Feeds

Eggheads solve England penalty-shootout crapness riddle

Football lab-rats in goalie fear stress cycle

Top three mobile application threats

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. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
KILLER SPONGES menacing California coastline
Surfers are safe, crustaceans less so
Opportunity selfie: Martian winds have given the spunky ol' rover a spring cleaning
Power levels up 70 per cent as the rover keeps on truckin'
LOHAN and the amazing technicolor spaceplane
Our Vulture 2 livery is wrapped, and it's les noix du mutt
Liftoff! SpaceX Falcon 9 lifts Dragon on third resupply mission to ISS
SpaceX snaps smartly into one-second launch window
KILLER ROBOTS, DNA TAMPERING and PEEPING CYBORGS: the future looks bright!
Americans optimistic about technology despite being afraid of EVERYTHING
R.I.P. LADEE: Probe smashes into lunar surface at 3,600mph
Swan dive signs off successful science mission
Discovery time for 200m WONDER MATERIALS shaved from 4 MILLENNIA... to 4 years
Alloy, Alloy: Boffins in speed-classification breakthrough
prev story

Whitepapers

SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.