05 Jul Clutch Performance is a Myth
Now I know it sounds kind of weird at first because you think of Michael Jordan and Tom Brady or Sidney Crosby; where the game’s on the line and they must deliver the touchdown, must deliver the pass or the shot to win the game and they somehow do.
However, I’m here to tell you that clutch performances are a myth.
Now before you lynch me or string me up, follow me here, because I love Michael Jordan. I do! I’m a huge fan but understand when the pressure was on, his performance actually went down.
Here’s what I mean. A study was done by some researchers looking at all the basketball players in the NBA. They studied everyone from the all-star players to the bench warmer players, to see how their performance changed when they were under pressure. They looked specifically at their foul shots. In other words, standing at the foul line, free throws.
When the game was a quite a difference like say 20 points or 15 points, the players felt no pressure and their shots were fine. However, when the team was down by one point and that foul shot meant tying the game, their performance dropped. This happened to all players over three years.
What does that mean?
That means when the pressure was on, their performance decreased. Including the lovely, wonderful and amazing Michael Jordan. So, how was it possible that he would hit the game-winning shot? Or as we all remember the game six against Utah with his famous shot over Russell, how was that possible?
The thing is, if you want to be better in the clutch, you have to practice in the clutch.
A study was done in London, England, with the black cab drivers. If you’ve not been to London, the infrastructure there is quite messy, it’s like a maze. Unlike Manhattan or Toronto where it’s like a grid where driving around is somewhat logical. In London it’s literally like a maze … It’s just crazy.
So, these black cab drivers have to figure out how to remember how to quickly get around everywhere. Also, the company will only hire people who are great at spatial awareness. And they are actually tested to make sure that they are good at it.
The researchers decided okay, we’re going to look at these guys. Let’s look at their brain, do a a brain scan and see what’s going on. What they found was this. They found the part in the brain responsible for spatial awareness was actually larger in these London cab drivers. In fact, the more they drove cabs in London, the more they practiced in the clutch, the bigger this part of the brain got.
What am I saying?
If you want to be good under pressure, if you want to be good in the clutch, you have to practice and play in the clutch. Which means, when you’re at work and a challenging assignment is coming up, don’t shy away, take the shot. When there’s a nice, beautiful man or beautiful woman in front of you and you want to ask them out, don’t shy away, take the shot.
The more times you practice in the clutch, the better you get. Isn’t it true?
Think about MJ, I love Michael. He’s amazing. When the pressure was on, he’ll tell you, he missed more shots. His performance went down. But he took more shots in that position, in that clutch moment, which made him great, which made him better under pressure.
So, If you want to perform better under pressure, take more shots in the clutch. Put yourself out there and you will definitely find a way to win