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Your evening longread: What makes athletes bottle it under pressure?

It’s a coronavirus-free zone as we bring you an interesting longread each evening to take your mind off today’s news events.

Missing a crucial penalty in a shootout
Missing a crucial penalty in a shootout

EVERY WEEK, WE bring you a round-up of the best longreads of the past seven days in Sitdown Sunday.

And now, every weeknight, we bring you an evening longread to enjoy which will help you to escape the news cycle.

We’ll be keeping an eye on new longreads and digging back into the archives for some classics.

Under pressure: why athletes choke

Anyone who’s ever watched sport will have seen it. Athletes in peak physical condition. They’ve trained for years, decades to get to this moment.

This is their time to show what they can do. But, sometimes, it doesn’t work out that way and they blow it at the crucial moment.

This Guardian piece looks at why the very best sometimes buckle under pressure.

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“Athletes weighed down by anxiety also use their eyes less efficiently. When table tennis players are anxious, they spend longer fixating on the ball and less time on their opponent, which may reduce their ability to pick up cues and anticipate what will happen next.

When tennis players are anxious, they become less effective at picking up contextual information such as the sequencing of shots in the rally and the probability of their opponent playing certain types of shots.

“Other anxiety-induced responses include hypervigilance – the ‘deer in the headlights’ phenomenon – a narrowed field of view or tunnel vision, or paying attention to irrelevant sights. In each of these cases, anxious athletes are likely to miss critical information.”

(The Guardian, approximately 30 minutes reading time)

Read all of the Evening Longreads here>

About the author:

Sean Murray

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