Choking Under Pressure

We have all heard the term choking under pressure before. In the sports arena we talk about the bricks in basketball when the game-winning free throw is missed. In academic domains, we refer to cracking in important test taking situations. But what exactly do these terms mean and why do less-than-optimal performances occur—especially when incentives for optimal performance are maximal?


The desire to perform as well as possible in situations with a high degree of personally felt importance is thought to create performance pressure. However, despite the fact that performance pressure often results from aspirations to function at one's best, pressurepacked situations are where suboptimal skill execution may be most visible. The term choking under pressure has been used to describe this phenomenon. Choking is defined ...

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