Monday, January 10, 2011

Why We "Choke" Under Pressure - And How to Avoid It

We've all been to a match, shooting that stage we really needed, when all of a sudden we get a case of the yips and choke. Perhaps everything starts off right when that little voice inside your head chimes in and things just take a turn for the worse... Why does this happen? Why do some people seem immune to this type of pressure?

Dr. Sian Beilock, director of the Human Performance Laboratory at the University of Chicago, has been investigating these questions and has come up with some convincing causes and how to work through them or around them in her book, Choke. Written in a manner which "regular Joe's" can understand, it is a breeze to read and really get the gist of.

What I find most interesting is that this book is very different from Lanny Bassham's book on performance... Where Bassham is more interested in the results and how to attain them using a fairly formulaic "method", Beilock has researched the underlying causes of poor performance or underperforming - which, I should add is how she defines Choking - and "discovered" that people fall into certain categories. Further, she explains strategies that each of those categories can use to hone their "mental game". If the Bassham method isn't doing it for you, perhaps this is a viable alternative...

Don't expect a shooting-based book though... While it is mentioned, Choke focuses on all types of competition, be it cerebral board-room maneuvering, singular action-based games like Golf, and direct competition sports like tennis.

Lastly, if you're somewhere near the Chicago-land area, you could attend one of her upcoming talks through the University of Chicago Booth School of Business:

Monday, January 17th, 2011 6PM-9PM at the Chicago Gleacher Center (just off of downtown! Nice place!)

Tuesday, January 18th, 2011 6:30PM-8:45PM at the NIU Naperville Campus.