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Choke: What the Secrets of the Brain Reveal About Getting It Right When You Have To Paperback – August 9, 2011
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“Readable explanations for why we choke and valuable suggestions for what we can do to get through a make-or-break moment with a better chance of success.”
--Wall Street Journal
"If you aspire to be cool under maximum pressure (and who doesn't?), Beilock offers smart tips such as practicing under pressure and 'pausing the choke' by walking away from the problem for a few minutes in order to think clearly."
“. . . a must read for golfers.” – WorldGolf
“Choke is an important, fascinating book. Everyone who is looking for optimal performance would benefit from reading it and implementing its principles.”
—Daniel G. Amen, MD, Author of Change Your Brain, Change Your Body
“Do you want to hit better shots on the golf course? Score higher on the SAT? Get less nervous before speaking in public? In this marvelous book, Sian Beilock will tell you how, as she reveals the mental secrets to performing under pressure.”
--Jonah Lehrer, author of How We Decide and Proust Was a Neuroscientist
“A wonderful exploration of what happens inside when you choke on the outside. Essential for anyone who has, or plans, to compete, and especially for those who have choked.”
--Andrew Newberg, M.D., co-author of How God Changes Your Brain and Born to Believe
About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
As a performing musician who, after many years, still would like to improve his consistency and quality of performance, I started this book expecting specific advice about how to deal with choking, i.e. how to counteract the tendency toward freaking out and not doing one's best when it most counts. Beilock does make a useful distinction early on between so-called "working memory," which seems to be conscious intellectual thought and analysis, and "thinking outside the box," which seems to be what most of us might call instinct or gut reaction. The upshot of her thesis boils down to this: under pressure people who rely heavily on working memory get into trouble because too much conscious thought can actually inhibit and disrupt performance rather than enhance it. While certainly true this is not exactly a new idea, and rather than develop it Beilock goes off for much of the book on tangents about high-stakes academic testing and self-reinforcing stereotypes, material that is certainly provocative and important but that seems less than central to the main topic. There is some sound advice about preparing by putting oneself in pressure situations in advance of the "main event," and of dealing with performance anxiety by writing about it and facing it head-on rather than denying or ignoring it. I also like the little checklists that summarize the main points of several chapters.Read more ›
It's the day of the big test, and even though you've aced every practice test, you can't even get through the first few problems on the actual test. Or, you've mastered your speech, and could practically recite it in your sleep, and then on the day of your performance, you freeze. Or, you've been flawlessly making every putt on the greens during practice, but when the pressure's on during the game, you can't putt to save your life.
We're all too familiar with the ways the brain can choke. Fortunately, Sian's book _Choke_ provides us with insight into why our brains can get derailed, and also offers techniques for getting things back on track. In essence, there are two ways the brain can choke. The first happens when worries and anxieties interfere with the brain's horsepower needed for complex-thinking and reasoning tasks. The second happens when we over-focus too much on a performance, disrupting the natural flow of what normally happens outside of our conscious awareness. _Choke_ addressees both types of brain bonks, and shows what we can do about each.
The book is packed with plenty of food for thought to help nourish the brain and prevent choking. To whet your cognitive appetite, here's just a sample:
The curse of expertise:
*As we get better at performing a skill, our conscious memory for how we do it gets worse and worse. (p. 16)
*Practice can actually change the physical wiring of the brain to support exceptional performance. (p. 43)
*Athletes' tendency to overthink their performance is one big predictor of whether they will choke in important games or matches. (p.Read more ›
I had one very frustrating issue with it though. Nowhere in the promotional material for this book is there any indication that it will be about scientific research that disproves the biological explanation for the differences between Men and Women in the Math and Science fields. Yet, for some reason, a full quarter, verging on a third of text is devoted to this topic.
It's a strange experience to read this. The author establishes a thread about the neurological basis of choking, and then goes on a nearly 100 page tangent. While this is certainly an interesting, significant, and necessary topic, it doesn't fit in well with the rest of the book.
It seems as if it would have worked better on its own.
Other than this issue, the book is a great read.
SUMMARY: To start, Beilock defines choking as a response to a perceived stressor that results in suboptimal performance. Essentially, it is when one does not live up to expectations given their talent level and performs worse than they have done in the past. The goal of the book is to explain why, when, and how failure under pressure happens. Much of the answer lies in the differentiation between procedural memory and explicit memory. Procedural memory consists of things that you do outside of conscious awareness and explicit memory is your ability to consciously think and reason on the spot.
Beilock discusses how explicit memory involves working-memory, or the ability to hold information in short-term memory while doing something else at the same time. Working-memory and conscious control are activated in the prefrontal cortex of the brain, which is used in problem solving and decision making situations. Often when in a stressful situation, the prefrontal cortex malfunctions. It stops communicating with other brain areas needed for cognitive success, causing the choke to begin.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I always enjoy knowing the physiology of human performance. The suggestions on how to minimize choking were an added benefit. Read morePublished 25 days ago by Old Runner
“Choke” in this book means to underperform under high stakes. It doesn’t mean to be a poor performer, generally. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Bernie Gourley
This book was mentioned at a professional development for teachers. I look forward to reading it during the summer.Published 1 month ago by Penny McKenzie
gave to Grandson....a baseball player...anything that can help....Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
Interesting read. A great addition to anyone's library that is interested in sport psychology and the inner workings of an athlete's mindPublished 3 months ago by Andrew
This book was missing chapters and had the same chapters shoved in the middle so it was useless to me.Published 8 months ago by Amazon Customer
Although the information that Choke offers is helpful and correct, it isn't presented in great depth. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Just Me
This is a very interesting and useful read. It helps us understand the causes of suboptimal human performance and uses empirical science as a source of tools to achieve our... Read morePublished 9 months ago by Sean M. Gallagher