The Consequences of Choking in Sport: A Constructive or Destructive Experience?

in The Sport Psychologist
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Through an empirical phenomenological methodology, the study examined the short- and long-term consequences of choking in sport. Eleven intermediate golfers (10 male, 1 female; age 23–50 years, M = 34.6, SD = 8.9) with handicaps of 6–18 (M = 10.91, SD = 3.98) completed phenomenological interviews that explored the perceived psychological impact of their choking episode(s). While the reported short-term consequences were negative (i.e., collapse in performance standards, limited attention/emotional control, and negative affect), most participants thought the long-term impact of choking was constructive, for it encouraged adversity-related growth. However, a small number of golfers identified the long-term consequences as highly destructive, including a loss of self-confidence, withdrawal from the sport, and, in 1 case, lowered self-worth. The findings of the study extend the choking literature by informing strategies that can be used to encourage constructive, rather than destructive, consequences from any choking episode that athletes may experience.

Hill is with Swansea University, Swansea, Wales. Cheesbrough and Gorczynski are with the University of Portsmouth, Portsmouth, England. Matthews is with Cardiff Metropolitan University, Cardiff, Wales.

Hill (Denise.Hill@Swansea.ac.uk) is corresponding author.
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