A Pre-Performance Routine to Alleviate Choking in “Choking-Susceptible” Athletes

in The Sport Psychologist

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Christopher MesagnoVictoria University

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Daryl MarchantVictoria University

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Tony MorrisVictoria University

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“Choking under pressure” is a maladaptive response to performance pressure whereby choking models have been identified, yet, theory-matched interventions have not empirically tested. Thus, the purpose of this study was to investigate whether a preperformance routine (PPR) could reduce choking effects, based on the distraction model of choking. Three “choking-susceptible”, experienced participants were purposively sampled, from 88 participants, to complete ten-pin bowling deliveries in a single-case A1-B1-A2-B2 design (A phases = “low-pressure”; B phases = “high-pressure”), with an interview following the single-case design. Participants experienced “choking” in the B1 phase, which the interviews indicated was partially due to an increase in self-awareness (S-A). During the B2 phase, improved accuracy occurred when using the personalized PPR and, qualitatively, positive psychological outcomes included reduced S-A and decreased conscious processing. Using the personalized PPR produced adaptive and relevant, task-focused attention.

Mesagno, Marchant, and Morris are with the School of Movement, Recreation, and Performance, Centre for Aging, Rehabilitation, and Exercise Science, Victoria University, Melbourne, Victoria 8001 Australia.

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