Think Ahead to Avoid Paying the Penalty; They Are Thrilling, but Often Unfair - and the World Cup 2014 Has Seen Plenty of Penalty Shoot-Outs. Bangor University's Lecturer of Psychology Stuart Beattie and Lecturer of Motor Control and Learning Gavin Lawrence Look at How Players Can Prepare for the Dreaded Decider. This Essay First Appeared on Academic and Research Community Theconversation.Com
The dreaded, game-deciding penalty shootouts have begun. After 120 minutes of physically and emotionally draining play, players must line up and one by one take the goalie on from the spot.
Heroes and villains are made with penalties, and anyone watching - whether or not they're supporting one of the teams involved - would sympathise with the players involved. Since the 1982 World Cup, which was hosted by Spain, 22 matches have been decided on penalty kicks.
For the record, Germany has won all their penalty shoot-outs since that time (1982, 1986, 1990, and 2006).
In stark contrast, England have lost all of theirs (1990, 1998, and 2006), so perhaps a consolation of not making it through the group stages is not having to face that trauma again.
For those with it all to come though, what does sport science research suggest footballers can do to prepare for the penalty shoot-out? e training footballers receive should not only enable them to perform sporting tasks to a high standard, but also train them to deal with high pressure situations.
Our research suggests that providing specic mental toughness programmes and training under conditions of anxiety may help to prepare footballers for such high pressure scenarios.
We found that elite cricketers who were described as being "mentally tough" by their coaches were more aware of the prospect of negative repercussions from under-performing.
ese athletes look for threats that could lead to repercussions and deal with them far in advance than their less mentally tough counterparts.
In other words, their natural character trait gave them the edge through an inbuilt "early threat detection system".
is enabled them to set in motion coping strategies in order to deal with such threats early and as a result, they performed better under stress. Great for those players, but can we apply this understanding to help those without this natural tendency? Yes, and counterintuitively the answer is to make athletes more sensitive to threat.
Cognitive anxiety is a wellknown precursor to poor performance, but this is exactly what we need to induce.
In a two-year applied intervention programme to improve mental toughness, the elite cricketers were told they would have to perform forfeits like having to wash the team's kit or serve breakfast for failure during pressured training scenarios.
e players were made aware of the likely punishments prior to every pressure scenario, along with clear instructions about what constituted the failure. …