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Choking - Squeeze Your Way Out Of It!
Gary Nisbet of squashskills


Different people respond to perceived pressure in different ways, but sportspeople in particular are frequently prone to experiencing unwelcome negative mind-sets and large resultant drops in performance, when the anxiety of a match or competitive situation that they find themselves in suddenly overwhelms them and causes them to succumb to the 'choke'.

There is a wide array of sports psychology literature focusing on the topic of choking, but what if there was a simple exercise you could do to help negate its effects?

An interesting paper from 2012 that I came across recently, offers a novel approach to solving the ‘choking’ dilemma. The study, published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, has suggested that right handed athletes who squeezed a ball in their left hand before competing, were less likely to choke under pressure than right handed athletes who squeezed a ball in their right hand (interestingly, the effect isn’t believed to exist in left-handed players due to reasons relating to relationships between different parts of the brain being less clear-cut in lefties).

Read the full article 'Preventing Motor Skill Failure Through Hemisphere-Specific Priming: Cases From Choking Under Pressure 

Derek Thorpe says "Before the match find a simple distracting exercise, or think of something that helps you focus; often a thought process or ritual. During the match, focus simply on hitting the next ball. If you are distracted, focus on only one aspect for example, watching your opponent, hitting the ball to length. Find what works for you and repeat when you need to".