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Performance under Pressure on the Court: Evidence from Professional Volleyball

Viktor Bozhinov () and Nora Grote ()
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Viktor Bozhinov: Johannes Gutenberg University
Nora Grote: Johannes Gutenberg University

No 1901, Working Papers from Gutenberg School of Management and Economics, Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

Abstract: This study analyzes how psychological pressure affects performance. It refers to the discussion on differences between choking, i.e., an acute performance decline under pressure and underperformance under pressure. When performance outcomes are not defined binary even slight performance decrements can have huge consequences for future career. To study the consequences of psychological pressure on performance, we employ data on the serving performance of 213 professional volleyball athletes in 226 matches. We do not find any evidence for the existence of severe performance decrements under pressure (i.e. choking). However, athletes serve less effectively under pressure, i.e., they serve less direct points and less good serves. In consequence, we find that these subtler performance changes of serving players negatively affect overall team performance. Thus, we show that even if choking in the sense of an acute failure does not occur, performance decrements harming team production exist. This might be explained by single team members trying to avoid being held responsible for failure. Strengthening group cohesion to reduce psychological pressure on single group members might be a fruitful strategy to cope with similar problems in other working environments.

Keywords: performance; psychological pressure; choking; underperformance; volleyball (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D91 J24 L83 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-spo
Date: 2019-01-01
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https://download.uni-mainz.de/RePEc/pdf/Discussion_Paper_1901.pdf First version, 2019 (application/pdf)

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