How not to choke

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 04, 2005

In this interview on ESPN.com, Malcolm Gladwell offers his view on the upcoming Super Bowl and how the lessons of his most recent book, Blink, might apply. My favorite suggestion relates to training quarterbacks to deal with stressful situations:

I'd run them through a live-fire exercise at Quantico. I'd have them spend the offseason working with a trauma team in south-central L.A. It is only through repeated exposures to genuine stress that our body learns how to function effectively under that kind of pressure. I think its time we realized that a quarterback needs the same kind of exhaustive preparation for combat that we give bodyguards and soldiers.

Field goal kickers could benefit from this as well. And poor 4th quarter free throw shooters.

Earlier in the interview, Gladwell supposes that "Joe Montana's heart rate barely got above 100 in any of his fourth-quarter comebacks." I remember reading about a study where researchers hooked heart monitors up to various NASCAR drivers while they took practice laps around the track. The drivers' heart rates were slow and steady in the straightaways and increased markedly in the turns due to stress. All except for Jeff Gordon...his heart rate remained slow and steady all the way around the track.

Thanks to Jorge for the link.