Coping Under Pressure: Employing Emotion Regulation Strategies to Enhance Performance Under Pressure

in Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology
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  • 1 Utrecht University
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Performing under high pressure is an emotional experience. Hence, the use of emotion regulation strategies may prove to be highly effective in preventing choking under pressure. Using a golf putting task, we investigated the role of arousal on declined sport performance under pressure (pilot study) and the effectiveness of emotion regulation strategies in alleviating choking under pressure (main study). The pilot study showed that pressure resulted in decreased performance and this effect was partially mediated by increased arousal. The main study, a field study, showed that whereas the choking effect was observed in the control condition, reappraisal and, particularly, distraction were effective emotion regulation strategies in helping people to cope instead of choke under pressure. These findings suggest that interventions that aim to prevent choking under pressure could benefit from including emotion regulation strategies.

Yannick A. Balk, Marieke A. Adriaanse, Denise T.D. de Ridder, and Catharine Evers are with the Department of Clinical and Health Psychology, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands.