Why We Choke Under Pressure & How to Stop

Why We Choke Under Pressure & How to Stop

– Individuals & teams can choke
– happens to athletes, actors, musicians, kids at school
– it can also occur in everyday situations
– choking: poor performance despite having the skills to perform
Types of choking:
1) being distracted by our own worry
– such choking happens when we have to think our way through a task
– in this task you rely on your working memory
– thoughts of failure “eat up” working memory, interrupting our thinking & leaving less cognitive capacity for the actual performance task at hand
2) over-thinking things
– such choking occurs in situations requiring “muscle memory” or procedural memory
– “explicit monitoring” screws things up which usually comes “automatically” – e.g. Driving
– movement is switched from unconscious to conscious & therefore hindered performance

Note: social performance choking involves both being distracted & over-thinking

4 Tips to prevent choking:
1) if you are a novice at something, take your time | if you are an expert, get it done quickly & trust in your experience
2) focus outward on the goal, not inward on the mechanics &/or worry
– this is called task-focused attention
3) practice not just the task, but the worry/anxiety
– get used to being observed by others or yourself by video
4) distract yourself, but only if you can rely on muscle memory/procedural memory
– this is called optimal Inattention [do not use where you rely on working memory]

Source: #marktaylorpsychology | Savvy Psychologist podcast | 1 June 2017


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