The County schools sports scene has been around for many years. In these years, the emphasis on sports and achievements in our schools has grown tremendously. Starting with just 16 sports, the County Schools Sports Council now oversees 28 sports. This growth has a few noticeable effects not only on schools but also on our student athletes. The desire to compete, to win and to lift the championship can be seen on the face of every athlete that steps onto the playing field. Many would say that this is a strength of our school sports scene as each individual strives for excellence. On the flip side, we cannot deny the fact that the pressures to bring glory to oneself and the school they represent have grown many folds.
The role of an athlete in any game situation is psychologically demanding (Miller, 2001). Some athletes thrive under pressure while some just succumb to pressure. From scoring a penalty during a penalty shoot-out in soccer to making a game winning free throw in basketball, sports competitions are filled with pressure and sometimes this pressure causes athletes to experience detrimental performances as shown by Baumeister (1984) and Masters (1992) where they mentioned that negative performance can be attributed to heightened pressure.
When teams or athletes perform well and outdo themselves, they are given a hero’s status and are praised but when they perform badly, falter at the crucial moments or cost their teams or themselves the win, they are at times subjected to embarrassment, ridicule and a huge drop in morale. As mentioned by Mesagno & Mullane-Grant (2010), such athletes who crumble under pressure experience the humiliating phenomenon of “choking under pressure”.
Choking as defined by Mesagno & Mullane-Grant (2010) refers to “a critical deterioration in skill execution leading to substandard performance that is caused by an elevation in anxiety levels under perceived pressure at a time when successful outcome is normally attainable by the athlete”. Mesagno, Marchant, and Morris (2008) defined choking as “the critical deterioration in the execution of habitual processes that results from an increase in anxiety under perceived pressure”. Wallace, Baumeister, and Vohs (2005) dissected the phrase “choking under pressure” and simply put it as underachievement. They mentioned that athletes have choked when performance under high pressure settings is substantially inferior to performance under low pressure settings.
Although there are many definitions being proposed, what is critical is that the definitions all point in the same direction where a player who is experiencing choking is unsuccessful when he is typically supposed to be successful and this also occurs when the final result of the competition has yet to be determined.
Despite numerous researches being done with regards to choking under pressure in sports, there is still uncertainty about what exactly results in a “choke”...