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Indexed under : Psychology / General

Wikenigma - an Encyclopedia of Unknowns Wikenigma - an Encyclopedia of the Unknown

'Choking' (sports etc)

The 'Choke' phenomenon is a ubiquitous syndrome which affects sports participants - and is also commonly seen in non-sports scenarios.

In a typical 'choke' scenario, when a player is presented with the opportunity for an exceptionally big 'win', he/she suddenly loses concentration and misses the opportunity at the last moment. It affects professionals and amateurs alike,

There is currently no agreed-upon explanation for the syndrome.

There are at least six different theories attempting to explain the neural/psychological factors which might lead to 'choke' :

  • Explicit monitoring theory
  • Distraction theory
  • Self-focus theory
  • Processing efficiency theory
  • Attentional control theory
  • Attentional threshold theory

All detailed at Wikipedia

Note : It's recently been shown that humans are not the only animal to suffer from 'choke'. Lab-based experiments have demonstrated that monkeys can also be affected. See: A neural basis of choking under pressure BiorXiv. Apr. 2023. The authors present a theory that “a 'collapse in neural information' occurs when a Jackpot is proffered, and this corresponds to a decrease in performance.”


Also see : Yipsplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigYips

'The yips’ is a psycho-neuro-muscular impediment affecting sportspersons, musicians, public performers and speakers etc etc. Symptoms include jerks, tremors, staggers and freezing, and may cause performance problems. The condition can occur suddenly and without ap…


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