Male athletes are far more likely to choke under competitive pressure than their female counterparts, researchers have said.
“Our research showed that men consistently choke under competitive pressure, but with regard to women the results are mixed,” said Mosi Rosenboim of Ben-Gurion University in Beersheba, Israel.
“However, even if women show a drop in performance in the more crucial stages of the match, it is still about 50 per cent less than that of men,” Rosenboim added.
According to the researchers, stress influenced by an onset of heightened cortisol levels is one of the possible culprits.
Previous studies have already shown that high amounts of cortisol correlate with poor second serves in tennis and worse golf performance, the researchers said.
“The study indicates that in response to achievement challenges, cortisol levels increase more rapidly among men than among women, and that high levels can harm the mind’s critical abilities,” explained Offer Moshe Shapir of New York University in Shanghai, China.
For the study, published in journal Researchgate, the researchers analysed game-level tennis data of 4,127 women’s and 4,153 men’s tennis games of all four Grand Slam tournaments in 2010
They examined, within each tennis match, whether and how much each gender deteriorated or improved at crucial stages of the match.