The act of speaking to oneself either silently or loudly is called self-talk. It is a behavior of personal inquiry into a situation either loudly by pronouncing words or within the mental framework by arguing with your inner conscience. Self-talk could either be positive or negative and it influences behavior based on which side one interrogates his mind. The feeling of worry, nervousness or state of uneasiness is called anxiety (Barker, 2007). This situation may occur when one is supposed to take on a task to which the outcome is not definite. The case of a football player taking a penalty shot is a good example of anxiety with the player full of doubts on both the ability of the goalkeeper and his accuracy in taking the shot. The player in this context will, therefore, have a positive or negative self-talk about the situation.
Positive self-talk convinces a player that he is capable and there is no way the goalkeeper will pick the shot. The player will, therefore, ponder words like come on, you can do it, I have the key, and its a goal among others to motivate them towards taking the penalty. This would in turn lower the adrenaline levels of the player who now takes the situation more easily and scores the goal (Hemmings & Holder, 2009). The calmness brought about by low adrenalin levels will also relax tight muscles of the player and allow more oxygen levels to convert accumulated pyruvic acid in the muscles to produce more energy. The player feels rejuvenated and ready to take on a penalty shot at higher precisions.
Winning is always in the mind of an individual as said by Bates a sports mental psychologist. A player must, therefore, run through the penalty kick in his mind to initiate a neurological action with an emotional outcome (Handle, 2011). The advantage of this is that it boosts the players confidence and almost guarantees a seventy-five percent success rate. Psychologists say that one on the penalty spot must talk of himself as a scorer before he converts it into a goal.
In most occasions, we see Cristiano Ronaldo or David Beckham taking a deep breath and chanting a few words before taking on a penalty kick. We may not be sure of the words they say but it is convincing to imagine that they are words of self-confidence, prayer and determination to score (Clark, 2005). This is a centering technique that helps players to control their energy within the central part of their body; provides extra energy and increases precision both in the eye of the player and the direction of the ball as intended by the player. Positive self-talk, therefore, increases the probability of a penalty kick being converted into as score.
Negative self-talk, on the other hand, will increase anxiety within a player. It makes them ponder the unknowns such as which side is the goalkeeper going to dive to, will I score, or what if I shot outside the goal? The player might also be thinking of the number of times he has lost on penalties before. Such negative denotations will in most cases negatively influence the outcome of a penalty shot (Burton & Raedeke, 2008). An anxious player is confused more than we can imagine; he walks into the penalty spot not sure of the direction he wants to shoot to
A player who has negative self-talk underestimates his abilities within the goal area, he is convinced the goal posts are too narrow and that the goalkeeper staring at him is the worlds best. He walks into the penalty area an intimidated person with low self-esteem (Russell, 2001). Research estimates that most of these players rarely score as they lack the power of motivation.
Previous studies have indicated that the creation of anxiety through negative self-talk leads to build up of both pyruvic and lactic acids within the muscles of a player. The reduced oxygen in the muscles coupled by the player not breathing normally converts pyruvic acid into lactic acid that cannot be removed due to restricted blood flow. The result is muscle ache and fatigue that reduces the velocity through which the ball would move as well as its precision. Most of the worlds best penalty takers will, therefore, prefer building the confidence through positive self-talk before they proceed with the challenge. The acts of psyching in teams before penalty shootouts are supposed to help the takers ease on anxiety (Birrer, Griesemer, & Cataletto, 2002). Roberto Bargios penalty against Dianna Rose is one of the World Cups biggest penalty miss attribute to anxiety. Asamoah Gyan would have put Ghana into the history books of being the first African country to enter the World Cup semifinal. His anxiety lowered his self-confidence to imagining the goal was too small, the results were the ball hitting the crossbar and ultimately killing the hopes of team Ghana. Gyan himself confessed that the goal looked narrower with an enormous goalkeeper in between the posts, this was clear negative self-talk.
My study, therefore, focuses on the specifics of self-talk to a penalty shooter, it will be seeking to address if what goes through the head has a direct influence on the result of the footwork on a penalty kick.
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