The hot hand exists in volleyball and is used for allocation decisions

J Exp Psychol Appl. 2012 Mar;18(1):81-94. doi: 10.1037/a0025951. Epub 2011 Oct 17.


The "hot hand" belief in sports refers to the conviction that a player has a higher chance of making a shot after two or three successful shots than after two or three misses (resulting in "streaks"). This belief is usually considered a cognitive fallacy, although it has been conjectured that in basketball the defense will attack a "hot" player and prevent streaks from occurring. To address this argument, we provide the first study on the hot hand in volleyball, where the net limits direct defensive counterstrategies, meaning that streaks can more likely emerge if a player is hot. We first establish that athletes believe in the hot hand in volleyball (Study 1A). Analyzing the top 26 first-division players, we then show that streaks do exist for half of the players (Study 1B). Coaches can detect players' performance variability and use it to make strategic decisions (Study 2A). Playmakers are also sensitive to streaks and rely on them when deciding to whom to allocate the ball (Study 2B). We conclude that for volleyball the hot hand exists, coaches and playmakers are able to detect it, and playmakers tend to use it "adaptively," which results in more hits for a team.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adult
  • Decision Making*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Volleyball / psychology*