Live chat replay

How thinking like an athlete can help at work and school

Professor Kathleen Martin Ginis joined CBC hamilton for a live chat at noon on Monday February 10 about what makes star athletes shine in stressful situations. Listen to the interview on this page.
Join CBC Hamilton and McMaster University professor Kathleen Martin Ginis on Monday at noon for a live chat on how star athletes and everyday people can perform better when it matters the most. 29:51
Dr. Kathleen Martin Ginis is a professor, health and exercise psychology at McMaster University. (Ron Scheffler/McMaster University)

The Sochi Olympic Games are finally here, and the eyes of the world are upon the athletes competing for gold. Some will thrive, and others will struggle.

Join CBC Hamilton and McMaster University professor Kathleen Martin Ginis on Monday at noon for a live chat on how star athletes and everyday people can perform better when it matters the most.

Martin Ginis is the director of the McMaster Physical Activity Centre of Excellence. She will share insight into why some athletes and performers shine when the game is on the line, while others buckle under the stress.

Martin Ginis will also offer helpful tips on how you can overcome pressure — whether on the golf course or in the boardroom — to achieve your best performance.

Did You Know?

• Psychologists have studied the phenomenon of "choking" — performing poorly while under intense pressure. It happens, studies have found, to the most accomplished of athletes. A Michigan State University psychologist has done studies on golfers suggesting they get in trouble if they concentrate too much on a particular action. Training can help athletes overcome the problem, Sian Beilock said.

• An experiment by Debbie Crews, a researcher at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., suggested that the brain patterns of chokers and non-chokers may differ. Electrodes placed on golfers' brains indicated that in chokers the left side — the analytical, logical part — appeared to interfere with the right side during the important activity. The right side controls spatial relations, balance and timing. In the brains of people who did better under pressure, the left side was quiet during the important task, Crews said.

• Ken Read was a World Cup alpine ski champion. He led the "Crazy Canucks", as Canada's top skiers were known, from 1974 to 1983. Read had gold medal hopes at the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, N.Y., but lost a ski at the top of the hill. He also failed to win a medal in 1976.

• Brian Orser won two Olympic silver medals in figure skating. That second one came after a memorable duel with American skater Brian Boitano at the 1988 Games. Ann Peel was an internationally ranked race walker with many titles and medals. She was left off the roster of athletes who went to the 1992 Summer Games in Barcelona, a decision she unsuccessfully appealed.

• Dr. Bob Goldman, author of Death in the Locker Room: Drugs and Sports, told the Associated Press in 2003 that, over the years, he has asked groups of world-class athletes if they would take a magic pill that would let them win every competition for five years but then kill them. Consistently, more than half the athletes have said they'd take the pill, Goldman said.

Joannie Rochette still moved by Mike Babcock's 2010 advice

Four years later, Canadian figure skater Joannie Rochette doesn’t remember exact words from Canadian hockey coach Mike Babcock, but she was touched at his message, his support, his compassion and thoughtfulness at the Vancouver Olympics.

Rochette lost her 55-year-old mother Therese to a heart attack while in Vancouver a couple days prior to her competition. She was 24 at the time.

Babcock, head coach of the Detroit Red Wings and Team Canada, has a background in sport psychology.

Babcock has a bachelor of education and post-graduate diploma in sport psychology from McGill University. He began his coaching career as a 24-year-old player/coach for the Whitley Warriors in England.