Learning Lab

Choking under pressure

By Amy Brann

For anyone who has coached a client through any physical achievements the topic of choking under pressure normally comes up. In golf almost 50% of serious players are said to have experienced motor skill failures…known as the dreaded ‘yips’.

Although the research around this isn’t conclusive, there are things that can be done to help players avoid this phenomenon. Overthinking is a big enemy and best avoided. Psychologist Debbie Crews found an increase in left hemisphere activity in the brain (associated with analytical thinking) and a reduction in right hemisphere activity (associated with coordination and visual ability) when golfers performed poorly. Crews suggests that a balanced brain is ideal. Other studies highlight a correlation between trying to consciously control automated skills and poorer execution of those skills.

The application of this research is quite widespread. Helping your clients ‘turn off’ their conscious mind is a great skill for them to develop.

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