Exploring sport coaching and psychology
Exploring sport coaching and psychology

This free course is available to start right now. Review the full course description and key learning outcomes and create an account and enrol if you want a free statement of participation.

Free course

Exploring sport coaching and psychology

8 Self-talk before penalty taking

Read about Alex Danson’s experiences before taking a penalty. How can her use of self-talk be categorised into a process, a motivational outcome, a control of excitement/anxiety or an instructional focus?

Alex says ...

During the semi-final of the Olympic Games we won a penalty stroke, almost immediately I knew it was my job to step up to the spot. The last time I took a penalty stroke was at the European Nations Cup, and I had missed. I had consciously changed a few behaviours after this last experience. Firstly, in this instance, I outwardly celebrated winning the stroke. I then picked up the ball and very slowly walked to the spot where I put the ball down. I stood up very tall and looked at the goal and visualised exactly where I would put the shot. I then paused, took a deep breath and remember thinking, ‘this is going in’. I didn’t let any negative thought pass through my mind. I had done all the practice, I had a physical and mental routine and although I was in an Olympic semi-final, it felt like I was just taking another shot back at our training base at Bisham Abbey. In this example, I scored and we went through to the Olympic Final.

In contrast, at the end of the Olympic Final, I had a penalty shuffle, a different skill to a stroke, but requiring the same mental skills. I employed all the same techniques and this time the keeper saved it, but this was an outcome I had already accepted was a possibility before the game had even started. This was important as my mind and body had to be ready if I was needed to step up and take another, in case it got around to sudden death. For me, the acceptance of either outcome before the game meant on both occasions I took the stroke and shuffle without nerves and full of confidence.

Notice how Alex had consciously adjusted her behaviours from the European Nations Cup. Her routine was deliberately orientated towards a positive outcome of the task (i.e. saying ‘this is going in’) and her body language (i.e. standing tall), visualisation (i.e. the placement of the ball in the goal) a set routine and acceptance of either score or saved outcome all helped towards controlling excitement/anxiety.


Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has nearly 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to university level study, find out more about the types of qualifications we offer, including our entry level Access courses and Certificates.

Not ready for University study then browse over 900 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus