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Florian Müller, Jonathan F. Best and Rouwen Cañal-Bruland

I did not volunteer to take the penalty. Nobody does. It is roulette, but you have to accept that before you step up to take the penalty.—Clarence Seedorf, Former Dutch soccer player 1 Penalty shots and penalty shootouts are among the most nerve-wracking moments in soccer matches for fans and

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Geir Jordet and Esther Hartman

The purpose of this study was to examine the relationships between shot valence, avoidance behavior, and performance in soccer penalty shootouts. Video analyses were conducted with all penalty shootouts ever held in the World Cup, the European Championships, and the UEFA Champions League (n = 36 shootouts, 359 kicks). Shot valence was assessed from the potential consequences of a shot outcome as follows: Shots where a goal instantly leads to victory were classified as positive valence shots and shots where a miss instantly leads to loss as negative valence shots. Avoidance behavior was defined as looking away from the goalkeeper or preparing the shot quickly (thus speeding up the wait). The results showed that avoidance behavior occurred more with negative valence shots than with positive shots and that players with negative valence shots performed worse than those with positive shots. Thus, avoidance motivation may help explain why professional athletes occasionally choke under pressure.

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Philip Furley, Matt Dicks and Daniel Memmert

In the present article, we investigate the effects of specific nonverbal behaviors signaling dominance and submissiveness on impression formation and outcome expectation in the soccer penalty kick situation. In Experiment 1, results indicated that penalty takers with dominant body language are perceived more positively by soccer goalkeepers and players and are expected to perform better than players with a submissive body language. This effect was similar for both video and point-light displays. Moreover, in contrast to previous studies, we found no effect of clothing (red vs. white) in the video condition. In Experiment 2, we used the implicit association test to demonstrate that dominant body language is implicitly associated with a positive soccer player schema whereas submissive body language is implicitly associated with a negative soccer player schema. The implications of our findings are discussed with reference to future implications for theory and research in the study of person perception in sport.

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Mark R. Wilson, Greg Wood and Samuel J. Vine

The current study sought to test the predictions of attentional control theory (ACT) in a sporting environment. Fourteen experienced footballers took penalty kicks under low- and high-threat counterbalanced conditions while wearing a gaze registration system. Fixations to target locations (goalkeeper and goal area) were determined using frame-by-frame analysis. When anxious, footballers made faster first fixations and fixated for significantly longer toward the goalkeeper. This disruption in gaze behavior brought about significant reductions in shooting accuracy, with shots becoming significantly centralized and within the goalkeeper’s reach. These findings support the predictions of ACT, as anxious participants were more likely to focus on the “threatening” goalkeeper, owing to an increased influence of the stimulus-driven attentional control system.

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Henning Plessner and Tilmann Betsch

In a study on penalty decisions in soccer, 115 participants made decisions as referees for each of 20 videotaped scenes from an actual match. In three scenes, defenders committed potential fouls in their penalty area. The first two scenes involved the same team and the third scene occurred in the opposite penalty area. Consistent with the assumption that judges’ initial decisions have an impact on later decisions, we found a negative correlation between participants’ successive penalty decisions concerning the same team, and a positive correlation between successive penalty decisions concerning first one and then the opposing team.

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John van der Kamp

This study investigated whether soccer penalty-takers can exploit predictive information from the goalkeeper’s actions. Eight low- and seven high-skilled participants kicked balls in a penalty task with the goalkeeper’s action displayed on a large screen. The goalkeeper initiated his dive either before, at or after the ball was struck. The percentage of balls shot to the empty half of the goal was not above chance when the participants could only rely on predictive information. Gaze patterns suggested that the need to fixate the target location to maintain aiming accuracy hindered perceptual anticipation. It is argued that penalty-takers should select a target location in advance of the run-up to the ball and disregard the goalkeeper’s actions.

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Michael E. Feltner and Grant Taylor

The purpose of the study was to examine the resultant joint forces (RJFs) and torques (RJTs) at the shoulder, elbow, and wrist during penalty throws and determine the relationships between muscle actions and motions of the throwing arm. Subjects with an overhand (OH) throwing technique created larger maximal and average RJTs at the shoulder and elbow compared to subjects with a sweep (SW) technique (Feltner & Nelson, 1996). Prior to release, OH technique subjects decreased their abduction torque and created adduction torques at the shoulder. Adduction torques and downward vertical motion of the trunk, together with an internal rotation torque at the shoulder, resulted in large internal rotation angular velocities at release for the OH technique subjects. The SW technique subjects did not exhibit these technique characteristics. Additionally, throwing technique exhibited a moderate but positive relationship with several chest, upper arm, and forearm circumference measures. Findings suggest that muscular strength may be a causal determinant of technique style.

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Ronnie Lidor, Gal Ziv and Tamar Gershon

In this article we reviewed a series of studies (n = 18) on psychological preparation of the goalkeeper (GK) for the 11-m penalty kick in soccer. The main findings of this review were that deception strategies (e.g., standing slightly off-center) can increase the chances of the kick being directed to a desired direction, and that individual differences among GKs should be considered when planning sport psychology programs for GKs. A number of research limitations and methodological concerns, such as the lack of ecological validity of the tasks performed in the studies and the lack of studies on psychological interventions, were discussed. In addition, a number of practical implications for sport psychology consultants who work with GKs in soccer were suggested.

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Martina Navarro, Nelson Miyamoto, John van der Kamp, Edgard Morya, Ronald Ranvaud and Geert J.P. Savelsbergh

We investigated the effects of high pressure on the point of no return or the minimum time required for a kicker to respond to the goalkeeper’s dive in a simulated penalty kick task. The goalkeeper moved to one side with different times available for the participants to direct the ball to the opposite side in low-pressure (acoustically isolated laboratory) and high-pressure situations (with a participative audience). One group of participants showed a significant lengthening of the point of no return under high pressure. With less time available, performance was at chance level. Unexpectedly, in a second group of participants, high pressure caused a qualitative change in which for short times available participants were inclined to aim in the direction of the goalkeeper’s move. The distinct effects of high pressure are discussed within attentional control theory to reflect a decreasing efficiency of the goal-driven attentional system, slowing down performance, and a decreasing effectiveness in inhibiting stimulus-driven behavior.

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Michael E. Feltner and September T. Nelson

The purpose was to compute the instantaneous contributions of anatomical rotations of the trunk, upper arm, forearm, and hand to ball speed and to quantify the three-dimensional angular kinematics of the trunk and throwing arm during water polo penalty throws. The largest contributors to predicted ball speed |(vB)'| at release were forearm extension and a counterclockwise twisting rotation of the trunk. Upper arm internal rotation contribution to |(vB)'| at release was highly variable and exhibited a significant inverse relationship with the upper arm horizontal adduction contribution to |(vB)'| at release (r = −.70). Subjects with large internal rotation contributions to |(vB)'| tended to have the upper arm in positions of less external rotation, but internally rotating at a faster rate, at release. Subjects with large upper arm horizontal adduction contributions to |(vB)'| exhibited a trend for faster rates of upper arm horizontal adduction and positions of increased forearm pronation at release. Findings suggest that a continuum of technique styles are used by water polo players to produce ball speed at release.