Choking in sports, or simply choking under any kind of pressure, is something that will plague over 55% of amateur athletes worldwide, and just over 30% of professional competitors in their desired sport. In the article, “Evidence of Choking Under Pressure on the PGA Tour,” authors Brett Wells and John Skowronski take a look at how pressure builds going from the first round through to the final fourth round of any PGA Tour event. Professional play “Gary Player” said, “When the body fails or is weary, and that shot into a howling gale seems impossible, it is the mind that enables a player to pull it off.”
Is falling under the pressure an actual thing, or do we just look at it as an illusion to the mind and that our subconscious mind and blank it out. Sportswriters and fans make statements about choking and clutch performances all the time, and players certainly express belief in such phenomena; however, authors Wells and Skowronski have ultimately come to the conclusion that the labels Choke and Clutch are a bit controversial. The authors take a look at how round by round scores alter when a competitor is pushing to make the cut, or if the player is leading after the third round of play. Choking in a PGA event was found more in the final round players who have that chance to take a victory. A win on the PGA Tour entails a hefty pay check, exemptions to play in major championships, and a degree of job security (basically saying that by winning, a player is way less likely to lose his tour card and be able to compete on tour). Failure to win yields a substantially smaller pay check and typically provides none of the other direct benefits.
Wells and Skowronski have compared third and fourth round scores from 1983-2010 and determining the total choke score. For example, in the year 2000, the average third round score was 70.95 and fourth round scores were 71.02, which lead to a choking score of 0.07. In the year 2010, ten years after the initial recording of scores for this example, scores in the third round were 70.44 and the fourth round was 71.10, a choking score of 0.66. Wells and Skonwronski go on to say that because times change, prizes are greater, and status on tour is much bigger, players tend to fall more under the pressure of doing well.
Wells and Skowronski’s analyses only focused exclusively of players scores, rather than taking into effect other metrics of performance. There are of course many aspects to the game of golf that start from the tee in driving, iron play, short game and of course being able to play well on the putting surface. All these could differ the scores, however like before, the research focused on scores alone.
In the article, “Choking vs. Clutch Performance” author Denise Hill states, “ Choking in sport is considered to be a sub-optimal performance under stressful conditions.” Throughout the article, Hill shows recent research that has indicated that choking should be a term used to convey an acute performance. Evidence was found that a deterioration of performance under pressure was a consequence of attentional disturbances caused by heightened anxiety.
Hill had recommended interventions that may alleviate choking and, importantly, generated characteristics that can be used to identify a choker. Such findings could offer an extended understanding of choking in sport and provide a framework for future ecologically valid research. One procedure was presented by Hill where all participants took part in a focus