Monday, June 4, 2012

Penalty Cusp Catastrophe Shootout

In a few days the 2012 European Cup will be starting in Poland and Ukraine. Obviously the teams from each country will be seeking ways to optimally arouse their performance in each game. I wouldn't surprised if the managers for each team are familiar with the cusp catastrophe model "Sports is one of those endeavors in which it is very important to control arousal in order to maximize performance. Arousal factors that determine athletic performance are addressed in the cusp catastrophe model from sports psychology, which holds there are two types of arousal: cognitive anxiety and physiological anxiety"(Deckers 135). This led me to start thinking about the inevitable penalty shootout(s) I will eventually see in the tournament. This occurs if after thirty minutes of extra time no one manages to win each team enters a best of five penalty kick series. More often then not a team loses not because of a brilliant save by the goalie, but a player chokes and kicks a lousy penalty.

Deckers explains why a player perfroms optimally "However at midrange or high levels of cognitive anxiety, increases in physiological arousal lead to a cusp where performance is best. Here an athlete is described as a "clutch" player. Increases in physiological arousal beyond this cusp however, result in a sudden and dramatic drop in performance. At this point the athlete "chokes" and performs badly"(Deckers 137). It must be difficult for a coach to motivate a player at this point. It is no wonder why so many penalty kickers choke. Having already played over 120 minutes of soccer at that point they are obviously pushed way beyond that magic cusp at this point.  I also imagine the thought of basically doing it alone in front of potentially billions of people pushes someone's cognitive physiological arousal at a highly stressful limit. Knowing this I will be far more empathetic to the player who chokes and costs their team the win.

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