How Not to Choke Under Pressure

Sian Beilock has a formula for performing in the clutch: Don’t pay too much attention to what you are doing.

By Carlin Flora|Sunday, August 01, 2010
At the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the star American gymnast Alicia Sacramone was expected to grab gold. But just as she approached the balance beam, an official pulled her aside. Watching at home on TV, Sian Beilock, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Chicago, cringed. An expert on “choking”—or falling apart under pressure—Beilock knew that allowing an athlete even a second to think about what she’s about to do can be disastrous. Indeed, after ge...

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