recruitment of players in basketball.
  • The impact of social media on the way basketball players and teams market themselves and their brands.
  • The role of analytics and data analysis in developing advanced statistics and metrics in basketball.
  • The influence of social media on the way basketball players and teams share content and interact with their followers.
  • The role of analytics and data analysis in optimizing basketball player usage and game strategies.
  • The impact of social media on the way basketball players and teams engage with their fans and promote their brand.
  • The role of analytics and data analysis in analyzing and interpreting advanced statistics and metrics in basketball.
  • The influence of social media on the way basketball players and teams share their experiences and personalities with their fans.
  • The impact of social media on the way basketball players and teams connect with their fans and promote their brand.
  • The role of analytics and data analysis in the analysis and interpretation of advanced statistics and metrics

Final Thoughts

As you can see, there are countless topics to explore in a basketball research paper. From the development of female basketball to the impact of social media on the sport, these topics cover a wide range of subjects and offer plenty of opportunities for research and analysis. Whether you are interested in the history of the game, the technical aspects of play, or the basketball business, there is a topic here that will suit your interests and curiosity. So if you want to write a great basketball research paper, these topics should give you plenty of inspiration and ideas to get started.

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Basketball Research Papers Samples For Students

39 samples of this type

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Good Research Paper On Sports Are Sports And E-Sports Should Be Included


Background.3-4 Discussion4-10 Support of E-Sports as Sports.5-7 Opposition to E-Sports as Sports7-8 Responses to Objections.8-9 Conclusion10-11

Work Cited.12

Swelling and stiffness research paper examples, research paper on the summary of the six main properties of the forms, the aim and objectives 3: example research paper by an expert writer to follow, executive summary 2.

Introduction 3 Brand image of Lufthansa 6 Turkish Airlines brand image and reputation 18 Viral campaign from Miles and Smiles reward program 19 The viral advertisement campaign of KLM Airlines 22 Viral Christmas campaign of WestJet 24

References 26

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Being a basketball player, Harvey requires a diet that will help him to sustain his bodily functions and at the same time provide him with energy that he needs for his daily workout program. Adhering to a diet that takes into account all these factors will serve to ensure that he is able to increase his agility, endurance and stability for running. This plan will ensure that it keeps Harvey fueled through the next two days during which he will be working out.

Good Nike Iconic Brand Analysis Research Paper Example

Iconic brands are authentic which people can relate to. The Nike brand entertains a wide variety of customer segments of all ages.

The global customer base is the strength of Nike’s business, which is always expanding.

The consumers all around can relate to the iconic status of Nike, which is its foremost success. The unique selling proposition of Nike is to instill values that are difficult to imitate and at the same time transfer the brand meaning in a relevant manner. Key Words: Nike, icon, status, brand, marketing, customer


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The decisions that led to Michael Jordan becoming a Basketball player and Abraham Lincoln the great leader he is known as today are very unique to them, and certainly all the decisions that we make in our daily lives depend on reasons interlinked with our own personalities. Why we choose one alternative and let go of the other depends on what motivates us, motivation is the drive one feels to achieve a certain goal and this variety from person to person differentiates their personalities and the pathways that they choose to walk on.

Sports And Social Network Service Research Paper Examples

Sports has been used by humanity since time immemorial as a way of interacting, associating and understanding one another. There are as diverse kinds of sports as there are diverse people and cultures. Today, with the advent of social network services spearheaded by the worldwide web, sportspersons and their fans have found an avenue through to interact. In the long run, sportspersons have been able to communicate, advertise and reach out to their fans through the social network services because of the advanced technologies and the facilitation courtesy of the worldwide web.

History of Social Network Services, Statistics and figures of users

The problem of obesity research paper sample, sports apparel research paper examples, conference realignment research paper examples.

This paper is organized as follows: a review of the existing studies written on conference realignment is presented followed by my perspective on the current issue on conference realignment.


Electronic arts: the success of ea sports and the company research paper sample, electronic arts: the success of ea sports and the company, example of health assessment of a child research paper, section one: assessment of child’s health: raw data presentation.

The child’s name is Heidi; she is female, aged 10 years and 5 months. The assessment session was administered at the child’s home. She is 144cm tall, has a weight of 37.6kgs, and her BMI value is 17.3. The child’s temperature is 36.60C, her respiration rate was 16, and her pulse was 77bpm.

The questions asked during the Child’s Health Assessment: Health of Infants, Children and Young People.

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Striking Basketball Research Paper Topics

Basketball is today one of the most popular and widely viewed sports all over the world. Rising to fame in the middle of the 20th century, the game has evolved to becoming the marker of commercially successful sports business. The tremendous popularity of the game has made it highly favored in the academic niche, leading students to develop basketball research paper topics at both colleges and universities. Given the vast scope of the research available for this game has, choosing the subject of basketball for an academic paper is an obvious option for young scholars.

It sometimes gets hard to come up with the right topic connected with this sport, no matter how avid a fan of for basketball the writer is. The subject is encompassed by a huge miscellany of topics and paper ideas, and this is probably what puzzles writers the most. Hence, generating a mind-bending number of basketball research topics must be something that’s worth its weight in gold. We our paper writing service has created the ultimate list of topics for basketball academic papers just to take the burden off the hundreds of students stuck with their scholarly routine.

Our talented writers can help you come up with non-trivial marketing research topics that explore the modern approaches to launching businesses and advertising, education research topics that underline the importance of getting a college degree, and baseball research topics that discuss different aspects of modern sports.

Basketball research topics

  • The history of basketball.
  • The impact of basketball on the player’s physical health.
  • Unique approaches in creating training programs for basketball players.
  • Why do scientists and basketball coaches need to work together?
  • Sociological approach to the formation of basketball leaders.
  • Particular qualities of nutritional support for young players.
  • Risk factors for cardiovascular disease of various kinds of in basketball.
  • Why basketball culture should be promoted in developing nations.
  • The use of neuro-linguistic programming in increasing results in basketball.
  • Psychological and physiological aspects of doping in basketball.

Basketball essay topics

  • Why is bullying in basketball teams not stopped?
  • How to cope with an injury in a basketball game.
  • Should we cultivate the love for basketball in children?
  • Who is the best NBA basketball player of all time?
  • Healthy career, unhealthy retirement.
  • Basketball is too dangerous for players.
  • Why do college basketball players struggle with time management?
  • Elite sports players deserve their enormous income.
  • Performance enhancement through biotechnology has no place in sports.
  • The issues that take place in coaching and the methods of coaching.

Basketball speech ideas for persuasive speech

  • Should basketball players be regarded as role models for children?
  • Should basketball fans be somehow censored?
  • Not all great basketball players can become good coaches.
  • All forms of betting on basketball games should be prohibited.
  • College basketball players can be smart – don’t fall prey to stereotypes.
  • Students should receive money for playing basketball.
  • Even good basketball coaches can lose their self-control.
  • Instead of being prohibited, the use of steroids should be legalized and monetized.
  • Press conferences should be made mandatory for basketball players.
  • Sports is the best stress reliever and reducer of obesity.

Basketball speech ideas for informative speech

  • Why is it better to start playing basketball at an early age?
  • How do modern technologies impact basketball?
  • The impact of sports on the emotional well-being of a player.
  • Basketball and physiological reactions.
  • Basketball trainers and training strategies.
  • Basketball psychologists: why are they needed?
  • Basketball as a business.
  • Prejudices against basketball players.
  • Basketball as a political instrument.
  • Is professional basketball harmful to health?

Basketball thesis statement examples

Generating a topic for your basketball research paper or essay is challenging. You can find more sports research paper topics on our site if you need more general topic.

As we stressed before, considering the amounts of information on the subject that can have scientific application, a writer will likely spend more time on deciding on the topic than creating the paper itself. This all-around compilation of research topics on basketball will suit every student ready to demonstrate their sports savvy in their paper.

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How to Write an Abstract in Research Papers (with Examples)

How to write an abstract

An abstract in research papers is a keyword-rich summary usually not exceeding 200-350 words. It can be considered the “face” of research papers because it creates an initial impression on the readers. While searching databases (such as PubMed) for research papers, a title is usually the first selection criterion for readers. If the title matches their search criteria, then the readers read the abstract, which sets the tone of the paper. Titles and abstracts are often the only freely available parts of research papers on journal websites. The pdf versions of full articles need to be purchased. Journal reviewers are often provided with only the title and abstract before they agree to review the complete paper. [ 1]  

Abstracts in research papers provide readers with a quick insight into what the paper is about to help them decide whether they want to read it further or not. Abstracts are the main selling points of articles and therefore should be carefully drafted, accurately highlighting the important aspects. [ 2]  

This article will help you identify the important components and provide tips on how to write an abstract in research papers effectively

What is an Abstract?  

An abstract in research papers can be defined as a synopsis of the paper. It should be clear, direct, self-contained, specific, unbiased, and concise. These summaries are published along with the complete research paper and are also submitted to conferences for consideration for presentation.  

Abstracts are of four types and journals can follow any of these formats: [ 2]  

  • Structured  
  • Unstructured  
  • Descriptive  
  • Informative  

Structured abstracts are used by most journals because they are more organized and have clear sections, usually including introduction/background; objective; design, settings, and participants (or materials and methods); outcomes and measures; results; and conclusion. These headings may differ based on the journal or the type of paper. Clinical trial abstracts should include the essential items mentioned in the CONSORT (Consolidated Standards Of Reporting Trials) guidelines.  

example of research paper about basketball

Figure 1. Structured abstract example [3] 

Unstructured abstracts are common in social science, humanities, and physical science journals. They usually have one paragraph and no specific structure or subheadings. These abstracts are commonly used for research papers that don’t report original work and therefore have a more flexible and narrative style.  

example of research paper about basketball

Figure 2. Unstructured abstract example [3] 

Descriptive abstracts are short (75–150 words) and provide an outline with only the most important points of research papers. They are used for shorter articles such as case reports, reviews, and opinions where space is at a premium, and rarely for original investigations. These abstracts don’t present the results but mainly list the topics covered.  

Here’s a sample abstract . [ 4]  

“Design of a Radio-Based System for Distribution Automation”  

A new survey by the Maryland Public Utilities Commission suggests that utilities have not effectively explained to consumers the benefits of smart meters. The two-year study of 86,000 consumers concludes that the long-term benefits of smart meters will not be realized until consumers understand the benefits of shifting some of their power usage to off-peak hours in response to the data they receive from their meters. The study presents recommendations for utilities and municipal governments to improve customer understanding of how to use the smart meters effectively.  

Keywords: smart meters, distribution systems, load, customer attitudes, power consumption, utilities  

Informative abstracts (structured or unstructured) give a complete detailed summary, including the main results, of the research paper and may or may not have subsections.   

example of research paper about basketball

Figure 3. Informative abstract example [5] 

Purpose of Abstracts in Research    

Abstracts in research have two main purposes—selection and indexing. [ 6,7]  

  • Selection : Abstracts allow interested readers to quickly decide the relevance of a paper to gauge if they should read it completely.   
  • Indexing : Most academic journal databases accessed through libraries enable you to search abstracts, allowing for quick retrieval of relevant articles and avoiding unnecessary search results. Therefore, abstracts must necessarily include the keywords that researchers may use to search for articles.  

Thus, a well-written, keyword-rich abstract can p ique readers’ interest and curiosity and help them decide whether they want to read the complete paper. It can also direct readers to articles of potential clinical and research interest during an online search.  

example of research paper about basketball

Contents of Abstracts in Research  

Abstracts in research papers summarize the main points of an article and are broadly categorized into four or five sections. Here are some details on how to write an abstract .   

Introduction/Background and/or Objectives  

This section should provide the following information:  

  • What is already known about the subject?  
  • What is not known about the subject or what does the study aim to investigate?  

The hypothesis or research question and objectives should be mentioned here. The Background sets the context for the rest of the paper and its length should be short so that the word count could be saved for the Results or other information directly pertaining to the study. The objective should be written in present or past simple tense.  


The antidepressant efficacy of desvenlafaxine (DV) has been established in 8-week, randomized controlled trials. The present study examined the continued efficacy of DV across 6 months of maintenance treatment . [ 1]  

Objective: To describe gastric and breast cancer risk estimates for individuals with CDH1 variants.  

Design, Setting, and Participants (or Materials and Methods)  

This section should provide information on the processes used and should be written in past simple tense because the process is already completed.  

A few important questions to be answered include:  

  • What was the research design and setting?  
  • What was the sample size and how were the participants sampled?  
  • What treatments did the participants receive?  
  • What were the data collection and data analysis dates?  
  • What was the primary outcome measure?  

Hazard ratios (HRs) were estimated for each cancer type and used to calculate cumulative risks and risks per decade of life up to age 80 years.  

example of research paper about basketball

This section, written in either present or past simple tense, should be the longest and should describe the main findings of the study. Here’s an example of how descriptive the sentences should be:  

Avoid: Response rates differed significantly between diabetic and nondiabetic patients.  

Better: The response rate was higher in nondiabetic than in diabetic patients (49% vs 30%, respectively; P<0.01).  

This section should include the following information:  

  • Total number of patients (included, excluded [exclusion criteria])  
  • Primary and secondary outcomes, expressed in words, and supported by numerical data  
  • Data on adverse outcomes  

Example: [ 8]  

In total, 10.9% of students were reported to have favorable study skills. The minimum score was found for preparation for examination domain. Also, a significantly positive correlation was observed between students’ study skills and their Grade Point Average (GPA) of previous term (P=0.001, r=0.269) and satisfaction with study skills (P=0.001, r=0.493).  


Here, authors should mention the importance of their findings and also the practical and theoretical implications, which would benefit readers referring to this paper for their own research. Present simple tense should be used here.  

Examples: [ 1,8]  

The 9.3% prevalence of bipolar spectrum disorders in students at an arts university is substantially higher than general population estimates. These findings strengthen the oft-expressed hypothesis linking creativity with affective psychopathology.  

The findings indicated that students’ study skills need to be improved. Given the significant relationship between study skills and GPA, as an index of academic achievement, and satisfaction, it is necessary to promote the students’ study skills. These skills are suggested to be reinforced, with more emphasis on weaker domains.  

example of research paper about basketball

When to Write an Abstract  

In addition to knowing how to write an abstract , you should also know when to write an abstract . It’s best to write abstracts once the paper is completed because this would make it easier for authors to extract relevant parts from every section.  

Abstracts are usually required for: [ 7]    

  • submitting articles to journals  
  • applying for research grants   
  • writing book proposals  
  • completing and submitting dissertations  
  • submitting proposals for conference papers  

Mostly, the author of the entire work writes the abstract (the first author, in works with multiple authors). However, there are professional abstracting services that hire writers to draft abstracts of other people’s work.   

How to Write an Abstract (Step-by-Step Process)  

Here are some key steps on how to write an abstract in research papers: [ 9]  

  • Write the abstract after you’ve finished writing your paper.  
  • Select the major objectives/hypotheses and conclusions from your Introduction and Conclusion sections.  
  • Select key sentences from your Methods section.  
  • Identify the major results from the Results section.  
  • Paraphrase or re-write the sentences selected in steps 2, 3, and 4 in your own words into one or two paragraphs in the following sequence: Introduction/Objective, Methods, Results, and Conclusions. The headings may differ among journals, but the content remains the same.  
  • Ensure that this draft does not contain: a.   new information that is not present in the paper b.   undefined abbreviations c.   a discussion of previous literature or reference citations d.   unnecessary details about the methods used  
  • Remove all extra information and connect your sentences to ensure that the information flows well, preferably in the following order: purpose; basic study design, methodology and techniques used; major findings; summary of your interpretations, conclusions, and implications. Use section headings for structured abstracts.  
  • Ensure consistency between the information presented in the abstract and the paper.  
  • Check to see if the final abstract meets the guidelines of the target journal (word limit, type of abstract, recommended subheadings, etc.) and if all the required information has been included.  

Choosing Keywords for Abstracts  

Keywords [ 2] are the important and repeatedly used words and phrases in research papers and can help indexers and search engines find papers relevant to your requirements. Easy retrieval would help in reaching a wider audience and eventually gain more citations. In the fields of medicine and health, keywords should preferably be chosen from the Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) list of the US National Library of Medicine because they are used for indexing. These keywords need to be different from the words in the main title (automatically used for indexing) but can be variants of the terms/phrases used in the title, abstract, and the main text. Keywords should represent the content of your manuscript and be specific to your subject area.  

Basic tips for authors [ 10,11]  

  • Read through your paper and highlight key terms or phrases that are most relevant and frequently used in your field, to ensure familiarity.  
  • Several journals provide instructions about the length (eg, 3 words in a keyword) and maximum number of keywords allowed and other related rules. Create a list of keywords based on these instructions and include specific phrases containing 2 to 4 words. A longer string of words would yield generic results irrelevant to your field.  
  • Use abbreviations, acronyms, and initializations if these would be more familiar.  
  • Search with your keywords to ensure the results fit with your article and assess how helpful they would be to readers.  
  • Narrow down your keywords to about five to ten, to ensure accuracy.  
  • Finalize your list based on the maximum number allowed.  

  Few examples: [ 12]  

Direct observation of nonlinear optics in an isolated carbon nanotube  molecule, optics, lasers, energy lifetime  single-molecule interaction, Kerr effect, carbon nanotube, energy level 
Region-specific neuronal degeneration after okadaic acid administration  neuron, brain, regional-specific neuronal degeneration, signaling  neurodegenerative diseases; CA1 region, hippocampal; okadaic acid; neurotoxins; MAP kinase signaling system; cell death 
Increases in levels of sediment transport at former glacial-interglacial transitions  climate change, erosion, plant effects  quaternary climate change, soil erosion, bioturbation 

Important Tips for Writing an Abstract  

Here are a few tips on how to write an abstract to ensure that your abstract is complete, concise, and accurate. [ 1,2]  

  • Write the abstract last.  
  • Follow journal-specific formatting guidelines or Instructions to Authors strictly to ensure acceptance for publication.  
  • Proofread the final draft meticulously to avoid grammatical or typographical errors.  
  • Ensure that the terms or data mentioned in the abstract are consistent with the main text.  
  • Include appropriate keywords at the end.

Do not include:  

  • New information  
  • Text citations to references  
  • Citations to tables and figures  
  • Generic statements  
  • Abbreviations unless necessary, like a trial or study name  

example of research paper about basketball

Key Takeaways    

Here’s a quick snapshot of all the important aspects of how to write an abstract . [2]

  • An abstract in research is a summary of the paper and describes only the main aspects. Typically, abstracts are about 200-350 words long.  
  • Abstracts are of four types—structured, unstructured, descriptive, and informative.  
  • Abstracts should be simple, clear, concise, independent, and unbiased (present both favorable and adverse outcomes).  
  • They should adhere to the prescribed journal format, including word limits, section headings, number of keywords, fonts used, etc.  
  • The terminology should be consistent with the main text.   
  • Although the section heading names may differ for journals, every abstract should include a background and objective, analysis methods, primary results, and conclusions.  
  • Nonstandard abbreviations, references, and URLs shouldn’t be included.  
  • Only relevant and specific keywords should be used to ensure focused searches and higher citation frequency.  
  • Abstracts should be written last after completing the main paper.  

Frequently Asked Questions   

Q1. Do all journals have different guidelines for abstracts?  

A1. Yes, all journals have their own specific guidelines for writing abstracts; a few examples are given in the following table. [ 6,13,14,15]  

American Psychological Association           
American Society for Microbiology     
The Lancet     
Journal of the American Medical Association               

Q2. What are the common mistakes to avoid when writing an abstract?  

A2. Listed below are a few mistakes that authors may make inadvertently while writing abstracts.  

  • Copying sentences from the paper verbatim  

An abstract is a summary, which should be created by paraphrasing your own work or writing in your own words. Extracting sentences from every section and combining them into one paragraph cannot be considered summarizing.  

  • Not adhering to the formatting guidelines  

Journals have special instructions for writing abstracts, such as word limits and section headings. These should be followed strictly to avoid rejections.  

  • Not including the right amount of details in every section  

Both too little and too much information could discourage readers. For instance, if the Background has very little information, the readers may not get sufficient context to appreciate your research. Similarly, incomplete information in the Methods and a text-heavy Results section without supporting numerical data may affect the credibility of your research.  

  • Including citations, standard abbreviations, and detailed measurements  

Typically, abstracts shouldn’t include these elements—citations, URLs, and abbreviations. Only nonstandard abbreviations are allowed or those that would be more familiar to readers than the expansions.  

  • Including new information  

Abstracts should strictly include only the same information mentioned in the main text. Any new information should first be added to the text and then to the abstract only if necessary or if permitted by the word limit.  

  • Not including keywords  

Keywords are essential for indexing and searching and should be included to increase the frequency of retrieval and citation.  

Q3. What is the difference between abstracts in research papers and conference abstracts? [16]  

A3. The table summarizes the main differences between research and conference abstracts.  

Context  Concise summary of ongoing or completed research presented at conferences  Summary of full research paper published in a journal 
Length  Shorter (150-250 words)   Longer (150-350 words) 
Audience  Diverse conference attendees (both experts & people with general interest)  People or other researchers specifically interested in the subject 
Focus  Intended to quickly attract interest; provides just enough information to highlight the significance, objectives, and impact; may briefly state methods and results  Deeper insight into the study; more detailed sections on methodology, results, and broader implications 
Publication venue  Not published independently but included in conference schedules, booklets, etc.  Published with the full research paper in academic journals, conference proceedings, research databases, etc. 
Citations  Allowed  Not allowed 

  Thus, abstracts are essential “trailers” that can market your research to a wide audience. The better and more complete the abstract the more are the chances of your paper being read and cited. By following our checklist and ensuring that all key elements are included, you can create a well-structured abstract that summarizes your paper accurately.  


  • Andrade C. How to write a good abstract for a scientific paper or conference presentation. Indian J Psychiatry . 2011; 53(2):172-175. Accessed June 14, 2024. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3136027/  
  • Tullu MS. Writing the title and abstract for a research paper: Being concise, precise, and meticulous is the key. 2019; 13(Suppl 1): S12-S17. Accessed June 14, 2024. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6398294/  
  • Zawia J. Writing an Academic Paper? Get to know Abstracts vs. Structured Abstracts. Medium. Published October 16, 2023. Accessed June 16, 2024. https://medium.com/@jamala.zawia/writing-an-academic-paper-get-to-know-abstracts-vs-structured-abstracts-11ed86888367  
  • Markel M and Selber S. Technical Communication, 12 th edition. 2018; pp. 482. Bedford/St Martin’s.  
  • Abstracts. Arkansas State University. Accessed June 17, 2024. https://www.astate.edu/a/global-initiatives/online/a-state-online-services/online-writing-center/resources/How%20to%20Write%20an%20Abstract1.pdf  
  • AMA Manual of Style. 11 th edition. Oxford University Press.  
  • Writing an Abstract. The University of Melbourne. Accessed June 16, 2024. https://services.unimelb.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0007/471274/Writing_an_Abstract_Update_051112.pdf  
  • 10 Good Abstract Examples that will Kickstart Your Brain. Kibin Essay Writing Blog. Published April 5, 2017. Accessed June 17, 2024. https://www.kibin.com/essay-writing-blog/10-good-abstract-examples/  
  • A 10-step guide to make your research paper abstract more effective. Editage Insights. Published October 16, 2013. Accessed June 17, 2024. https://www.editage.com/insights/a-10-step-guide-to-make-your-research-paper-abstract-more-effective  
  • Using keywords to write your title and abstract. Taylor & Francis Author Services. Accessed June 15, 2024. https://authorservices.taylorandfrancis.com/publishing-your-research/writing-your-paper/using-keywords-to-write-title-and-abstract/  
  • How to choose and use keywords in research papers. Paperpal by Editage blog. Published March 10, 2023. Accessed June 17, 2024. https://paperpal.com/blog/researcher-resources/phd-pointers/how-to-choose-and-use-keywords-in-research-papers  
  • Title, abstract and keywords. Springer. Accessed June 16, 2024. https://www.springer.com/it/authors-editors/authorandreviewertutorials/writing-a-journal-manuscript/title-abstract-and-keywords/10285522  
  • Abstract and keywords guide. APA Style, 7 th edition. Accessed June 18, 2024. https://apastyle.apa.org/instructional-aids/abstract-keywords-guide.pdf  
  • Abstract guidelines. American Society for Microbiology. Accessed June 18, 2024. https://asm.org/events/asm-microbe/present/abstract-guidelines  
  • Guidelines for conference abstracts. The Lancet. Accessed June 16, 2024. https://www.thelancet.com/pb/assets/raw/Lancet/pdfs/Abstract_Guidelines_2013.pdf  
  • Is a conference abstract the same as a paper abstract? Global Conference Alliance, Inc. Accessed June 18, 2024. https://globalconference.ca/is-a-conference-abstract-the-same-as-a-paper-abstract/  

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Get accurate academic translations, rewriting support, grammar checks, vocabulary suggestions, and generative AI assistance that delivers human precision at machine speed. Try for free or upgrade to Paperpal Prime starting at US$19 a month to access premium features, including consistency, plagiarism, and 30+ submission readiness checks to help you succeed.  

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New research on how to identify investments that produce delayed but real profits — not just those that produce short-term accounting profits.

In a well-functioning capital market, profits should be the sole criterion for firm survival; that is, firms reporting losses should disappear. Of late, however, loss-making firms are highly sought after by investors — often more than some profitable firms. Unicorns, or startups with valuations exceeding a billion dollars, are examples of such loss-making firms. What has changed over time? When and why did losses lose their meaning? The authors’ series of new research papers provide some answers, guiding managers to make the right investments: those that produce delayed but real profits — not just those that produce short-term accounting profits but decimate shareholder wealth in long run.

In 1979, psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky famously posited that losses loom larger than gains in human decision-making. For example, a dollar of loss affects our behavior more than a dollar of profits . Likewise, when a firm announces losses, its stock price declines more dramatically than it increases for the same dollar amount of profits. Investors abandon and lenders tend to stop financing loss-making firms , which then start restructuring their business lines and laying off employees. Some firms go even further, conducting M&A transactions without substance and “managing earnings” to report profits instead of a loss.

  • Vijay Govindarajan is the Coxe Distinguished Professor at Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business, an executive fellow at Harvard Business School, and faculty partner at the Silicon Valley incubator Mach 49. He is a New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling author. His latest book is Fusion Strategy: How Real-Time Data and AI Will Power the Industrial Future . His Harvard Business Review articles “ Engineering Reverse Innovations ” and “ Stop the Innovation Wars ” won McKinsey Awards for best article published in HBR. His HBR articles “ How GE Is Disrupting Itself ” and “ The CEO’s Role in Business Model Reinvention ” are HBR all-time top-50 bestsellers. Follow him on LinkedIn . vgovindarajan
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  • Anup Srivastava holds Canada Research Chair in Accounting, Decision Making, and Capital Markets and is a full professor at Haskayne School of Business, University of Calgary. In a series of HBR articles, he examines the management implications of digital disruption. He specializes in the valuation and financial reporting challenges of digital companies. Follow Anup on  LinkedIn .
  • Aneel Iqbal is an assistant professor at Thunderbird School of Global Management, Arizona State University. He examines the accounting measurement and financial disclosures for new-economy firms and incorporates his wide-ranging industry experience into his research and teaching. He is a seasoned accounting and finance professional with diverse experience in auditing, financial analysis, business advisory, performance management, and executive training. Follow Aneel on LinkedIn .
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Delving deep —

The telltale words that could identify generative ai text, new paper counts "excess words" that started appearing more often in the post-llm era..

Kyle Orland - Jul 1, 2024 11:30 am UTC

If your right hand starts typing

Further Reading

To measure these vocabulary changes, the researchers analyzed 14 million paper abstracts published on PubMed between 2010 and 2024, tracking the relative frequency of each word as it appeared across each year. They then compared the expected frequency of those words (based on the pre-2023 trendline) to the actual frequency of those words in abstracts from 2023 and 2024, when LLMs were in widespread use.

The results found a number of words that were extremely uncommon in these scientific abstracts before 2023 that suddenly surged in popularity after LLMs were introduced. The word "delves," for instance, shows up in 25 times as many 2024 papers as the pre-LLM trend would expect; words like "showcasing" and "underscores" increased in usage by nine times as well. Other previously common words became notably more common in post-LLM abstracts: the frequency of "potential" increased 4.1 percentage points; "findings" by 2.7 percentage points; and "crucial" by 2.6 percentage points, for instance.

Some examples of words that saw their use increase (or decrease) substantially after LLMs were introduced (bottom three words shown for comparison).

These kinds of changes in word use could happen independently of LLM usage, of course—the natural evolution of language means words sometimes go in and out of style. However, the researchers found that, in the pre-LLM era, such massive and sudden year-over-year increases were only seen for words related to major world health events: "ebola" in 2015; "zika" in 2017; and words like "coronavirus," "lockdown" and "pandemic" in the 2020 to 2022 period.

In the post-LLM period, though, the researchers found hundreds of words with sudden, pronounced increases in scientific usage that had no common link to world events. In fact, while the excess words during the COVID pandemic were overwhelmingly nouns, the researchers found that the words with a post-LLM frequency bump were overwhelmingly "style words" like verbs, adjectives, and adverbs (a small sampling: "across, additionally, comprehensive, crucial, enhancing, exhibited, insights, notably, particularly, within").

This isn't a completely new finding—the increased prevalence of "delve" in scientific papers has been widely noted in the recent past , for instance. But previous studies generally relied on comparisons with "ground truth" human writing samples or lists of pre-defined LLM markers obtained from outside the study. Here, the pre-2023 set of abstracts acts as its own effective control group to show how vocabulary choice has changed overall in the post-LLM era.

An intricate interplay

By highlighting hundreds of so-called "marker words" that became significantly more common in the post-LLM era, the telltale signs of LLM use can sometimes be easy to pick out. Take this example abstract line called out by the researchers, with the marker words highlighted: "A comprehensive grasp of the intricate interplay between [...] and [...] is pivotal for effective therapeutic strategies."

After doing some statistical measures of marker word appearance across individual papers, the researchers estimate that at least 10 percent of the post-2022 papers in the PubMed corpus were written with at least some LLM assistance. The number could be even higher, the researchers say, because their set could be missing LLM-assisted abstracts that don't include any of the marker words they identified.

Before 2023, it took a major world event like the coronavirus pandemic to see large jumps in word usage like this.

Those measured percentages can vary a lot across different subsets of papers, too. The researchers found that papers authored in countries like China, South Korea, and Taiwan showed LLM marker words 15 percent of the time, suggesting "LLMs might... help non-natives with editing English texts, which could justify their extensive use." On the other hand, the researchers offer that native English speakers "may [just] be better at noticing and actively removing unnatural style words from LLM outputs," thus hiding their LLM usage from this kind of analysis.

Detecting LLM use is important, the researchers note, because "LLMs are infamous for making up references, providing inaccurate summaries, and making false claims that sound authoritative and convincing." But as knowledge of LLMs' telltale marker words starts to spread, human editors may get better at taking those words out of generated text before it's shared with the world.

Who knows, maybe future large language models will do this kind of frequency analysis themselves, lowering the weight of marker words to better mask their outputs as human-like. Before long, we may need to call in some Blade Runners to pick out the generative AI text hiding in our midst.

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