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Choke: What the Secrets of the Brain Reveal About Getting It Right When You Have To
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Choke: What the Secrets of the Brain Reveal About Getting It Right When You Have To

3.48  ·  Rating Details  ·  462 Ratings  ·  78 Reviews

Why do the smartest students often do poorly on standardized tests?

Why did you tank that interview or miss that golf swing when you should have had it in the bag?

Why do you mess up when it matters the most—and how can you perform your best instead?

It happens to all of us. You’ve prepared for days, weeks, even years for the big day when you will finally show your stuff—in
ebook, 304 pages
Published September 21st 2010 by Atria Books (first published September 10th 2010)
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Mar 15, 2011 Trevor rated it really liked it
Shelves: psychology, education
A couple of years ago I read Predictably Irrational. That is a wonderful book – utterly fascinating while having the added bonus of also being very funny. One of the parts of that book that made my jaw drop was the story of Asian women who were given a maths test. Half of these women reminded of the fact they were women (and we all know women are hopeless at maths) and the other half being reminded that they were Asian (and we also all know Asians are great at maths) with the effect being that t ...more
This has some extremely good points to make about worry, cognition, and stereotypes that make it worthwhile reading for anyone. For instance, worrying about not doing something makes it more likely that you'll unintentionally do it.
I only gave it two stars because I found it repetitive and full of sports stories, which I have minimal interest in.
Also, as a woman with very high math ability and experience in math and computer programming, I'm getting tired of books piling on Lawrence Summers' qu
Martin Rennick
Jan 16, 2011 Martin Rennick rated it it was ok
This is one of those books that takes a concept and beats you over the head with it, and once it starts it just keeps on beating.
Jan 13, 2012 Sarah rated it really liked it
This is by far the best book on performance anxiety that I've read...and I've read a lot. According to the author, "choking" is the term used by golfers when they bomb an easy putt due to a high stakes game or when a kicker in football misses an easy goal because of self-consciousness and worry. Beilock uses examples mostly from the sports and academic world but I found they can easily be transferred to any performing arts situation. The claims and theories are backed up by considerable research ...more
Mar 16, 2015 David rated it it was ok
Whether you're trying to make that last free throw to win the game or you're being interviewed for that new high powered position, many of us have failed to perform at our best when the situation really mattered. In this book, the author sets out to explain why we perform worse than expected under high pressured moments and also provides clues on how to get through those make-or-break moments with a better chance of success.

Though I found the author's points insightful, I thought she milked and
George Rodriguez
Apr 11, 2012 George Rodriguez rated it liked it
Do you want to ace the big test, make the game winning shot or close the biggest deal of your career? Or does the fear of failing when it matters most hold sway over your thoughts everywhere from the classroom, the playing field and the boardroom? Either way, Sian Beilock’s Choke will show you not only why we choke under pressure, but more importantly what we can do to steel ourselves and prepare to succeed when it’s crunch time.

Based on research from the fields of psychology, neuroscience, spor
Mar 29, 2014 Scarecrow rated it it was ok
I had already known with the large majority of the content of this book. New details were fewer than I had imagined. I speed-read these sort of non-fiction books, and don't think I miss any important details. Many non-fiction books could be reduced to 20% or so of their size.
Apr 11, 2015 Theresa rated it really liked it
This is an insightful examination into why some highly trained people fail when the pressure is on and how to decrease the possibility of it happening. Sian Beilock is a psychologist who specializes in this area and offers a thorough study of this topic including the influences of brain development, the impact of negative stereotyping and mental training (math exams) vs physical training (sports). The suggestions on how one can minimize the possibility of choking are nicely summed up at the end ...more
Jun 07, 2015 Becky rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The information presented during the first chapters was simply regurgitated throughout the remainder of the book. Also, if you have zero interest in sports and only vaguely recognize names of sport figure heads (I'm in that category), then you are going to learn quickly that sports are apparently the number one issue to which 'everyone' can relate. There were a few good suggestions smattered through the pages in regards to how to deal with anxiety during a high stress situation. Overall, I found ...more
Brad Lyerla
Jan 21, 2013 Brad Lyerla rated it liked it
After watching the Australian golfer, Adam Scott, choke horribly in the last four holes of the Open Championship and then playing horribly later that day myself (I was uncharacteristically nervous playing with new people), I decided to check out Dr. Beilock's book on "choking". It is a marvel. There is an astonishing amount of research on choking and Beilock is an able and informative author on the subject.

Her book is not focused on golf per se, but she does deal with golf in detail and I recom
Mar 15, 2013 Michael rated it liked it
A book with research in it that I wish I had had access to as a high school student. Test taking is not my forte and the essence of Choke is on how to overcome the mental obstructions that can hinder performance in pressure situations.

Based mostly upon the author's research in tandem with complementary research in sports and neuro-psychology, the biggest insight shared is how a major element of choking stems from a physiological drain on brain resources. Worrying about an act not only distracts
Mar 08, 2012 Deb rated it it was amazing
*A no-brainer*

Ever feel betrayed by your brain?

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 fam
Bill Leach
Mar 16, 2013 Bill Leach rated it really liked it
Shelves: informative
Choking is below normal performance under stress.

Chapter 1 - The Curse of Expertise
- short term knowledge is kept in the working memory in the pre-frontal cortex
- persons vary in the amount of working memory, and so their ability to carry out various tasks
- sometimes performance is inhibited when one rushes into a problem - the solution is to step back and plan the solution
- even practising under mild levels of stress can prevent you from choking when high levels of stress come around

Chapter 2 -
May 23, 2013 Winston rated it it was amazing
Choke is a detailed, convincing and riveting read. With the latest in brain-imaging technology, including fMRI scanners, scientists have been able to pinpoint, with incredible detail, the causes of choking (defined as performing less than your best). The most common affliction that has affected even sports elites such as Greg Norman (who gave up several overwhelming leads in the final round of crucial golf tournaments), is over-thinking each action. While a relatively simple task such as riding ...more

This is a new book by a University of Chicago neuroscientist who specializes in why people screw up in high-pressure situations (thus the title).

Beilock does a good job of covering the relevant science, but the book suffered from repetitiveness on her main points, giving it a strong feel of a long magazine article that had been turned into a book by padding.

Her main point: When the challenge we face is a cognitive one -- doing well on the SAT or performing well in a presentation to a group -- th
Tomas Lindqvist
Jun 21, 2012 Tomas Lindqvist rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: brain-books
This book has a lot of good content in regard to why we choke when the pressure is on and how to fight it. It's data is rooted in neurology and psycology and most of its content is supported. In my opinion most of the content in the book is very well put forward, but maybe a bit heavy on the sports side for us that do not have an interest in it.

I highly reccomend this book for anyone that wants to get a better understanding of how to avoid buckeling under when the pressure is on. This book is n
J. B. Rainsberger
May 14, 2016 J. B. Rainsberger rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found one very useful idea in this book, but it felt surrounded by a bunch of effluvium. I would definitely have preferred this as a concise pamphlet and would happily have paid $5 for it. The book felt padded with not-always-relevant attempts at case studies.

The interplay between working memory and performance gave me a model for understanding my won results, so I appreciate the author for sharing that.
Sep 01, 2015 Lawna rated it it was amazing
I really liked this book - lots of good evidence based research and narratives and lots of great things to think about. I really appreciated the section on girls and math - I found it remarkably accurate to my own experiences with math.
Aug 19, 2012 Paula rated it really liked it
I bought this book because the author spoke at a local PMI (Project Management Institute) chapter meeting, and I am a total sucker for having a book that is autographed by the author. However, this time the book itself lived up to every expectation.

Scientific analysis of why some of us do well under pressure, and others do not. Also incudes a fascinating analysis of how we live up to, or more to the point, Down to expectations of us based on gender, race and other factors.

Although some of it i
Aug 08, 2015 Yapha rated it liked it
This was our K-12 faculty summer reading book this year. It included some interesting brain science research on the two main ways people choke during high stress situations as well as some ideas for combating this.
Matthew Giobbi
Oct 17, 2015 Matthew Giobbi rated it it was ok
A lot of pages spent saying what she's going to do and very few pages actually doing it. Three chapters of redundant examples of choking? I waited for the payoff, and it never came. A real waste of time.
Sep 23, 2014 Igor rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A book that is thought provoking. And it really set me on the path of working memory. So it definitely has value ... . While learned valuable things I read here for the first time, and they are important, I felt my expectations for this book weren't entirely met.
Feb 13, 2016 Evelina rated it really liked it
Interesting book about stress impact on human brain. A lot of scientific data, some practical recommendations on how to deal with stress and prevent failure.
Rita M
Jul 02, 2014 Rita M rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
Moved a bit too slow for me. I would have preferred the condensed version. I found some of the theories interesting but description of studies tedious.
Wan Shoo
Jan 20, 2016 Wan Shoo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting and tantalising ! This book delve into the science behind choking with facts that are just nice. The book will be helpful for most people, read it!
Apr 15, 2014 Angela rated it liked it
Good info, covers some interesting research, but really could have used more editing.
Apr 17, 2011 Kasandra rated it liked it
I haven't actually read the entire book yet -- about 40% of it has been read or skim-read, for a school research project -- but from what I have read, there's some interesting research study data and material that I found interesting and surprising (like writing about your worries for ten minutes before you take a test, to help your performance). When I have more time later, I intend to go back and read the book all the way through. So far, fairly intriguing and interesting, and Beilock's writin ...more
Feb 20, 2013 Nancy rated it really liked it
3.5 Very readable distillation of interesting and practical brain research. Became a bit repetitive by the end, as if Beilock knows people may use some chapters in creating their own readings for their own fields, and my students wanted some more specifics about some of the studies she mentions. But very practical and likely a good resource for anyone with performance anxiety in education, sports, or business. Some very good information about how stereotypes (about gender or race) can affect our ...more
Nov 12, 2015 Janet rated it it was ok
Shelves: book-club-reads
Apr 18, 2015 Julian rated it it was ok
Shelves: mental-illness
The research is useful, but the book felt padded and poorly connected. It would have been more effective as a pamphlet.
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Brain Science Pod...: BSP 76: Interview with Sian Beilock, author of Choke 7 22 Aug 26, 2011 12:52PM  
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