Tag Archives: Choking

Basketball And The BAM Project

via Axon Sports

Imagine an NCAA basketball coach trying to create a game plan for their first March Madness game with absolutely no video footage of their upcoming opponent.  Sure, he has their roster with player names, height/weight and positions.  He also has a set of specific stats that show the performance of each player and the team during the season.  Yet, there is no opportunity to see the team play as a unit, how they move the ball, or their communication.  The resulting game strategy would be full of educated guesses and assumptions based on just the macro picture of the roster and the micro world of data and statistics. Welcome to the …

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New Research Could Help Alex Rodriguez’s Batting Slump

via Axon Sports

At this point in the MLB postseason, Alex Rodriguez, the Yankees’ third baseman, is willing to try any remedy for his postseason hitting slump.  So far in October, his batting average is a paltry .130, well below his season average of .272.  Baseball writers and fans have tagged him with the dreaded “choker” label and his manager, Joe Girardi, has already benched him once.  A-Rod’s confidence seems to be in a downward spiral with all of the added pressure and attention on him.  However, a German sport psychologist could be coming to his rescue with new research on how to distract the brain away from focusing too much on specific athletic …

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Can Home Court Advantage Turn Into Home Court Choke?

via Axon Sports

Ask any NBA player or coach where they would prefer to play a high stakes game, home or away, and the vast majority will choose being in the friendly confines of their home arena.  Overall, the win-loss records of most teams would support that, but they would do even better if they taught their home fans a lesson in performance psychology.   When it comes to sports skills, research has shown that we’re better off to just do it rather than consciously thinking about the mechanics of each sub-component of the move.  Waiting for a pitch, standing over a putt or stepping up to the free throw line gives our brains …

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Don’t Think Too Much On The Golf Course

via Axon Sports

If ever there was a sport destined to send its players to the sport psychologist’s couch, it has to be golf. Just ask Tiger Woods about how mental attitude, swing changes and self-doubt can affect performance on the course. One recommendation from cognitive science researchers: stop thinking and just play. The psychological term for this concept is automaticity, or the ability to carry out sport skills without consciously thinking about them.

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The science behind choking

via Axon Sports

Free throw shooting in basketball offers one of the best opportunities to look at the effects of pressure on athletic performance.  Most NBA players can stand around in an empty gym and knock down free throw after free throw.  It’s one of those skills that has been so refined by deliberate practice that it’s basically performed on autopilot.  But it’s a different story to put that same player in a pressure-packed situation, in front of a crowd, with the game on the line.  In research conducted by Art Markman at the University of Texas, it appears that NBA players are more likely to choke in critical, late-game situations: The  highest pressure …

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What causes the yips?

via Axon Sports

At the wrap-up of the British Open, it seems a good time to examine one of the more interesting problems at the intersection of psychology, biomechanics and neuroscience: the yips. The yips are a general term for the erosion of a common, and previously easy skill. The most prominent examples typically come from golf, when we see a great player lose the ability to drain two and three foot putts, while the rest of his game remains completely intact. For a long time, it was assumed that the yips were a purely psychological phenomenon, linked to a loss of confidence, over-thinking and anxiety. This explanation matches up with a lot of …

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Rory McIlroy and the quiet brain

via Axon Sports

File this under the category of when life confirms research. Some great quotes about how Rory McIlroy prepared for the US Open, and how his approach toward putting differed from his meltdown at the Masters. Via puttingyips.com: McIlroy stated that he worked with Dave Stockton on his approach to putting and that helped him improve. They didn’t work on changing his stroke, but instead his green reading and putting routine, which means the mental game of putting. “The work that I’ve done with Dave Stockton has been more about how to approach a putt, not focusing on technique so much, more like green reading, your routine, and everything like that,” said …

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The psychology and neuroscience of choking (cont.)

via Axon Sports

As a follow up to last week’s post on the science of choking under pressure, here are two more articles that highlight Sian Beilock’s and other research on the subject. The first is a short blog post by David Dobbs, which describes Beilock’s lab at the University of Chicago and some of the subtle tricks they play to inspire people to buckle under pressure: They know how to turn even success against you. When I left my second putt within two inches of the target — the best putt of the day so far — Chase said, “He can’t do that twice.” Then Beilock commented that “ That’s an unusual grip …

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