Academic journal article Ife Psychologia

Effects of Extraneous Variables on Performance of Choking-Susceptible University Athletes

Academic journal article Ife Psychologia

Effects of Extraneous Variables on Performance of Choking-Susceptible University Athletes

Article excerpt


The study investigates effects of extraneous variables on performance of choking-susceptible University elite and non-elite athletes. The study used a pretest-posttest design. A total of 120 males and females athletes were used as participants in the first stage (±=1.15 or .36), of which sixty participants (30 elite and 30 non-elite athletes) were drawn from the pull (n = 74). Two instruments were used at the initial stage: Self-consciousness scale (s-c) and State anxiety scale (A-trait) with established s-c (α = .77) and A- trait (α = .75). Furthermore, Competitive State Anxiety Inventory-2 (CSAI-2) with an-established α = .85, .83 somatic intensity and direction; cognitive intensity and direction α = .76, .83 subscale, measuring anxiety level of participants prior to performance. Fifty-seven participants (30 elite and 27 non-elite) completed a series of basketball layup shorts in a low pressure (LP) condition (pre-test) and high pressure (HP) condition (post-test). Two hypotheses were tested at 0.05 level of significance. Analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) was used to analyzed the data.

The results obtained showed that hypothesis one using two psychological inventories were accurate predictors of choking-susceptible university elite and non-elite athletes at 66.7% success rate. There was a significant main effect on task [F ^sub (1, 56)^ = 24.276, p<.05], While there were no significant effect on gender [F ^sub (1, 56)^ = 2.169, p>.05] and sport composition [F ^sub (1, 56)^ = 1.635, p>.05]. Based on the outcomes of the results and previous choking research, choking processes are relatively complex and differ based on personality characteristics. Therefore, understanding individual zone of optimum functioning (ZOF), administration of intervention strategies such as group activation, skill techniques and sufficient training before competitions in different situations could help to control and managed choking effect among susceptible athletes.


Athletes experience pressure to perform in sport due to high expectations from the public and coaches. The desire to perform as much as possible in situations with high degree of importance is thought to create performance pressure (Palaciod-Huerta 2003, Johnston-O'Connor, 2004). Sport competitions are filled with pressures that cause athletes to experience detrimental performance. Competition is described as an achievement situation that compares athletes' performances against some standard, providing information about an athlete's success or failure (Adegbesan, 2007). Also, high-level competition could bring more demands, and increased emphasis on success that could increase pressure on the athletes. Consequently, the problems that emanate from performance decline could be traced to pressure (Adeyanju, 1996).

Researchers in sport psychology domain (Baumeister, 1984; Masters, 1992; Dohmen, 2005) have explained that competition heightened pressure could negatively affect performance. Pressure may result in attention and behavioural changes whereby athletes experience the embarrassing and uncomfortable phenomenon often referred to as choking under pressure. Wallance, Baumeister and Vohs, (2005) described Choking under pressure as a situation where individual's performance under high pressure is inferior to low-pressure performance, which results in negative change in performance.

Choking is inability to perform up to a set standard with high anxiety as typically the major cause, and this leads directly to a decline in performance. Athletes are sometimes accused of choking when they fail to perform well in an important competition or when they lose after seeming to be in an unbeatable position. For instance, a basketball player with her team losing by a slim margin misses free throws with only seconds left to play; a tennis player produces unforced errors after being in a commanding position, could be described as been choked. …

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