Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Why do some athletes choke under pressure?

Date:
October 26, 2011
Source:
Association for Psychological Science
Summary:
Athletes know they should just do their thing on the 18th hole, or during the penalty shootout, or when they're taking a three-point shot in the last moments of the game. But when that shot could mean winning or losing, it's easy to choke. A new article looks at why paying too much attention to what you're doing can ruin performance.

Athletes know they should just do their thing on the 18th hole, or during the penalty shootout, or when they're taking a 3-point shot in the last moments of the game. But when that shot could mean winning or losing, it's easy to choke. A new article published in Current Directions in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, looks at why paying too much attention to what you're doing can ruin performance.

"We think when you're under pressure, that your attention goes inward naturally. Suddenly it means so much, you want to make sure everything's working properly," says Rob Gray, of the University of Birmingham, the author of the new article. And that is exactly when things go wrong. Something about paying attention to what you're doing makes it not work right.

Of course, athletes know that they should just relax and do their usual thing, but it's not very helpful to tell someone to just relax. The goal for psychological scientists, Gray says, is to figure out what actually happens when someone starts paying too much attention to their body. "Focusing on what you're doing makes you mess up, but why? How do your movements change? How can we focus on correcting those issues instead of telling you to stop trying so hard?"

Gray has found that baseball players that are under pressure have fewer hits because their swing varies more under pressure than at normal times. Other researchers have found that climbers move less fluidly when they're higher up on a wall than when they're near the ground, which suggests that their joints move less freely when they're more anxious.

The research shows that there are particular things that go wrong when someone is under pressure -- changing the angle of the club head when putting or throwing with more force. If those things can be identified, a coach could work on the particular problems.

One way to do it might be with analogies, Gray says. For example, a golfer who grips the club too tight when she's nervous might benefit from an instruction like "imagine you have an open tube of toothpaste between your hands and the contents must not be pushed out." This would both address the problem and get her attention away from how well she's doing.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Association for Psychological Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. R. Gray. Links Between Attention, Performance Pressure, and Movement in Skilled Motor Action. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 2011; 20 (5): 301 DOI: 10.1177/0963721411416572

Cite This Page:

Association for Psychological Science. "Why do some athletes choke under pressure?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 October 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111021151611.htm>.
Association for Psychological Science. (2011, October 26). Why do some athletes choke under pressure?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111021151611.htm
Association for Psychological Science. "Why do some athletes choke under pressure?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111021151611.htm (accessed August 23, 2014).

Share This




More Science & Society News

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Endangered Red Wolves Face Uncertain Future

Endangered Red Wolves Face Uncertain Future

AP (Aug. 22, 2014) A federal judge temporarily banned coyote hunting to save endangered red wolves, but local hunters say that the wolf preservation program does more harm than good. Meanwhile federal officials are reviewing its wolf program in North Carolina. (Aug. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Bank of America's $17 Bln Settlement

Bank of America's $17 Bln Settlement

Reuters - Business Video Online (Aug. 21, 2014) Bank of America's settlement is by far the largest amount paid by big banks facing mortgage securities probes. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Former TSA X-Ray Scanners Easily Tricked To Miss Weapons

Former TSA X-Ray Scanners Easily Tricked To Miss Weapons

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) Researchers found the scanners could be duped simply by placing a weapon off to the side of the body or encasing it under a plastic shield. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Cadavers, a Teen, and a Medical School Dream

Cadavers, a Teen, and a Medical School Dream

AP (Aug. 21, 2014) Contains graphic content. He's only 17. But Johntrell Bowles has wanted to be a doctor from a young age, despite the odds against him. He was recently the youngest participant in a cadaver program at the Indiana University NW medical school. (Aug. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins