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Exploring Choking Experience in Elite Sport The Role of Self-Presentation.pdf (922.59 kB)

Exploring choking experiences in elite sport: The role of self- presentation

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journal contribution
posted on 2022-02-21, 16:51 authored by Denise M. Hill, Sarah Carvell, Nic Matthews, Neil Weston, Richard Thelwell
Objectives The aims of this study were twofold: first, to examine the role of self-presentation within the lived-experience of choking in sport; and second, to explore whether the 2 × 2 framework of self-presentation (Howle, Jackson, Conroy, & Dimmock, 2015) holds the potential to further our understanding of acute sporting failure under pressurized conditions. Design and Method An empirical phenomenological research design was adopted to address the research aims. Purposefully selected participants completed phenomenological interviews, which explored in detail their experiences of choking and clutch performance under pressure. The sample consisted of 9 elite athletes (6 male and 3 female) (Mage = 27.14; SD = 5.27) from a range of sports (netball, rugby union, golf, tennis, and cricket). Results Participants reported a tendency to hold protective-agentic self-presentation motives, low self-presentation efficacy, and self-presentational concerns prior to, and during the choke. Conversely, acquisitive-agentic self-presentation motives, and self-presentation efficacy were experienced before and during clutch performances. However, alongside self-presentation, other psychological constructs also preceded and accompanied the choking experience (e.g., unfamiliarity and perceived control). Conclusion This exploratory study is the first to identify the value of examining choking in sport through the lens of the 2 × 2 self-presentation framework, with self-presentation motives appearing to influence the choking experience. Yet, it is also evident that self-presentation may not explain all choking episodes.


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Psychology of Sport and Exercise




  • AM (Accepted Manuscript)


Hill, D.M., Carvell, S., Matthews, N., Weston, N.J. and Thelwell, R.R. (2017) 'Exploring choking experiences in elite sport: The role of self-presentation', Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 33, pp.141-149

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Nic Matthews

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