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View Full Version : Do very highly skilled people ever "choke" under? The answer is... no



Roger E. Moore
2018-Dec-14, 07:45 PM
See it for yourself.


https://arxiv.org/abs/1809.07659

Very Highly Skilled Individuals Do Not Choke Under Pressure: Evidence from Professional Darts

Christian Deutscher, Marius Ötting, Roland Langrock, Sebastian Gehrmann, Sandra Schneemann, Hendrik Scholten (Submitted on 20 Sep 2018)

Understanding and predicting how individuals perform in high-pressure situations is of importance in designing and managing workplaces, but also in other areas of society such as disaster management or professional sports. For simple effort tasks, an increase in the pressure experienced by an individual, e.g. due to incentive schemes in a workplace, will increase the effort put into the task and hence in most cases also the performance. For the more complex and usually harder to capture case of skill tasks, there exists a substantial body of literature that fairly consistently reports a choking phenomenon under pressure. However, we argue that many of the corresponding studies have crucial limitations, such as neglected interaction effects or insufficient numbers of observations to allow within-individual analysis. Here, we investigate performance under pressure in professional darts as a near-ideal setting with no direct interaction between players and a high number of observations per subject. We analyze almost one year of tournament data covering 23,192 dart throws, hence a data set that is very much larger than those used in most previous studies. Contrary to what would be expected given the evidence in favor of a choking phenomenon, we find strong evidence for an overall improved performance under pressure, for nearly all 83 players in the sample. These results could have important consequences for our understanding of how highly skilled individuals deal with high-pressure situations.

grant hutchison
2018-Dec-14, 08:01 PM
I think the point here is actually that everyone chokes under pressure, but highly skilled individuals do not experience pressure in situations that do pressurize the less skilled.
My own small experience of this involves dealing with very sick people undergoing emergency surgery. I often found that I was rather enjoying myself (apparently I used to whistle "Ode to Joy" under my breath). But I'd occasionally notice that less experienced people around me were suffering a real drop in performance - and part of the trick of dealing with these situations well was to give people little useful projects they could concentrate on, rather than leaving them exposed to the Big Picture. You go and make up the inotrope infusions; you deal with charting the fluid balance, and so on.

Grant Hutchison

Roger E. Moore
2018-Dec-14, 09:13 PM
I think the point here is actually that everyone chokes under pressure, but highly skilled individuals do not experience pressure in situations that do pressurize the less skilled.
My own small experience of this involves dealing with very sick people undergoing emergency surgery. I often found that I was rather enjoying myself (apparently I used to whistle "Ode to Joy" under my breath). But I'd occasionally notice that less experienced people around me were suffering a real drop in performance - and part of the trick of dealing with these situations well was to give people little useful projects they could concentrate on, rather than leaving them exposed to the Big Picture. You go and make up the inotrope infusions; you deal with charting the fluid balance, and so on.

Your story appears to prove the paper was correct. :)

George
2018-Dec-14, 09:23 PM
I think the point here is actually that everyone chokes under pressure, but highly skilled individuals do not experience pressure in situations that do pressurize the less skilled.
My own small experience of this involves dealing with very sick people undergoing emergency surgery. I often found that I was rather enjoying myself (apparently I used to whistle "Ode to Joy" under my breath). But I'd occasionally notice that less experienced people around me were suffering a real drop in performance - and part of the trick of dealing with these situations well was to give people little useful projects they could concentrate on, rather than leaving them exposed to the Big Picture. You go and make up the inotrope infusions; you deal with charting the fluid balance, and so on. Well, obviously from the OP, you should have had them switch to acupuncture wherever useful. ;)

I would bet confidence correlates (inversely) well with choking. Was not a greater choking likelihood prominent in your first serious surgery?

The dart data set is not surprising but there is a difference in circumstance here where confidence is not the main issue to avoid choking, IMO. Most people perform well what they already know how to do when it is a competitive sporting event. I have always performed better when playing against people better than me, including darts, and partly because the added pressure was my choice knowing that I would be motivated to play better.

publiusr
2018-Dec-14, 10:34 PM
Then too--there is Greg Norman at Amen corner...or this:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1dR1pkCGY80

Poor Leon Lett....

grant hutchison
2018-Dec-14, 10:43 PM
Your story appears to prove the paper was correct. :)Well, no. Quite the opposite. I'm actually illustrating a flaw in the paper's conclusions, using my own experience as an example.
The authors start by defining pressure as a mental state:
Pressure results from individuals’ ambitions to perform in an optimal way in situations where high-level performance is in demandBut that's not what they measure - they simply record situations in which they imagine a darts player would feel under pressure. They offer no evidence that these players were actually experiencing [their definition of] pressure at all. What they measured is not what the claim to have measured.

My own experience of performing in potentially pressurizing situations for which I had expert levels of performance is that I felt absolutely no "ambitions to perform in an optimal way" - I just got on with a job that I knew very well how to do, and gained some enjoyment from doing that. Whereas the non-expert trainees assisting me had very strong ambitions to perform, for various reasons, and they experienced a deterioration in their performance compared to how I'd seen them work in less acute situations. Assigning them a single, useful but simple task allowed them to lose those ambitions to perform and let them just perform.

Grant Hutchison

grant hutchison
2018-Dec-14, 10:46 PM
I would bet confidence correlates (inversely) well with choking. Was not a greater choking likelihood prominent in your first serious surgery? That's my point. The authors define pressure as arising from an "ambition to perform". Once you're just performing, their definition of pressure is absent - and they have no measure of whether their definition of pressure is present or absent in the darts player dataset.

Grant Hutchison

Noclevername
2018-Dec-15, 02:37 AM
IOW if you do choke, then by their measure you are not a True Scotsman, oops I mean not highly skilled.

grapes
2018-Dec-15, 03:31 AM
Did the study take into account the consumption of alcohol, then?

Noclevername
2018-Dec-15, 03:47 AM
Did the study take into account the consumption of alcohol, then?

I attempted to master that skill. It did not go well.

grant hutchison
2018-Dec-15, 12:28 PM
IOW if you do choke, then by their measure you are not a True Scotsman, oops I mean not highly skilled.Well, you may be highly skilled, but you've fallen out of Csíkszentmihalyi's "flow state" (a characteristic of expert performance), so you suddenly start to experience their definition of "pressure", and that interferes with your ability to deliver a highly skilled performance, or to regain the flow state.

Grant Hutchison

profloater
2018-Dec-15, 01:22 PM
this flow state is partly muscle memory (a brain function) and partly experience. You hear the expression "the training kicked in" when pressure is applied. It has been observed that a highly skilled performance such as a professional golf swing can be upset by asking the person to explain what they are doing, that disturbs the flow state, while competitive pressure does not. Teaching or coaching a skill like that is quite different from doing it. It is experienced in driving a car, an experienced driver will do the right thing under stress without having to stop and think it through. The training kicks in. In brain wave examination of this flow state it can be found both in meditation and, for example, skilled surfing (the sea wave type), which has been studied using radio link EEG.

SkepticJ
2018-Dec-15, 08:04 PM
How stressful can playing darts really be? Who gets hurt or dies if one messes up? Anyone who drives to work is in a situation with orders of magnitude more gravitas than throwing a little finned, pointy thing at a felt circle.

profloater
2018-Dec-15, 08:18 PM
How stressful can playing darts really be? Who gets hurt or dies if one messes up? Anyone who drives to work is in a situation with orders of magnitude more gravitas than throwing a little finned, pointy thing at a felt circle.
It can be just a pub game but once tv took it up, there is both money and fame . And having played once or twice, if you are set up win for your team with a particular double, that can count as pressure.:doh:

grant hutchison
2018-Dec-15, 08:36 PM
How stressful can playing darts really be?The paper isn't about life-or-death stress, it's about pressure, defined as: "ambitions to perform in an optimal way in situations where high-level performance is in demand".

If you're performing a psychomotor task that requires precision, and you experience an intrusive "ambition to perform", your ability can deteriorate below what you're capable of delivering. It's a commonly acknowledged problem for athletes and games players, but also for things as mundane as job interviews and a viva exams, or just walking across a narrow bridge with no handrails.

Grant Hutchison

Trebuchet
2018-Dec-16, 12:14 AM
I haven't read the paper, but it seems to me that people who are highly skilled at something might indeed choke when under pressure for a different situation. Your surgeon might thrive under pressure in the operating theater but slam on the brakes when encountering unexpected ice in a car.

grant hutchison
2018-Dec-16, 12:57 AM
I haven't read the paper, but it seems to me that people who are highly skilled at something might indeed choke when under pressure for a different situation. Your surgeon might thrive under pressure in the operating theater but slam on the brakes when encountering unexpected ice in a car.Yeah, expert performance is contextual, you acquire it by practising specific tasks. You can only get into that flow state for those tasks. Gladwell's "10,000 hours of practice" has been largely discredited, but there is certainly a time-consuming process involved which means that no-one (except, apparently, Robert Heinlein) can be skilled at everything.

Grant Hutchison

Trebuchet
2018-Dec-16, 01:25 AM
The problem with expertise, of course, is that you keep getting better and better about less and less; until you're practically perfect about practically nothing.

grant hutchison
2018-Dec-16, 02:02 AM
The problem with expertise, of course, is that you keep getting better and better about less and less; until you're practically perfect about practically nothing.:)
There's a difference between expertise and expert performance, though. The old joke about knowing more and more about less and less applies to knowledge acquisition - knowing stuff. Expert performance applies to psychomotor tasks - doing stuff. We used to say that, if you were really sick in hospital, you needed an anaesthetist to come immediately and do stuff to keep you alive; the following morning it was time for a physician (in the US = internal medicine specialist) to come and think of stuff to make you better.

Grant Hutchison

Solfe
2018-Dec-16, 03:25 AM
:)
There's a difference between expertise and expert performance, though. The old joke about knowing more and more about less and less applies to knowledge acquisition - knowing stuff. Expert performance applies to psychomotor tasks - doing stuff. We used to say that, if you were really sick in hospital, you needed an anaesthetist to come immediately and do stuff to keep you alive; the following morning it was time for a physician (in the US = internal medicine specialist) to come and think of stuff to make you better.

Grant Hutchison

I love medical personnel that discount their skills. I used to do this procedure where they injected me with the wrong blood type to get antibodies while people looked on in case there was a problem. They had a crash cart and explained the whole process of what they could do to me, including the disastrous "Are you an organ donor?" part. Hum... I knew that they were poking me with a needle and monitoring me, but from my perspective it was sort of like a Space Shuttle launch. "Wow! This is crazy!!!"

And everything was so profession, so focused on detail and well rehearsed, I am pretty sure they were completely bored.

DonM435
2018-Dec-16, 05:17 PM
I'm generally amazed that pro (and college) basketball players can sink two or three free throws in the final seconds with the game on the line, and everybody screaming and shouting.

However, some "experts" say that hitting a baseball is the toughest thing of all, and indeed the best hitters only succeed (in getting a hit) 30% of the time.

Jens
2018-Dec-17, 07:50 AM
I think the point here is actually that everyone chokes under pressure, but highly skilled individuals do not experience pressure in situations that do pressurize the less skilled.


I think that is the point. What I find odd, though, is that it seems perfectly intuitive to me that that is true. I'm not sure why you need to do a study on it. It's like, I suspect that tall people tend to bump their heads into doorways more often than short people do, but I don't think you really need a study to show that.

Jens
2018-Dec-17, 07:53 AM
However, some "experts" say that hitting a baseball is the toughest thing of all, and indeed the best hitters only succeed (in getting a hit) 30% of the time.

I would venture that it's a function of the distance. It's like in football. Catching a penalty shoot is really, really hard, because the kicker is so close to the goal. If the penalty was shot from twice the distance, then I think nearly all goals would be caught.

cosmocrazy
2018-Dec-17, 10:09 AM
I used to compete in a motorcycle sport called "trials" at the very top level back in the 80's/90's. I often choked and buckled under pressure but conversely produce some of my best performances under the most extreme pressure. For me it was down to personal confidence. On the days I felt confident the more pressure the better I performed, I found that I went into a sort of euphoric state where I felt almost invincible. On the days my confidence was low, I tensed and felt like a big weight was on my shoulders, like I was being suffocated, trapped...

The top performers are those who feel the most confident most of the time. You see this in most sports where they dominate in competition for long periods, though in practice sessions they are no better than all the rest of their competitors. In fact I have witnessed firsthand a fella who was sensational in practice sessions, he should have been world champion many times over. But he had low self esteem and during competition he told me he felt so anxious it consumed him, no therapy (which he had plenty of) ever succeeded in him dealing with the pressure of competition.

Eclogite
2018-Dec-17, 12:59 PM
I think that is the point. What I find odd, though, is that it seems perfectly intuitive to me that that is true. I'm not sure why you need to do a study on it. It's like, I suspect that tall people tend to bump their heads into doorways more often than short people do, but I don't think you really need a study to show that.Except that such a study might reveal the reverse is true. Tall people, realising the risk, take extra care. Average sized people encountering an unexpectedly low doorway are not predisposed to caution and hit there heads.
My speculation may be correct; you may be correct. We would need a study to determine which (if either) was true. Studies convert opinions to 'facts'.

Hornblower
2018-Dec-17, 01:18 PM
When a baseball player is hitting .300 steadily, my educated guess is that he is not choking in the 7 times out of 10 that he doesn't get a hit. He is simply being defeated fair and square by skilled pitchers. When the pitcher throws breaking stuff in which the motion is undetectable until the ball is about halfway to the plate or more, the best hitter in the world will not be able to react fast enough to change the course of the bat enough to hit it cleanly. If that same batter goes into a bad slump, he may be choking a lot.

grant hutchison
2018-Dec-17, 01:26 PM
I think that is the point. What I find odd, though, is that it seems perfectly intuitive to me that that is true. I'm not sure why you need to do a study on it. It's like, I suspect that tall people tend to bump their heads into doorways more often than short people do, but I don't think you really need a study to show that.To some extent it's a "check every hypothesis" approach. And the bulk of the literature cited by these authors deals with "choking" (which has huge financial importance in sports psychology), so their data on "not choking" might be considered a useful datum. (And more likely to find a publisher, because of the Proteus effect.)
But I'd say some of it is just "We've got the data, what can we do with?", feeding into the way in which careers in science are currently assessed (in part) by the proxy of publications.
It also looks as if this paper has not yet appeared in a peer-reviewed publication, and it doesn't seem particularly well thought out to me - I think a peer reviewer would want the authors to tighten up their discussion and alter their claims.

And that, I guess, is a pitfall with arXiv - it's great that lay readers can access all these papers as pre-prints, but they're also seeing the very start of the discussion about the papers' scientific merits (or otherwise), and can easily come away with a false impression.

Grant Hutchison

Cougar
2018-Dec-17, 04:39 PM
It can be just a pub game but once tv took it up, there is both money and fame .

Oh, there was money even before TV took it up. Not huge money, but still. I used to go to dart tournaments. There were several throughout the year. Didn't do that well in the biggies (North American Open in Vegas), but at the L.A. Open I did knock out Stefan Lord, who had earlier won the News of the World tournament. Of course, I got knocked out the next round by a local hotshot. Yeah, there can be pressure! I guess the trick is to just put it aside. I figure pro golfers must have it tough!

Jens
2018-Dec-17, 11:53 PM
Except that such a study might reveal the reverse is true. Tall people, realising the risk, take extra care. Average sized people encountering an unexpectedly low doorway are not predisposed to caution and hit there heads.
My speculation may be correct; you may be correct. We would need a study to determine which (if either) was true. Studies convert opinions to 'facts'.

Sure, I understand. I'm not against studies like this, since, as you say, they might give a surprising answer. I just thought that in this case it seemed pretty intuitive.

Noclevername
2018-Dec-18, 12:16 AM
Sure, I understand. I'm not against studies like this, since, as you say, they might give a surprising answer. I just thought that in this case it seemed pretty intuitive.

How often do things determined scientifically to be factual, turn out to be counter-intuitive?

Human intuition is not a very precise instrument for determining the nature of things. It is only a few hundred thousand years old, an eyeblink in evolutionary terms, and is still rough around the edges.

Jens
2018-Dec-18, 12:53 AM
How often do things determined scientifically to be factual, turn out to be counter-intuitive?


I think it's a good question, but unfortunately I'm afraid I can't give you an answer. I'm not even sure how you'd go about finding an answer. :)

grapes
2018-Dec-20, 05:31 PM
When a baseball player is hitting .300 steadily, my educated guess is that he is not choking in the 7 times out of 10 that he doesn't get a hit. He is simply being defeated fair and square by skilled pitchers. When the pitcher throws breaking stuff in which the motion is undetectable until the ball is about halfway to the plate or more, the best hitter in the world will not be able to react fast enough to change the course of the bat enough to hit it cleanly. If that same batter goes into a bad slump, he may be choking a lot.
People keep using that .300 value, but it should be the complement of the strikeout percentage, no? If the batter doesn't strike out, they've hit the ball somewhere, right?

Although I didn't really believe it until it happened to me, you can choke on a test. I once spent an hour (on a math test) and got almost nowhere, then walked into the next room and did all the problems in twenty minutes--and it wasn't because I had the advantage of that hour to think about them. I just choked.

Ken G
2018-Dec-21, 06:49 AM
To me the lesson that is emerging is an improved concept of what "choking under pressure" actually means. I think the paper is wrong to conclude that choking under pressure doesn't happen, for the reasons Grant cited-- they haven't established what "pressure" is in their study, only what "perceived need to perform" is. Are they the same? I don't think so. Instead, I think what the study is actually trying to say is there is a mistake in the usual model of causation that we might normally think the phrase "choked under pressure" implies: that first there was pressure, and it caused a poor performance. But I think a more useful picture is essentially the reverse-- we can notice the poor performance, and look for reasons behind it, and the reason we find was "the presence of pressure." In that sense, we might be better off regarding choking as the cause and pressure as the effect-- we attribute the presence of pressure in the person who has choked, but the mistake is to say that the pressure caused the choke, when in fact the choke was caused by something happening internally in the person which, because it resulted in a choke, we regard as being "under pressure."

To see what I mean here, and to relate it to things like sports psychology, we have only to look at performers in a hugely hyped event, such as the World Cup in soccer, or the Super Bowl in American football. In these situations, it is easy to find people who have "stepped up" their game, and played "out of their heads," and it is also easy to find people who underachieved. In the former case, we say the pressure helped them "dig down" and play better, while in the latter case, we say the pressure is what undid them. But if we could actually look into their psyche as they were triumphing or failing, my guess is what we would quite clearly see is an extreme difference in their mental attitude. Often, I feel the achiever would be "in the flow," as mentioned above, meaning that they had become almost oblivious to the "pressure." So would we say they are still "under pressure," if they are oblivious to it in the moment? That's the problem, does the phrase "under pressure" mean something external to the person, who has nothing to say about it, or is it more about how they are internally reacting? The study seems to use the "external" meaning, but then all they can conclude is that people don't "choke" when under external pressure. This doesn't rule out the possibility that they could choke when under internal pressure, but then, they are in some sense already choking.

What I mean by that is related to what has been said above, in the sense that, when you look at legendary "chokes", I suspect that if you could look inside their psyche at the time, you would see a very different place there than in the heads of someone performing well. They might be distracted by self doubts, or focusing on how terrible it would be to fail, instead of simply focusing on what they need to do. Then we could say "this person is in danger of choking," but we would also notice that they are "under pressure", but in the internal sense that they are putting pressure on themself. Someone who is about to do well is likely not to have that internal voice saying "don't screw this up," or "it would be awful if you screw this up", instead they are probably thinking "I need to put the ball under the crossbar" or some such thing. If someone is clearly focused on what they need to do to win the World Cup, are they still "under pressure" because you or I would be thinking "Oh god don't miss this"? Or is it only the person who actually has that voice in their head that should be said to be "under pressure," because they are the only ones who seem to actually realize that they are under pressure?

I suspect that performing well under pressure really just means performing the same as you do when you are not under pressure, but are still focused on what you need to do. In other words, we should not consider the stakes of some event, we should instead consider how dedicated to the result is the person involved. Whether or not they will "choke" is then not seen as a function of how high are the stakes, or how badly you or I might perform in their shoes, but instead it is seen as a simple function of their actual mindset at the time. I think once we recognize that, we realize that successful sports psychology is about achieving the appropriate mental state, a question that is independent of the stakes. People who excel are often people who always bring great intensity, they seem to want to win desperately in every situation, even seemingly mundane ones. Then it's no different for them when the stakes are truly high-- they feel the same way as always, since they always try to win as hard as they can, and they always hate to lose. So high stakes doesn't alter their mental attitude, they are "competitors" in all situations and as far as they are concerned, they are always playing for the world championship. So the bottom line is, if I were a sports psychologist trying to help someone, I would just tell them to always play like the world championship was on the line, even at practice-- then when it actually is, they will have properly practiced for it, and will experience no extra "pressure" because that's just what playing always feels like. Note this doesn't mean practice with the voice "don't screw this up, you may as well be dead if you blow this" all the time, until you can play well with that voice, it means practice with total dedication to what you need to do, as though your life depended on it, until the only voice is "visualize what you need to happen, you got this."

DonM435
2018-Dec-21, 04:06 PM
People keep using that .300 value, but it should be the complement of the strikeout percentage, no? If the batter doesn't strike out, they've hit the ball somewhere, right?



Well, we don't give a golfer credit every time he hits the ball, right? A lot depends upon where he hits it!

Grey
2018-Dec-22, 12:37 AM
Although I didn't really believe it until it happened to me, you can choke on a test. I once spent an hour (on a math test) and got almost nowhere, then walked into the next room and did all the problems in twenty minutes--and it wasn't because I had the advantage of that hour to think about them. I just choked.I once did the reverse of this. For a physical thermodynamics class in grad school, the professor helpfully let us know that the five problems on the final would be pulled from the total of 25 problems on the final exams from the previous five semesters, with the numbers changed around a bit, and provided us with copies of the previous exams. So I diligently worked out 24 out of the 25 problems, but simply could not figure out how to do one of them. For some reason, even knowing how to proceed eluded me on that one problem. So I went to the exam, knowing that the odds were in my favor that I wouldn't have to worry about it, but of course that problem was one of the five. So, I quickly worked through the other four questions, and since I'd already figured them out, that took about an hour out of a three hour exam. I figured I didn't have anything better to do than stare at it and hope I could figure it out in the remaining two hours, even though I'd already spent more time than that trying to work it out. But after half an hour, it suddenly dawned on me what the right approach was, and I was able to solve it.

I certainly felt more under pressure during the exam than I had studying beforehand, but if anything, that seemed to help in that case. (Though it's also arguable that having spent so much time working on and thinking abut that particular problem, I had already done much of the work in figuring it out without entirely realizing it.)

Ken G
2018-Dec-23, 07:22 AM
Yes, I'd say chances are good that had you looked back at that problem, during your studying, after setting it down for awhile you would have been able to solve it. But they do say that necessity is the mother of invention!

cosmocrazy
2018-Dec-23, 12:10 PM
Although I didn't really believe it until it happened to me, you can choke on a test. I once spent an hour (on a math test) and got almost nowhere, then walked into the next room and did all the problems in twenty minutes--and it wasn't because I had the advantage of that hour to think about them. I just choked.

I had the same problem at a job interview. I had to do a means test, it consisted of a multitude of subjects - practical, problem solving, team work... you get the picture. There was a math test, mostly very simple basic arithmetic stuff. We got a hour to complete the 25 questions, the first 24 I completed in 20 minutes or so. I got to to last question and choked. It was geometry and I just didn't understand what the question was. I just starred at it thinking, it cant be done, what its asking for cannot be calculated from the information given, its impossible, it must be a trick question, am I missing something...? For nearly 40 minutes I went back and forth over and over panicking that I was going to make a fool of myself. After all, the previous 24 questions had been kids stuff very simple why would question No 25 be any more difficult? literally with a minute to spare it finally dawned on me. I'd misinterpreted what the question was asking. In fact it was so simple I felt very embarrassed that I'd made such an obvious mistake. Thankfully I answered it in the nick of time.

People often say "I bet you'd be good down the local pub quiz, you know a lot of stuff". Truth is, I know limited stuff and mainly only subjects I'm particularity interested in and when put on the spot to answer a question on one of these subjects, I often choke and suddenly get "brain freeze".

Ken G
2018-Dec-23, 03:09 PM
I'm pretty sure I recall an Olympic biathlete who, on two separate occasions, led the entire competition until the final target. He only had to hit the bullseye anywhere on his last shot, which is not difficult for such an expert. But in both competitions, he missed the last shot, and failed to win gold for that reason. There's nothing else one could call it but "choking under pressure." I think it's an excellent example of what we've been talking about, because the whole thing is pressure, it's the Olympics-- so why wait until the last shot to choke? So we can see that choking is not so much a function of "pressure", but rather, a kind of mental bug that can be avoided or lapsed into whenever the stakes are high. There isn't "more pressure" on the last shot than on the first one, because every shot counts the same, but there is more of a tendency to lapse into "what if I miss this" kind of thinking, rather than "what do I need to do right now." Rather than trying to "rise to the occasion," the real trick is to treat the occasion like every other, and just do what you know how to do. I think the attitude that "I need to rise to the occasion" is the main cause of "choking", not the existence of high stakes. You need awareness of the stakes to motivate you to try as hard as you can, but no harder.

Trebuchet
2018-Dec-23, 03:32 PM
People keep using that .300 value, but it should be the complement of the strikeout percentage, no? If the batter doesn't strike out, they've hit the ball somewhere, right?
No. A "hit" in baseball means a base hit, one that gets them safe to at least first base. Most times batters strike the ball they are put out.

cosmocrazy
2018-Dec-24, 03:01 PM
I'm pretty sure I recall an Olympic biathlete who, on two separate occasions, led the entire competition until the final target. He only had to hit the bullseye anywhere on his last shot, which is not difficult for such an expert. But in both competitions, he missed the last shot, and failed to win gold for that reason. There's nothing else one could call it but "choking under pressure." I think it's an excellent example of what we've been talking about, because the whole thing is pressure, it's the Olympics-- so why wait until the last shot to choke? So we can see that choking is not so much a function of "pressure", but rather, a kind of mental bug that can be avoided or lapsed into whenever the stakes are high. There isn't "more pressure" on the last shot than on the first one, because every shot counts the same, but there is more of a tendency to lapse into "what if I miss this" kind of thinking, rather than "what do I need to do right now." Rather than trying to "rise to the occasion," the real trick is to treat the occasion like every other, and just do what you know how to do. I think the attitude that "I need to rise to the occasion" is the main cause of "choking", not the existence of high stakes. You need awareness of the stakes to motivate you to try as hard as you can, but no harder.

It is about, as you mention a state of mind set. But that mind set comes from confidence and actually, in these instances, a fearless approach to failure.

The great golfer Jack Nicholas stated "golf is a game of misses, its about how good your bad shots are" From this attitude he firmly believed that so long as he missed in the right place he could not fail. This mind set enabled him to be the most successful golfer of all time even to this day.

If you think about it its a clever way of dealing with failure. You cannot hit the perfect shot every time in golf, or any other sport for that matter. Practice to make your bad shots better rather than trying to attain the good shot every time. This way when you are under pressure, rather than focusing on the perfect shot, you can in theory, relax knowing that your bad shot is good enough.

So going back to Jack Nicholas, he knew, well was confident knowing that every one of his adversaries were more than likely going to miss a few shots here and there. He knew that he was more than likely going to miss a few shots here and there. In fact in his mind every shot was a miss unless it went straight in the hole (which indeed is an accurate description since golf is all about getting it in the hole). So rather than focusing on the "pin" the flag stick, he would focus on the largest part of the green knowing that his miss would more than likely end up some where on the green any how. The irony being that (and we have all experienced this if you have competed) when we focus less on perfection and more on a safe bet we tend to attain better results than expected, or rather, than accepted.

The term "I tried to hard" is the feeling you get when you know you are capable of attaining something but you fail because you focus so hard on it your mind takes over then you think about it too much and you stifle your subconscious. What we term as "natural ability" comes from your subconsciousness, where you react with out conscious thought, where all the practice and training you have done in preparation for that moment pays off.

grant hutchison
2018-Dec-24, 03:25 PM
Ben Hogan, rather than Jack Nicklaus, I believe.
This is a game of misses. The guy who misses the best is going to win.
Amateurs aim at the pin; professionals aim at the part of the green that keeps them most clear of danger for the final putt.

(I used to use the quote in a lecture I gave about risk management.)

Grant Hutchison

schlaugh
2018-Dec-24, 04:31 PM
From Lee Trevino (and relevant to the topic):

"You don't know what pressure is until you've played for $5 a hole with only $2 in your pocket."


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grapes
2018-Dec-24, 05:46 PM
Well, we don't give a golfer credit every time he hits the ball, right? A lot depends upon where he hits it!
Maybe a bad example? :)

Golfers get credit for every shot.

No. A "hit" in baseball means a base hit, one that gets them safe to at least first base. Most times batters strike the ball they are put out.
I know! but I'm not trying to give credit to a batter, I'm just talking about the difficulty of striking the ball (I'll try to avoid baseball terminology this time so I don't confuse the issue). For that matter, the statistics might be even worse than ".300" since a player gets so many chances to strike the ball during a session (each time at bat, no strike that (argggh), each set of opportunities to strike the projectile).

grant hutchison
2018-Dec-24, 06:01 PM
From Lee Trevino (and relevant to the topic):
You don't know what pressure is until you've played for $5 a hole with only $2 in your pocket." And the corollary, that you can't pressurize elite professional golfers by fining them for bad behaviour. These guys are multimillionaires. Jack Nicklaus pointed out that if competition organizers were serious about stopping slow play, they wouldn't fine these guys a (to the player) trivial amount, they'd penalize them a shot. They're not playing because they want money - they're playing because they're pathologically competitive.

Grant Hutchison

schlaugh
2018-Dec-24, 06:23 PM
And the corollary, that you can't pressurize elite professional golfers by fining them for bad behaviour. These guys are multimillionaires. Jack Nicklaus pointed out that if competition organizers were serious about stopping slow play, they wouldn't fine these guys a (to the player) trivial amount, they'd penalize them a shot. They're not playing because they want money - they're playing because they're pathologically competitive.

Grant Hutchison

Nicklus got his wish a while back because assessing a one-shot (or more) penalty is how it works today in many professional and amateur tournaments. The European tour experimented with a 40-second shot clock at the Austrian Open in June of this year.

The policy below applies to PGA tour events. (https://thegolfnewsnet.com/golfnewsnetteam/2018/01/29/what-pga-tours-pace-play-policy-108181/)


On the PGA Tour, their pace of play policy starts with an assumption that the player will abide by what's called time par, which is a course-by-course determination of how long a twosome or threesome should take to play each of 18 holes and a full round in total. The enforcement of the pace of play policy starts when a group is determined to be "out of position." That happens to the first group of a round -- on any starting tee box -- when they exceed the allotted time par. Subsequent groups are considered out of position when they exceed that allotted time per hole or reach an open par 3, or they reach an open par 4 or par 5 and haven't yet played a shot.

It's at that point that a rules official can put a group on the clock after informing them of the decision. It's at that point, all players in the group will be timed on each shot until they get back up to pace. In addition to group timing, a PGA Tour rules official can, at their discretion, begin timing individual players for any reason, even if the player's group is not out of position.

Generally speaking, players are afforded 40 seconds to play a stroke. They're allowed 60 seconds to play a stroke if they're the first to play on a par 3, first to play a second shot into a par 4 or par 5, first to play a third shot into a par 5, or the first to play around or on the putting green.


If a player exceeds the time allotted on any stroke, they're then informed by an official. For the first offense while being timed, they're given a warning. If they get another bad time while under watch in a single round, they get a one-stroke penalty. If they get a third bad time, they're given a two-stroke penalty. If they get a fourth bad time, they're disqualified. At the end of a round, bad times are forgotten for the purposes of penalty strokes.

DonM435
2018-Dec-24, 07:03 PM
Maybe a bad example? :)

Golfers get credit for every shot.

...

Actually, they get a debit for every shot, as fewer shots wins!
All I meant was that they're expected to make contact every time. Any golfer over five years old who ever misses the ball is in big trouble.

(This is from someone who knows very little about golf!)

Ken G
2018-Dec-24, 07:33 PM
The great golfer Jack Nicholas stated "golf is a game of misses, its about how good your bad shots are" From this attitude he firmly believed that so long as he missed in the right place he could not fail. This mind set enabled him to be the most successful golfer of all time even to this day. Another interesting fact about Jack Nicholas is that his extra-hole playoff record is 14-10, which is within one standard deviation of 50-50. So he wasn't great because he always won the close ones, he was great because he got into so many close ones.

schlaugh
2018-Dec-24, 07:34 PM
And of course all of this prompts another old saw:


...for another opinion on the same subject, Sam Snead and Ted Williams once argued whether it was harder to hit a golf ball or a baseball, until Snead said: “Ted, you don’t have to go up in the stands and play your foul balls. I do.”


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DonM435
2018-Dec-27, 07:26 PM
https://golfhistorytoday.com/1951-sam-snead-golf-ball-wrigley-field/

23867

cosmocrazy
2018-Dec-28, 10:02 AM
Ben Hogan, rather than Jack Nicklaus, I believe.
Amateurs aim at the pin; professionals aim at the part of the green that keeps them most clear of danger for the final putt.

(I used to use the quote in a lecture I gave about risk management.)

Grant Hutchison

Yes you are right, thinking back now Ben Hogan was the originator, but it was Jack Nicholas who I remember the most for quoting it :)

I've read Ben Hogans book and watched quite a few videos on him. He was a very clever man and regarded as the finest ball striker of all time. Probably would have been even more successful had he not been involved in that car crash and less tournaments played due to the war.

cosmocrazy
2018-Dec-28, 10:07 AM
Another interesting fact about Jack Nicholas is that his extra-hole playoff record is 14-10, which is within one standard deviation of 50-50. So he wasn't great because he always won the close ones, he was great because he got into so many close ones.

He was probably one of the most confident sports persons of all time. For example when he turned up at a tournament he was often heard commenting with things like "There's only a couple of players who have any chance of beating me and they can't play well all of the time so I'm more than likely going to win".

Although he knew he wasn't the best ball striker or the best putter... he truly believed he was the best "golfer" in the world.

Ken G
2018-Dec-28, 10:52 AM
Golf is great for sports psychology since it's just you, the club, and the ball. Here's a quote from Bobby Jones that is quite appropriate to the thread:
"A leading difficulty with the average player is that he totally misunderstands what is meant by concentration. He may think he is concentrating hard when he is merely worrying."
Perhaps they could have saved the research money and just listened to Bobby!

cosmocrazy
2018-Dec-28, 01:35 PM
Golf is great for sports psychology since it's just you, the club, and the ball. Here's a quote from Bobby Jones that is quite appropriate to the thread:
"A leading difficulty with the average player is that he totally misunderstands what is meant by concentration. He may think he is concentrating hard when he is merely worrying."
Perhaps they could have saved the research money and just listened to Bobby!

Yes, anybody who plays golf and hears that will realize what he was talking about!

grant hutchison
2018-Dec-28, 03:52 PM
The guy's name is Jack Nicklaus (http://www.worldgolfhalloffame.org/jack-nicklaus/), by the way.

Grant Hutchison

schlaugh
2018-Dec-28, 04:06 PM
The guy's name is Jack Nicklaus (http://www.worldgolfhalloffame.org/jack-nicklaus/), by the way.

Grant Hutchison

Thank you. I was beginning to twitch.

DonM435
2018-Dec-28, 04:07 PM
The guy's name is Jack Nicklaus (http://www.worldgolfhalloffame.org/jack-nicklaus/), by the way.

Grant Hutchison

Homer Simpson at the putting arcade: "D'oh! Jack Nicholson himself couldn't make that shot!"