Examining physical exertion as a potential cause of choking

Rouhollah Maher */**/***, Daryl Marchant */**/***, Tony Morris */**/*** and Fatemeh Fazel */**/***

(*) Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia
(**) Institute of Sport, Exercise and Active Living (ISEAL)
(***) College of Sport and Exercise Science


Maher, R., Marchant, D., Morris, T., Fazel, F. (2019). Examining physical exertion as a potential cause of choking. International Journal of Sport Psychology, 50(6), 548-564. doi:10.7352/IJSP.2019.50.548


Choking in sport is precipitated by a broad range of documented antecedents. One potential antecedent that may hinder performance under pressure is physical exertion. In the current experiment, a within-subjects design was implemented with 50 student-athletes who completed 40 basketball free-throws in four manipulated conditions: higher pressure-running, higher pressure-no running, lower pressure- running, and lower pressure-no running. A repeated measures analysis of variance revealed that participants scored significantly lower in the higher-pressure conditions than the lower-pressure conditions. Furthermore, participants scored significantly higher in the no-running conditions compared to the running conditions. The current results are in keeping with the conventional wisdom that physical effort can undermine performance in pressure circumstances. The applied implications of these results are discussed and tentative conclusions drawn for sport psychologists, coaches, and athletes.

Keywords: Anxiety, Basketball, Choking, Free-throw Shooting, Physical exertion