Alleviation of Choking Under Pressure in Elite Golf: An Action Research Study

in The Sport Psychologist

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Denise M. HillUniversity of Gloucestershire

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Sheldon HantonUniversity of Wales Institute

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Nic MatthewsUniversity of Gloucestershire

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Scott FlemingUniversity of Wales Institute

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The study examined the effect of an evidence-based intervention on choking in golf. It is informed by the work of Hill, Hanton, Matthews and Fleming (2010a) that explored the experiences of elite golfers who either choked or excelled under pressure. The perceptions of elite golf coaches who worked with both ‘chokers’ and those who excelled, were also considered. It revealed that choking may be alleviated through the use of process goals, cognitive restructuring, imagery, simulated training and a pre/postshot routine. The present study incorporated each strategy into an intervention that was introduced to two professional golfers (aged 22) who choked under pressure regularly. Through an action research framework the impact of the intervention was evaluated over a ten month period via qualitative methods. The results indicated the intervention alleviated the participants’ choking episodes and so provides information that can be of use to practitioners working with golfers who choke.

Hill and Matthews are with the Faculty of Applied Sciences, University of Gloucestershire, Gloucester, UK. Fleming and Hanton are with the Cardiff School of Sport, University of Wales Institute, Cardiff, Cardiff, UK.

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