Choking in Sport Explained for Counsellors: Theories, Interventions, and Considerations
Performance optimization is a key reason why athletes seek mental performance support, and when athletes do not perform up to their own expectations in decisive moments of the game, the results are devastating. This capstone explores the impact of choking on athletes' self-concept and provides an entryway for counsellors working with athletes to learn about the nuances of sport performance. Chapter two of the capstone uses a chronological approach to explore the four main theories in choking: the self-focus model, the distraction model, the overarousal model and the self-presentation model. Similarities between the self-focus model and the distraction model—which fit under the umbrella of attentional models of choking—are examined. Next, interventions are presented in a manner that is matched to each model of choking. Interventions related to the self-focus model include: implicit learning, brain-hemisphere priming. Interventions related to the distraction model include: quiet-eye training, acclimatization, and pre-performance routines. Interventions that are not theory-matched are presented next, and include ones such as: mindfulness-based interventions, additional acclimatization considerations, goal setting, and dual-task training. Chapter three presents limitations of the research in choking literature, calling into question the subjectivity of participant responses, and researcher biases, before presenting contextual considerations that are helpful for counsellors to note when working with athletes on choking prevention. Considerations cover issues such as: seasonality, position, experience, and collaboration with other professionals that work with the athlete.