Does Stephen Curry shoot better when he chews his mouthguard?

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Does Stephen Curry shoot better when he chews his mouthguard?

Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors mesmerizes his fans with his shooting prowess. But one wonders what is the mystery behind the back-to-back MVP’s mouthguard acrobatics while making his free throws?

During open play the mouthguard remains set at its place. But during free throws, Curry starts chewing it, dangling it and twisting it around. Is chewing his mouthguard a hobby or habit which motivates the Golden State Warriors’ All-Star?

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Or is it just a superstition like the Detroit Tigers’ manager Jim Leyland who refused to change his underwear during a 12-game winning streak? For a Warriors’ fan, it has become a normal scene.

Here is a report which throws light on Curry’s habit.

Statistically it’s clear that Curry is chewing his mouthguard more this season compared to the last season. 423 of the MVP’s free throws were recorded for sample study. Last year he made 63.5% of his free throws with the mouthguard outside his mouth, according to The Wall Street Journal. This year the percentage has drastically increased to 84.7% shows the habit has become worse in course of time.

Curry hasn’t taken a single free throw in the first two games of this NBA Finals. But according to this audit in the past two regular season and playoffs the Warriors guard attempted 529 mouthguard-less free throws. He made 90.8 % of those and shot 89.5 % with his mouthguard at place.

Last season also he shot 92.5% while chewing his mouthguard and 89.4 % without repeating his habit. An inference could be drawn from the audit that Curry is a better free throw shooter while chewing his mouthguard.

According to the authors of this study, “we hypothesize that the proposed performance benefits of superstition are produced by heightened levels of self-efficacy.”

Photo Courtesy: Noah Salzman/Wikimedia