When it comes to athletics, everyone knows that improving your performance on the field is largely reflective of the physical training and practice you do off the field. But there is another, more elusive component to sports, and that is controlled by the muscle between your ears: your brain. And the mental aspect of sports is what really makes them interesting to watch; if you eliminated it, the bigger, stronger, faster person would always win. Introducing anger, fear, confidence, and selfishness creates a wild card that ensures that no matter what the sport is, there will always be surprising twists and turns.
The first word that usually comes to mind when talking about this subject is usually “clutch”. Those who are clutch come through in the toughest and most trying of circumstances. They are the ones who hit the walk-off home runs in the bottom of the ninth, the ones who hit the game-winning free throws, and the ones who kick the ball through the uprights from 50+ yards out as time expires. It seems that for every one person like this, however, that there are a multitude of others that wilt, crumble, and fail in these same situations. The word you might think of in regards to these people is “choke”.
If any of this stuff interests you, then Choke is a must-read. Psychologist Sian Beilock examines the link between the body and the mind, and what happens inside the brain, and consequently the body, when we bomb that standardized test, miss that gimme putt, or hit the wrong note in that song we’ve practiced over and over and over. She also explains how we can avoid this problem altogether, based on the latest and most-cutting edge science and research.
It’s important to note that all of this does not only apply to sports; there are situations in everyday life that incur absurd amounts of pressure, and reading this book can help you find out how to avoid having to use “nerves” as an excuse for poor performance.