Alleviating Choking: The Sounds of Distraction
“Choking” is defined as a critical deterioration in the execution of habitual processes as a result of an elevation in anxiety levels under perceived pressure, leading to substandard performance. In the current study, music was used in a “dual-task” paradigm to facilitate performance under pressure. Three “choking-susceptible” experienced female basketball players were purposively sampled from 41 screened players. Participants completed 240 basketball free throws in a single-case A1-B1-A2-B2 design (A phases = “low-pressure” and B phases = “high-pressure”), with the music intervention occurring during the B2 phase. Following completion of the phases, an interview was conducted to examine perceptions of choking and cognitions associated with the effects of the music lyrics. Participants improved performance in the B2 phase, and explained that choking resulted from an increase in public self-awareness (S-A). The music intervention decreased S-A, and enabled participants to minimize explicit monitoring of execution and reduce general distractibility.
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