Clenching the left hand in pressure situations like penalty kicks could help enhance a footballer's success, reveals new research by the University of Munich in Germany.
Scientists found skilled athletes have spent years sharpening their body into reacting with little active thought, explaining the instant kicks of the martial artist or the effortless volley of a top footballer.
However, under pressure they can begin to focus too much on their movements rather than relying on motor skills.
Researchers at the University of Munich in Germany, which is also the home of penalty shoot out masters, found that by clenching their left fist or squeezing a ball an athlete activates the right hemisphere of the brain, which is linked to automatic motor actions rather than thought.
"Rumination can interfere with concentration and performance of motor tasks," the Telegraph quoted study leader Dr Juergen Beckmann, as saying.
"Athletes usually perform better when they trust their bodies rather than thinking too much about their own actions or what their coaches told them during practice," he added.
"While it may seem counterintuitive, consciously trying to keep one's balance is likely to produce imbalance, as was seen in some sub-par performances by gymnasts during the Olympics in London," he said.
It was believed that rumination is associated with the brain's left hemisphere, while the right hemisphere is associated with superior performance in automated behaviours, such as those used by some athletes.
The right hemisphere controls movements of the left side of the body, and the left hemisphere controls the right side.
The researchers theorized that squeezing a ball or clenching the left hand would activate the right hemisphere of the brain and reduce the likelihood of the athlete's choking under pressure.