“HOW THE BODY KNOWS ITS MIND has helpful insights for everyone. It is a must-have in your home.”

Choke: What the Secrets of the Brain Reveal About Getting It Right When You Have To

By Sian Leah Beilock

It happens to all of us. You’ve prepared for days, weeks, even years for the big day when you will finally show your stuff—in academics, in your career, in sports—but when the big moment arrives, nothing seems to work. You hit the wrong note, drop the ball, get stumped by a simple question. In a word, you choke. It’s not fun to think about, but now there’s good news: This doesn’t have to happen.

Dr. Sian Beilock reveals the astonishing new science of why we all too often blunder when the stakes are high. What happens in our brain and body when we experience the dreaded performance anxiety? And what are we doing differently when everything magically “clicks” into place and the perfect golf swing, tricky test problem, or high-pressure business pitch become easy? In an energetic tour of the latest brain science, with surprising insights on every page, Beilock explains the inescapable links between body and mind; reveals the surprising similarities among the ways performers, students, athletes, and business people choke; and shows how to succeed brilliantly when it matters most.

In lively prose and accessibly rendered science, Beilock sheds new light on counterintuitive realities, like why the highest performing people are most susceptible to choking under pressure, why we may learn foreign languages best when we’re not paying attention, why early childhood athletic training can backfire, and how our emotions can make us both smarter and dumber. All these fascinating findings about academic, athletic, and creative intelligence come together in Beilock’s new ideas about performance under pressure—and her secrets to never choking again. Whether you’re at the Olympics, in the boardroom, or taking the SAT, Beilock’s clear, prescriptive guidance shows how to remain cool under pressure—the key to performing well when everything’s on the line.

Buy Choke: What the Secrets of the Brain Reveal About Getting It Right When You Have To on Indie Bound.

Buy Choke: What the Secrets of the Brain Reveal About Getting It Right When You Have To on Amazon.

What the critics say about CHOKE

“Readable explanations for why we choke and valuable suggestions for what we can do to get through a make-or-break moment with a better chance of success.”

Wall Street Journal

“If you aspire to be cool under maximum pressure (and who doesn’t?), Beilock offers smart tips such as practicing under pressure and “pausing the choke” by walking away from the problem for a few minutes in order to think clearly.”

Time Magazine

“Top 5 Business Title”

The Washington Post (On Leadership)

“Recommended Read”

Worth Magazine

“Notable Read”

Scientific American

Choke is “a must read for golfers.”


“A kind of queen of choke…, she has spent much of her time exposing and exploring mechanisms [of choking]. Her labs include a putting room where she can find a way to make virtually anyone screw up putts that were easy just moments before. ‘Choking is so clearly mental.’ says Beilock. ‘It’s a lot more complicated than just ‘Don’t think about it.’
There are chokes that rise not from overthinking but from poor thinking. She offers evidence both anecdotal and experimental. Faulty thinking amounts to a different sort of choke: a disruption of quick but vital data-checks, calculations, and recalibrations–a failure of cognition… Call it a cognichoke.
[Her work] is a vision of athletic performance both alluring and daunting. Sports start to look a lot more like real life – and much more demanding.”


“Sian Beilock offers a fascinating look into the science of why so many of us collapse under pressure. Whether you want to raise your test score or lower your golf score, Beilock provides a toolbox of techniques and strategies that can short-circuit anxiety and turn high-pressure situations to your advantage.”

Daniel H. Pink, author of DRIVE AND A WHOLE NEW MIND

“Do you want to hit better shots on the golf course? Score higher on the SAT? Get less nervous before speaking in public? In this marvelous book, Sian Beilock will tell you how, as she reveals the mental secrets to performing under pressure.”

Jonah Lehrer, author of How We Decide and Proust Was a Neuroscientist

“Choke is an important, fascinating book. Everyone who is looking for optimal performance would benefit from reading it and implementing its principles.”

Daniel G. Amen, MD, Author of Change Your Brain, Change Your Body

“When do we thrive under pressure? When is it better to stop thinking about what we are doing and simply do it? This informative book teaches us when less can be more, in sports, in exams, and other areas where performance under stress is critical. Its engaging real-world examples offer the reader a wealth of useful and challenging insights into how our brain functions when the heat is on.”

Gerd Gigerenzer, author of Gut Feelings: The Intelligence of the Unconscious

“A wonderful exploration of what happens inside when you choke on the outside. Essential for anyone who has, or plans, to compete, and especially for those who have choked.”

Andrew Newberg, M.D., co-author of How God Changes Your Brain and Born to Believe

“Choke is required reading for anyone who has to perform under pressure. Beilock takes you on a riveting tour of the science of success, with an insider’s insights into what it means for the real-world challenges of business, sports, and education. Beilock gives you the tools to make your brain choke-proof and rise to any challenge.”

Kelly McGonigal, PhD, author of Yoga for Pain Relief and The Science of Willpower

“Dr. Sian Belock is one of the world’s leading researchers in human performance. In her book Choke, she explains with great insight the scientific underpinnings involved in individual triumph and failure–whether these take place in the world of sports, academics or business. The reader arrives at a rich understanding of why and when people choke and more importantly how to achieve one’s best in the competitive world. Choke is destined to be a classic in the world of human performance and is a must read for those who seek excellence in all domains of life.”

Michael Lardon M.D., Sport Psychiatrist and author of Finding Your Zone: Ten Core Lessons for Achieving Peak Performance in Sports and Life

How the Body Knows Its Mind: The Surprising Power of the Physical Environment to Influence How You Think and Feel

By Sian Leah Beilock

If you’ve ever gestured your hands wildly in order to yank a word off the tip of your tongue, or if you’ve sat up straighter in a meeting to feel more confident and alert, then you already know some of the ways the body can impact the mind. But what if that’s just the tip of the iceberg? In fact, recent research shows that the extent to which the body affects the brain is greater than we’d ever imagined – revealing extraordinary ways you can use your body to improve your mind and your performance in all areas of life.

We often think of the brain as the master control center – interpreting experiences, deciding what to do, and pulling the levers of the body. Sian Beilock, a leading expert on the brain science behind human performance and professor in the psychology department at the University of Chicago, turns our understanding of the mind upside down in How the Body Knows Its Mind. As far as your brain is concerned, there isn’t much of a line between what happens in your body and what happens in your mind and in fact, our bodies actually hack our brains. The way we move affects our thoughts, our decisions, our preferences. Kids absorb more when they use their bodies as a learning tool. Called “embodied cognition,” this new science illuminates the power of the body and its physical surroundings to shape how we think, feel, and behave: Pacing around the room can enhance creativity; walking in nature boosts concentration skills; Botox users experience less depression; fit children score higher on tests in school.

From the tricks used by advertisers to the ways body language can improve your memory to how to master public speaking, Beilock explains a wealth of fascinating interconnections between mind and body and shows how mastering them can make us happier, safer, and more successful.

Buy How the Body Knows Its Mind: The Surprising Power of the Physical Environment to Influence How You Think and Feel on Indie Bound.

Buy How the Body Knows Its Mind: The Surprising Power of the Physical Environment to Influence How You Think and Feel on Amazon.

What the critics say about HOW THE BODY KNOWS ITS MIND

“HOW THE BODY KNOWS ITS MIND has helpful insights for everyone. It is a must-have in your home.”

Larry King, host of Larry King Live on CNN

“Sian Beilock’s book will give you a new appreciation of your body and its role in your thought, language, psychological make-up, and behavior. And it’s a joy to read!”

George Lakoff, Professor of Psychology, University of California at Berkeley, and author of Don’t Think of An Elephant!

“How often do you read a book that is profound and also fun — or that is full of surprises, but that also gives you that pleasant jolt of immediate recognition? Do a big favor for your body and your mind. Read Beilock’s terrific book as soon as you can!”

Cass R. Sunstein, Robert Walmsley University Professor, Harvard University, and coauthor of Nudge

“How the Body Knows Its Mind is the best kind of psychology book: Grounded in rigorous research and intensely practical. Dr. Beilock presents a fascinating romp through the latest science on embodied cognition, a new field challenging the classic notion that the body and mind are separate. In fact, as she shows in this compelling book, the two are inextricably intertwined. Best of all is the scientifically grounded advice on everything from helping kids learn better to becoming a happier person. This is a book that will both expand your mind and make your life better.”

Jean Twenge, Professor of Psychology, San Diego State University, and author of Generation Me

“How the Body Knows the Mind is a tour de force that teaches us the revolutionary new science of how our own physical interaction with the world around us strongly influences our ability to learn and perform. I highly recommend it.”

Michael Lardon, M.D., Author of Mastering Golf's Mental Game and Finding Your Zone.

“How the Body Knows its Mind has helpful insights for everyone. It is a must-have in your home.”

Larry King, host of Larry King Live on CNN

“How the Body Knows its Mind is a journey in the direction less traveled: from body to brain, rather than the reverse, illuminating the surprising ways that our physical actions can change our minds. From “laughter yoga,” to Botox as a treatment for depression, to the importance of finger dexterity for learning math, Beilock charts a wondrous tour through the mind-body connection.”

David Epstein, author of The Sports Gene

“Until now, the fascinating new science of ’embodied cognition’ has been known only to a handful of researchers. Sian Beilock shares the insights of this exciting field with the rest of us. Through vivid stories and clear explanations, Beilock reveals how our bodies shape our thoughts and actions in surprising and compelling ways. It’s rare to find a first-class scientist who is also a first-class writer; Beilock, lucky for us, is both.”

Annie Murphy Paul, author of Origins and Brilliant: The New Science of Smart

“Creativity expert Sir Ken Robinson once lamented that academics look upon their bodies as “a way of getting their heads to meetings.” But as Sian Beilock illustrates in her brilliant new book, the rest of us are making the same mistake – not realizing the profound impact that our physical experiences have on how effectively we think, how we present ourselves, and how motivated we feel. In our quests to be more successful and influential, as well as happier and healthier, nothing has been so overlooked as the way we can use our own bodies and our environments to reach those goals. This book is life-changing. Read it now.”

Heidi Grant Halvorson, Ph.D. Associate Director of Columbia Business School's Motivation Science Center, author of Nine Things Successful People Do Differently.

“A very interesting and useful book. I recommend it to you!”

Carol Dweck, Stanford University Professor and author of Mindset

“Insightful, informative, and beautifully written, HOW THE BODY KNOWS ITS MIND is a smart surprise that you won’t want to miss!”

Dan Gilbert, Harvard University Professor and author of Stumbling On Happiness