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‘Can You Compete Under Pressure?’

17th May 2012

‘Can You Compete Under Pressure?’

BBC Lab UK launches biggest ever experiment with Olympic Gold Medallist Michael Johnson

BBC Lab UK today launched its biggest ever experiment: ‘Can You Compete Under Pressure?’. Presented by Olympic legend and performance expert Michael Johnson, the experiment looks at why some people are able to perform under pressure, and why some people can't.

‘Can You Compete Under Pressure?' is a 20 minute online test with participants receiving a personal performance analysis and advice on mental preparation.  Michael also provides psychological training during the test and, using unique BBC technology, personally analyses your performance afterwards.

BBC Lab UK has worked with scientists Professors Andy Lane and Peter Totterdell to develop the test.  They want to discover the factors that enable some people to raise their game at crucial moments and are using a combination of psychometric questions and a specially developed game to monitor performance.

Michael Johnson said: “I think we’ll find that most people either naturally have the ability to deal with pressure or they don’t, but most people don’t understand that they actually can train, that they can become better and improve themselves in that area.

“I think that everyone has to deal with pressure situations.  Since I’ve retired I’m still under pressure because of the things I want to do, my goals.  In order to deal with that and be more successful in achieving my goals I have to continue to learn how to deal with pressure, so I think it could help anyone who’s in a situation, and everyone is at some point, to deal with pressure.”

The test can be accessed at: www.bbc.co.uk/compete.  Anyone over the age of 16 interested in their ability to perform under pressure, from playing sport at the weekend, to work, exams or giving a best man’s speech, can log-in and take part.

They’ll be asked to fill-in some details around their background (such as education, numbers of brothers and sisters and whether they prefer team or individual sports) and their emotions and how well they control them.  They’ll then be asked to try ‘The Grid’, a scientifically designed game which measures how people react to different kinds of pressure.

They’ll then receive a piece of psychological training from Michael Johnson (all training was developed from existing training systems and written by the scientists).  The scientists will then analyse the differences between how people perform before and after the training, in comparison to the control group – who’ll receive no training, just a short word of encouragement from Michael Johnson.

Simon Munn (wheelchair basketball), Dai Greene (World 400m hurdles champion) and Tiffany Porter (GB 100m hurdler) also feature, helping illustrate the mental processes top athletes go through to ensure top performance.

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