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Mind Games, Ep. 1: “Clutch”

Episode one breaks down the concept of being 'clutch' in athletics; where the phenomenon began, what makes an athlete 'clutch,' and if it really even matters. (Northern Review illustration/ Grant Pepper)

This spring, Northern Review sports editor Grant Pepper spoke with sport psychologists and Ohio Northern athletes to try to explain some of the most unexplainable phenomena in sports. This podcast series, 'Mind Games,' takes a deep dive into the mental side of athletics -- because in reality, in almost every sport, most of the game is played above the shoulders.

The first episode of this four-part series looks at the concept of being ‘clutch,’ which is often viewed as one of the highest praises an athlete can receive. Typically, however, being ‘clutch’ is thought of as a physical attribute. It’s the athlete who can physically hit the buzzer-beater or nail the walk-off home run. But as this podcast explains, most of being ‘clutch’ is mental.

Sport psychologist Dr. Steve Graef (Ohio State University), sport psychology professor Dr. Jean-Charles Lebeau (Ball State University) and ONU athletes Hailee Loughman (softball) and T.J. Storer (baseball) broke down what it means to be clutch, why certain athletes come through in the big moments and others don’t, and if being ‘clutch’ really even matters.