Originally Posted by MWM
And well said, that "clutch" is too broad a term to use across the board for every motor skill involved in baseball.
Consider that the pitcher is the only player on the field who actually initiates the action. The play doesn't start until he does. Everyone else is in reactive mode. He's the initiator.
The mindset behind pitching is very similar to golf. You imagine the action you're about to initiate, and you start the play. If you're prone to mental distractions or negative thinking/visualization, you're in big trouble.
Hitting and fielding is reactive in nature. Similar to return of serve in tennis. You are waiting for someone else to start the play, and reacting rather than initiating. Good fielders go over their responsibilities before the play starts, then shift to visual thinking as the play starts.
Hitters do the same. Good hitters, to varying degrees, think about what the pitcher might throw, then shift to visual thinking, totally reactive and non-verbal thinking. If they're engaged in internal dialogue when the pitch starts, they're doomed.
Choke is too broad a term to encompass all these motor skills and the thought process involved in each.
The ability to quickly shift between linear thinking and internal dialogue analysis to non-linear awareness is a key skill that's not talked about much. In fact, many great athletes do this and could never engage in a discussion about it... they just do it and don't realize the dichotomy between the two.