Choking and prevention strategies in shooting competition

Introduction: Choking, medically, means physical choking and blocking. Choking is a term used in sports competition to describe the phenomenon of the athletes’ skill disintegration induced by the extra effort which causes a change in attention. This research aims to explain the process of choking under pressure by qualitatively investigating the psychological, physiological and behavioural aspects of choking. Although numerous studies have been conducted, the results are not consistent. Furthermore, most of the studies focus on perceptive control, such as conscious control or attention change. Research on the prevention and understanding of the mechanisms of choking such as strategies, movement characteristics and circulatory processes is limited. Through investigative literature review, this study is based on the concept and mechanism of choking, combined with the characteristics of the shooters’ cognition, attention and mental control, to analyse the reasons for choking at the very important point in modern high-level sport competition. By investigating the possible factors that can cause choking, this research suggests measures for prevention and coping strategies for this phenomena as a reference for athletes of the 2008 Olympics. Methods The research discusses and analyses information that may be used to describe and understand the choking phenomena found among shooters (male = 4, female = 4, Mean age=25.43±5.67) in the national shooting team. Information was derived from a literature review, observation, semi structured interviews and expert interviews. Results The results showed that the following eight categories are included as factors contributing to the choking phenomenon: pressure, attention, anxiety, negative cognition, activation of the sympathetic system and physical dysthesia. Discussion / Conclusions Other research shows that during the final stage of the Olympic Games, a shooters’ performance is influenced by many factors. However, only the factor of their psychological status has a statistical significant difference. This research proposed specific measures concerning the psychology of choking. Additional research is required to address the physiological processes involved in ‘choking’. The author has used biofeedback technology, SPCS (Self-generate Physiological Coherence System) and measurements of the shooters’ HRV (Heart Rate Variability). The preliminary results demonstrate that SPCS is an effective tool for the mental training of shooters. Further research may use the SPCS technology in the prevention of this phenomenon.
© Copyright 2008 2008 International Convention on Science, Education and Medicine in Sport: Proceedings, Vol. III. Published by People´s Sports Publishing House. All rights reserved.

Subjects: sport psychology prevention concentration psychic characteristics shooting performance
Notations: technical sports social sciences
Tagging: choking Aufmerksamkeit
Published in: 2008 International Convention on Science, Education and Medicine in Sport: Proceedings, Vol. III
Editors: ICSEMIS Organizing Committee
Published: Guangzhou People´s Sports Publishing House 2008
Pages: 85-86
Document types: congress proceedings
Language: English
Level: advanced