On the importance of positive emotions and sharing goals in football penalty shootouts

Emotional contagion is an important process to consider in the context of elite sport performance and training. A talk at 13th FEPSAC European Congress of Sport Psychology July 2011 on Madeira, Portugal.

Research has shown that teams that show more positive and team oriented behaviour after a penalty shot perform better during the penalty shootout. We investigated whether working in a team during a penalty shootout affects the expression of positive emotions of football players.

Eight players from a first division football club (mean aged 23 ± 0.74 years) and ten players from a professional football club academy (mean age 16.25 ± 0.62 years) took penalty shots under two task conditions. In the ‘individual’ condition players were made personally responsible for their result whilst in the ‘team’ condition players took penalties as if they were in a penalty shootout and part of a team. Raters (n=31) viewed video’s of  post performance behaviour and rated intensity of emotion expression.

Results showed that players expressed significantly less positive emotions after a score in the individual condition compared to the ‘team’ condition, suggesting that contagion of positive emotions by players that share goals results in the experience of less pressure, which enables them to perform better. Contagion of these emotions has opposite effects on opponents that share opposite goals, resulting in the experience of higher performance pressure, harming their performance.

Watch the whole presentation of the talk:

Gert-Jan Pepping is a consultant, researcher, and senior lecturer in Psychology of Human Movement and Sport at the School of Exercise Sciences of ACU, Brisbane.

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Posted in Football, My own research, Sport Science

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