At certain moments in the game, the player experiences overwhelming fear, enormous pressure, and unbearable tension. The outcome of the game is at stake and the player feels that he is required to perform at his best, or all will be lost.
At this stage of the game, some are hailed as heroes and some are said to have “frozen” or “choked.”
How does a game have the power to produce a physiological response almost identical to that which occurs in a true life and death situation?
A person’s perception is his reality. If a situation is perceived as life and death, the physiological response will mirror those of life and death.
And when a game is perceived as life and death, the game is no longer a game.
If such feelings are unacceptable to you, you must explore what the game means to you. You must define why it is that you play.
If a win produces elation, you may wish to examine what it is you have won. If a loss produces despair, you may wish to examine what you believe you have lost.
Do you truly believe that a trophy, a cup, or some clever mix of steel and plastic has the power to incite such an intense physiological response?
Is it about the trophy? Or is it something else?
Is it about the ranking? Or is it something deeper?
Freezing in what is perceived to be the critical moment in a game is a response to overwhelming fear.
For such a fear to arise, something enormously valuable must be at stake.
If you feel such a fear, I assure you that the game you are afraid to lose is not the one you think you are playing.
Kapil Gupta, M.D