Sometimes athletes over-think the situation while performing. Why does over-thinking in high level athletes often lead to decreased athletic performance? Dr. Adam Lawson, Cognitive Neuroscientist, offers the following explanation.
Much of the brain can be divided into conscious controlled and automatic systems, with conscious controlled systems being focused on handling new or unusual challenges while automatic systems are best able to quickly and efficiently act on well learned acts. Practice, whether a sport or an intellectual ability, allows for the transfer of tasks from conscious controlled to automatic systems. The advantage of utilizing these automatic systems is that they are very good at repeating an action over and over again. Sometimes, our conscious and automatic systems become a hindrance, however, because two systems trying to control one body does not work very well. In the case of intellectual tasks, our conscious awareness of two competing thoughts (one automatic and one conscious controlled) can lead to the indecisiveness we call over-thinking.