Why We ‘Choke’ Under Pressure, According To Neuroscience

During the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, all eyes were on the U.S. Women’s Gymnastics team, who won the team gold in gymnastics for America for the first time since 1996. But during the individual vault event, all eyes were on one U.S. gymnast in particular: McKayla Maroney. The 16-year-old gymnast had chosen for the team in large part because of her impressive skill in vaulting, and she was all but guaranteed to win gold in the event.

But when the time came for Maroney to sprint down the runway and spring off the apparatus, her gaze intent and her eyes on the prize, Maroney choked. She completely botched her performance, landing on the mat on her rear end. Needless to say, she lost the gold.

“It happens,” Maroney said afterwards. “It’s gymnastics, and you can’t be perfect. Sometimes, things don’t go as planned. I don’t blame it on anything else. I just messed up.”

Choking is a common, though agonizing, story for most professional athletes and performers. And it usually has nothing to do with a lack of skill, but rather, the pressure of the immense gains or losses that are at stake.

“Choking isn’t just poor performance,” —> Read More Here


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