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The Effect of EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) on Athletic Performance: A Randomized Controlled Blind Trial

Using EFT to Improve Athletic Basketball Free Throw Performance

Citation: Church, D. (2009). The Effect of EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) on Athletic Performance: A Randomized Controlled Blind Trial. The Open Sports Sciences Journal, 2, 94-99. Click here to read Abstract andFull Paper:


The present study investigates the effect of a psychophysiological intervention, Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT), on athletic performance. It evaluates whether a single EFT treatment can produce an improvement in high performance men’s and women’s PAC-10 college basketball team members (n = 26). The treatment group received a 15 minute EFT session while a performance-matched attention control group received a placebo intervention of similar duration. Performance was measured on free throws and vertical jump height. The time frame of data collection and treatment simulated an actual basketball game. A statistically significant difference between the two groups was found for free throws (p<.03). On post-test, players who received the EFT intervention improved an average of 20.8%, while the attention control group decreased an average of 16.6%. There was no difference between treatment groups in jump height. When performance was analyzed separately by gender, trends toward significance were found for the women’s team on both performance measures with better results for the EFT intervention group. This indicates that EFT performed as an intervention during the course of an athletic event may improve free throw performance.

Editor’s Note

In this RCT blinded study, EFT was performed to look at its effect on two aspects of basketball-playing that might be affected by stress; percentage of free throws made and the height at which the participant was able to jump.  Interestingly enough, free throw percentage has been studied extensively as a measurement of a variety of interventions, including CBT, to see if it may be altered by the administered potential stress-relieving technique. In this study, a group of 26 men and women of an elite PAC 10 university basketball program were chosen. After warm up, the groups were randomized and one group received 15 minutes of EFT (one 10 minute session and then a soon follow up 5 minutes session) and the other group received 15 minutes of inspirational basketball tips and techniques were offered. A wide variety of measures were put in place as controls, including hydration, continued warm up and others.

Analysis of the results reveal that the athletes treated with EFT improved their free throw performance by an average of 20.8%, while the control group decreased by an average of 16.6%. No significant results were shown with regards to jump height. An important question to consider is what results might be seen with more than a 15 minute EFT intervention, which in and of itself is a very limited application that even so, showed a statistical difference in free throw percentage.