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Why Athletes Choke In The Big Games?

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All sports fans have heard athletes comment that they "choked" or just couldn't win the big game. The topic that will be addressed in this paper deals with the outcome of sporting events and why athletes continue to choke during and at the end of extremely important competitions. Baumeister (1992) found that "the choking reflex can be attributed to psychoneuromuscular influences"(p.3). My interest in the subject comes from being a big sports fan and a former athlete. And also from hearing people make comments such as, Scott Norwood and the entire Buffalo Bills football team are "chokers". They can't even win one Super Bowl in four tries. Barry Bonds can't get one hit in the playoffs and thinks he's the best baseball player ever. At the end of this paper you will be able to see why coaches and players go through these rough situations and what they can do to prevent them from happening again.

In golf, "choking" is known as the "yips" and is defined as a psychoneuromuscular impediment of the execution of the simplest of tasks (Smith, 2000, p. 1). Adler (2003) defined the "yips" as a motor phenomenon of involuntary movements affecting golfers (p. 1). "Yips" is believed to be acquired through the deterioration of motor pathways via the basal ganglia. In some players it results from severe performance anxiety. This means that when a high level of stress and physiological arousal is present the "yips" start to show up. Basic patterns of the "yips" include sweaty palms, uncontrollable jerks, and anxiety. These symptoms continue to repeat themselves until the person that is affected learns to deal with these situations. These problems can influence quality of performance and even result in decreased playing time. "Yips" can also lead to the use of both alcohol and drugs as a coping adjacent. (Adler, Crews, Wharen, & Laskowski



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