Anxiety, Attentional Control, and Performance Impairment in Penalty Kicks

Anxiety, Attentional Control, and Performance Impairment in Penalty Kicks

This article focuses on the impact of stress on penalty kicking. The author of this paper demonstrates the action of attention control theory, that finds a broad application in a sporting environment, where some of the kicks struck by the players goes in the unanticipated directions. The influence that anxiety has in a performance in a sporting activity continues to play a significant interest to the psychologist, who have linked some of the emotional responses to the external manifestation, in this case, kicking the ball.

With the ever-increasing appreciation of the sporting activities in the world, the demand for excellent performance is laid on the players, who are viewed as experts by the participants. The significance of this study is to explain, why in some instances the players miss the shots, by emphasizing the link between attention control and anxiety.

The recent study conducted by Wilson et al. (2009) illustrated that anxiety affected attention control. These two aspects are the determinant of the nature of performance in a sporting activity, hence the need to evaluate their relationship. The purpose of this study is to explore the attention control theory and other models that have similar or dissimilar arguments regarding the issue of attention control. Furthermore, the article highlights the assumptions placed across by the proposer of the theory and the concepts of other researchers that argued against the case. The central idea of this paper streams from the need to address the commonly witnessed failures in the sporting activities, where the individual tends to tense when given a chance to kick a free kick or a penalty. It serves to explain the connection of the portrayed behavior, to the perceived images in the brain, which contributes to missing the target.

The design is described by Wilson et al. (2009) as the standard procedure that is adopted by a researcher to test the hypotheses. It is,therefore, a sequential method of events, that enables in collecting the data for analysis. In this case, the participants were divided into two groups, and subjected to low and high-pressure conditions, in a repeated measures design. Both groups were supposed to score the penalties, little information was availed to them, and they were instructed to do their best to score. In the case of high pressure, the participants were promised 50 euros for the best scorer, and they were informed that the performance was to be tracked by a computer algorithm. They were observed separately in the process.

To begin the process stated above, the sampled participants comprised of fourteen male university footballers, who were aged between 18-22 years. Also, they had experience of 8-16 years. Likewise, all the fourteen were right-footed and had normal vision. To ensure that the outcome of participation was not biased, they were requested to sign a consent form, to agree to voluntarily engage in the study. The findings of the research confirmed that there was a significant difference in scoring, between the high threat condition and low-threat environment. In situations where the threat was imposed, shots were placed close to the center of the goal than those in low threat conditions. The implication of this study affirms that experienced footballer looks at the goalkeeper much earlier, hence creating tension that destabilizes their attention, therefore leading to loss of control.

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