Sports Psychologist, Author, 2x World Champ
Great question. How do you avoid choking in big moments? The problem with choking is that most players, most athletes, when this happens, they get overly conscious, self-conscious, thinking too much, overthinking technique, and what we call "get in their heads." So the problem is just overreacting. You feel nervous. You're having negative thoughts. And it's really easy to get swept away in that. And of course, yeah, the brain gets activated. Adrenaline kicks in, and it feels really overwhelming sometimes. But really, it's so important to expect that occasionally, you're going to get nervous. You're going to have negative thoughts. So when it does happen, you can accept it. You can accept it in the moment, not overreact, and use your tools, use some of the things that I'll be discussing in some of these questions, whether it be breathing or shifting your focus to something that's relevant, the task at hand. You really need to be disciplined in this regard. But of course, the feeling when you're, quote, "choking" and overthinking is so inconsistent with how you feel when you're playing well. So there's this sort of tendency to evaluate subconsciously how different it feels, and so there's that overreaction and panic. So it's so important to accept what's happening, as hard as that is. And then you are-- it's really important to shift your attention away from yourself and onto the target and what's relevant at the moment.