The impact of a high-pressure protocol on psychological, psychophysiological response and penalty performance in professional soccer: A mixed methods study

  • Ellis, L. (Speaker)
  • Paul Ward (Contributor to Paper or Presentation)

Activity: Talk or presentation typesPoster presentation


The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of a six-phase high-pressure protocol on: i) penalty shooting performance; ii) psychological; and iii) psychophysiological response in professional soccer. A mixed-method research (MMR) design was employed using a within-subjects experimental design that consisted of low-pressure (baseline) and high-pressure conditions. Quantitative data collection was supplemented with the collection of semi-structured interview data. The interview data was analyzed using inductive and deductive content analysis. Twenty professional footballers (16 outfield players, 4 goalkeepers) from an Under-18 English League Academy took part. Outfield players took penalty shots to four targets under both conditions. The Immediate Anxiety Measurement Scale (IAMS; Thomas, Hanton, & Jones, 2002) and Pressure Likert scale (Kinrade, Jackson, & Ashford, 2010) were administered prior to both conditions. The NeXus-10 biofeedback system was used to record playe rs' heart rate and respiration rate throughout performance. Following the high-pressure condition, players retrospectively assessed the level of pressure for each of the six stressors (e.g., crowd noise, coach evaluation, enforced targets). After completion, they took part in an interview.Pressure, cognitive anxiety, and respiration rate significantly increased in the high-pressure condition. After controlling for the level of pressure experienced in the high-pressure condition, bivariate variable error performance (Hancock et al., 1995) significantly increased (i.e., players were more variable in their grouping of shots under stress). Albeit non-significantly, mean radial error (Hancock et al., 1995) decreased (i.e., players were minimally more accurate in response to stress). Conversion rate declined under high pressure. Qualitative findings indicated that the six-phase high-pressure condition evoked changes in emotion (e.g., enforced targets reduced players’ self-confidence). Findings extend the existing literature on performance under pressure and highlight the potential value of training under such conditions. The data also provide insight for researchers, practitioners, and coaches on the experiences of professional footballers.
PeriodOct 2020
Event title35th Annual Association for Applied Sport Psychology Conference 2020
Event typeConference
Conference number35
Degree of RecognitionInternational