Panic - prone to failure - its source and cure


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Panic - prone to failure - its source and cure

Postby utopian » Mon Oct 17, 2005 6:46 am

There have been and are ongoing studies of what to do both psychologically and physically in order to achieve success. How much has been studied about panic before events and why it leads to failure?

What is the relationship between a panic attack that can lead to defeat and an adrenaline rush that can lead to success? It seems to me they both stem from the same source.

What happens chemically? Is there something that, unlike adrenaline, puts a brake on physical activity causing the athlete to shut down?

Of the studies that exist, how authoritative are they and do they describe dependable strategies for overcoming panic?

Are you aware of people that are unable to overcome this problem and that end up giving up competition altogether, even though you are sure that, based on observed training, they should be able to achieve competitive success?
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Postby tafnut » Mon Oct 17, 2005 6:55 am

Interesting question. Clearly the chief benefit is physical/chemical, but I think the primary detriment is mental/psychological. The heightened nervous state can be channeled into explosiveness in the events that need that (everything but aerobic events). But the anxiety can defocus the individual to the point where the concentraion necessary to execute the event is lost. It's up to the individual to channel the physical benefits and ignore the destabilizing mental elements.
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Postby Pego » Mon Oct 17, 2005 7:41 am

Utopian is right that both responses are chemically similar (sympathetic nervous system). The difference is in different centers of the central nervous system being excited and/or inhibited. There might already be some studies done with PET or functional MR scanning.
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Postby trig » Mon Oct 17, 2005 9:23 am

And this is on the t&f forum, why?
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Postby MJD » Mon Oct 17, 2005 10:34 am

It's been moved but there are lost of examples of T&F athletes responding both positively and negatively to the stress referred to in this thread.
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Postby MJR » Mon Oct 17, 2005 10:50 am

Because it affects performance, at all levels, that's why. Look at how many times SFH or Steve Holman blew it in big races. Finding out why this happens and if there is a way to (legally) alter the reactions to the chemical process that create it would be a wonderful thing.
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Postby utopian » Mon Oct 17, 2005 2:31 pm

I can't recall, of course, but I thought that I put this under Current.

If it has been moved to Things Not Track and Field, it raises the issues that Daisy and I were discussing under "I hate the new look of this board."

Our remarks are still there at the end.

In short, this was prompted entirely by my experience as a coach and observer in track and field, and I don't believe that it should have been shifted.
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Postby tandfman » Mon Oct 17, 2005 2:53 pm

MJR wrote:Because it affects performance, at all levels, that's why. Look at how many times SFH or Steve Holman blew it in big races.


Interestingly, before I scrolled down to your message, I was thinking of Holman.

The original post in this thread raises interesting questions, but unfortunately, doesn't even hint at an answer. There is a reference to studies in the area, but no citations.

Pity.
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Postby Daisy » Mon Oct 17, 2005 3:50 pm

utopian wrote:In short, this was prompted entirely by my experience as a coach and observer in track and field, and I don't believe that it should have been shifted.


I concur that this is a good example of what we discussed. if people only go to the current events board then stuff like this will be missed, or, as in this case, mislaid.

I actually don't have a problem as I use the 'what has been posted since your last visit option'. In fact, now I often don't know if a thread is in historical or current etc. I realise this may not be for everyone, due to the long in issue. Pewrsonally, I use the cookie that logs me in automatically so logging in is not an issue.

Back to topic. This is very relevant to performance, in the same way that sprinters perform better when relaxed. The noticable tightening up in finals does seem to slow down times when compared with semi finals. It would be interesting to see some stats to see if that hunch is a reality.
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Postby utopian » Thu Oct 20, 2005 5:56 pm

tandfman wrote:
MJR wrote:Because it affects performance, at all levels, that's why. Look at how many times SFH or Steve Holman blew it in big races.


Interestingly, before I scrolled down to your message, I was thinking of Holman.

The original post in this thread raises interesting questions, but unfortunately, doesn't even hint at an answer. There is a reference to studies in the area, but no citations.

Pity.


There is no hint of an answer because it was entirely a question. I was hoping to find out whether anyone knew of any studies in this area.

I was the coach of a 3X national champion. In subsequent years, she usually performed well below what she had done before, although the workouts were similar and she was much stronger.

There were four notable exceptions: (1) a strong thunderstorm, which drove everyone off the track and I believe loosened her up. Now others have also noticed this phenomena, but relative to the other runners she performed well and almost equalled her PB. (2) after a poor race, there was a long wait, a lot of running around with others and general disassociation with what she was there for. Again, times that were among her best, and could have been much better, except as noted by another, if she had tried harder as in a final, it probably wouldn't have been as good. (3) and (4) Arriving late and focusing on the mistakes made in arriving late. So there was excitement and anxiety but not over the event, but over letting others down. Again, stirling performances.

Over the next 3 years, there were some good times, but never as good as when she was younger. This can't be accounted for merely by change of body shape, because she was both faster at short distances and now easily ran 8 to 12 or 13 miles fairly often. But competition with another girl in her league who could challenge her meant a collapse, particularly in XC. Her track times from 800 to 3K were better than this other girl's. However, by chance, or perhaps by plan for she was now coached in school, they never faced each other in track.

Of course, she did not race in college, but meeting her again, she says that she still runs 30 to 40 miles a week. Never injured.

For anyone looking at any of my posts, I have commented on this before. It is one of the reasons why I am not in favor of pre-H.S. track competition. For those who come up with exceptions who have developed well, I suggest that there are many many more who did not run before h.s. and did exceptionally well and there are many many more exceptional age-group runners who dropped out.

In fact, I think that the exceptions to my rule would have done just as well without the earlier training. Early training plus later success does not mean that the one caused the other. There greater number of failures would indicate that the opposite is more likely true.

Needless to say, this is not physical science. The psychological element is dominant.

To come back to my original question however. If any of you are familiar with sports psychologists, you might inquire whether or not there are any studies that see both success and failure emanating from the same psychological/adrenaline type bundle.
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Postby cullman » Fri Oct 21, 2005 1:57 am

Pego wrote:Utopian is right that both responses are chemically similar (sympathetic nervous system). The difference is in different centers of the central nervous system being excited and/or inhibited. There might already be some studies done with PET or functional MR scanning.


There have been studies that have monitored left and right brain activity. The early studies indicated that in a sport such as tennis, there was a flurry of activity in the left brain an instant before the start of a critical point in a match. In the none chokers, the brain activity would suddenly be in an arrested state and the right brain would be "normal." In the case of the "chokers", the brain would still be active to some degree.

There are many reasons why athletes continually underachieve but a lot that I have met and worked with are driven with a perfectionism that can get in the way of training and optimizing performance. In a lot of cases ego also gets in the way as some athletes choke miserably when they are challenged by what they considere an "inferior" athlete. The most competitive athletes I have met seem have an almost neurotic respect for their opponent and never underestimate them regardless of the performance gap.

I've mostly dealt with the chronic underachievers who are on their last legs and are stuck with the belief that they "lack the killer instinct" as if it is something that can't be learned. A lot of athletes don't like to hear the word "choke" but everybody does it to one degree or another. It's just a fact of life.

Also, athletes have to learn to be resourceful. Their successes and failures should be theirs and not their parents or coaches. Young kids seem to have a better attitude towards competition than a lot of adults. Kids for the most part have a short memory as to who won or lost and don't take games or sport as personally a lot of us adults.

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