Feeds

Eggheads solve England penalty-shootout crapness riddle

Football lab-rats in goalie fear stress cycle

Intelligent flash storage arrays

Eggheads in Exeter say they have answered one of the most important questions facing the human race today: namely, why are England footballers so rubbish at penalty shootouts, and what can be done about it.

According to Greg Wood, working towards his PhD at Exeter uni's sports-science department, it's a simple enough matter. When under severe pressure, the human brain tends to focus on things it assesses as possible threats. This means that footballers, stressed up by the fact their team is potentially about to crash out of the World Cup, tend to look at the goalie - the "threat" - more than they should. This leads them to shoot too near the middle of the goal, where a save is easier.

Wood says he has proved this by carrying out research on Exeter footballers shooting penalties while wearing eye-tracking goggles. When relaxed, test subjects didn't pay that much attention to the goalie, and their shots usually went into the outer parts of the goal - making them harder to save.

But then Wood upped the stakes. The players were told that the results would be recorded and shared with the other players and there would be a £50 prize for the best score.

At once, the footballers started looking at the goalie far too much and their shots followed the line of their gaze, tending to cluster in the middle of the net where the keeper could intercept them.

“Research shows that the optimum strategy for penalty takers to use is to pick a spot and shoot to it, ignoring the goalkeeper in the process," says Wood. "The idea that you cannot recreate the anxiety a penalty taker feels during a shootout is no excuse for not practicing. Do you think other elite performers don’t practice basic aiming shots in darts, snooker or golf for the same reasons? These skills need to be ingrained so they are robust under pressure."

Wood and his colleagues' paper, Anxiety, Attentional Control, and Performance Impairment in Penalty Kicks, can be read by subscribers to the Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology here. ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
SECRET U.S. 'SPACE WARPLANE' set to return from SPY MISSION
Robot minishuttle X-37B returns after almost 2 years in orbit
No sail: NASA spikes Sunjammer
'Solar sail' demonstrator project binned
LOHAN crash lands on CNN
Overflies Die Welt en route to lively US news vid
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
You can crunch it all you like, but the answer is NOT always in the data
Hear that, 'data journalists'? Our analytics prof holds forth
Carry On Cosmonaut: Willful Child is a poor taste Star Trek parody
Cringeworthy, crude and crass jokes abound in Steven Erikson’s sci-fi debut
Origins of SEXUAL INTERCOURSE fished out of SCOTTISH LAKE
Fossil find proves it first happened 385 million years ago
America's super-secret X-37B plane returns to Earth after nearly TWO YEARS aloft
674 days in space for US Air Force's mystery orbital vehicle
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.