Performance under Pressure on the Court: Evidence from Professional Volleyball

31 Pages Posted: 18 Jan 2019

See all articles by Viktor Bozhinov

Viktor Bozhinov

University of Mainz, Gutenberg School of Economics and Management

Nora Grote

Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz - Gutenberg School of Management and Economics

Date Written: December 20, 2018

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 under- performance under pressure. When performance outcomes are not defined binary even slight performance decrements can have huge consequences for future career. To study the conse- quences 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 af- fect 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. Strength- ening 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

JEL Classification: D91, J24, L830

Suggested Citation

Bozhinov, Viktor and Grote, Nora, Performance under Pressure on the Court: Evidence from Professional Volleyball (December 20, 2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3312153 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3312153

Viktor Bozhinov (Contact Author)

University of Mainz, Gutenberg School of Economics and Management ( email )

Jakob-Welder-Weg 4
Mainz, DE 55128
Germany

Nora Grote

Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz - Gutenberg School of Management and Economics

Germany

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