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What is the psychological state underlying “clutch performance” – excelling under pressure?

29 June 2017

Pressure does interesting things to an athlete. For some, it leads to an increase in tension, nerves and anxiety.

Others are able to channel this increased pressure into running faster, jumping higher and throwing further. What strategies do these “big game players” use to raise their game under heightened pressure – known as a ‘clutch performance’?

In the Journal of Sports Sciences, researchers from Australia and England recently reported the results of their interviews with sixteen athletes from around the world just a few days after they had delivered an excellent sporting performance in a competition when under pressure.

The findings represent a step forward in our understanding of expert and skilled performances, showing how clutch performance is similar to, but distinct from, the related concept of “flow”.

Read more from guest blogger Bradley Busch on our Research Digest blog.

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