By NR Staff • 

Lecture looks at athletic stress

Underperformance under stress is common in artistic, academic and athletic performance, Ilundain-Agurruza said.

Examples are particularly evident in sport’s “choking” effect — a failure to perform to levels already achieved when the person tries to be at his or her best. For instance, he said, Rory McIlroy “disintegrated” at the 2011 U.S. Masters, while Greg Norman lost badly in 1996.

On the other end of the spectrum, Mark Spitz and Michael Phelps thrived under media pressure to deliver record-breaking performances at the Olympics, Ilundáin-Agurruza said. They are examples of performers who excel when “on the spot.”

As a way to supplement current psychological and cognitive theoretical research, Ilundáin-Agurruza will discuss an alternative philosophical account to combat choking. It diagnoses the process, and contrasts it with cases of superior performances analyzed under “skillful fluency.”

He said the solution is derived from Japanese “do” — arts of self-cultivation, such as the way of archery or the way of tea. Those arts encourage an integration of body and mind, intellect and emotion, which helps achieve skillful fluency.

“The efficacy of this method was vetted in life and death duels where anxiety would result in a deadly outcome,” he said. “This may lend a helping and calming hand to those of us who get the jitters when we are about to putt, do a few intense laps or speak in public.”

Ilundáin-Agurruza has been a member of the Linfield faculty since 2006. He holds a B.S. in philosophy from the University of Wisconsin at Oshkosh, an M.A. in philosophy and M.S. in sociology of sport from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and a Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

The Linfield College faculty lecture series offers one presentation each month by a member of the Linfield faculty. For more information, call 503-883-2409.

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