Simple fist-squeezing procedure helps athletes avoid choking under pressure

Posted on June 20, 2013

The next time you're faced with a high-pressure situation in sport, try squeezing your left fist tight for thirty seconds. According to a team of German sports psychologists, doing so will activate your right hemisphere, aiding automatic, skilled performance and preventing choking under pressure, which they say is linked with left-hemisphere activity and conscious deliberation.

Jurgen Beckmann and his colleagues tested their intervention across three studies. In the first, 30 semi-professional footballers aimed penalty kicks at holes in a wall. They did this in a low-pressure situation then competitively in front of a crowd. The fist squeezing was described to participants as a way to boost concentration. Kickers who squeezed a soft ball in their right fist for thirty seconds prior to the high-pressure situation choked - their performance dipped compared with the no pressure situation. By contrast, the competitors who squeezed their left fist showed no evidence of choking.

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Category(s):Sports Psychology

Source material from The British Psychological Society