Why Athletes Choke Under Pressure

It's 'paralysis by analysis,' says researcher
By Nx Doyle,  Newser User
Posted Sep 21, 2010 5:41 PM CDT
Promoted on Newser Sep 22, 2010 12:20 PM CDT
Greg Norman might be prone to 'paralysis by analysis.'   (AP)

(User Submitted) – We've all seen it happen: a great sports star with a seemingly unassailable lead falls apart at the last minute, earning forever the least desirable moniker in sports: choker. The phenomenon is usually ascribed to "nerves," but a University of Chicago psychologist believes there's more to it. Researcher Sian Beilock says athletes who choke are subject to what UPI describes as an "information logjam" in the brain at a critical moment.

"Choking is suboptimal performance, not just poor performance," Beilock says. "It's a performance that is inferior to what you can do and have done in the past and occurs when you feel pressure to get everything right." He calls the problem "paralysis by analysis," which is essentially overthinking what you're doing, for fear of failing.

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