Team history and choking under pressure in major soccer penalty shootouts


*Correspondence should be addressed to: Geir Jordet, Norwegian School of Sport Sciences, PO Box 4014, Ullevål Stadion, 0806 Oslo, Norway (e-mail:


This study examined the links between historical team results and individual players’ subsequent performances in a high-pressure real-world sport situation. Videos were obtained from all soccer penalty shootouts held in two major international tournaments (World Cup and European Championships) between 1976 and 2006 (n= 260 players/309 kicks), and we controlled for team ability and country. The results showed that players on teams with preceding losses performed worse and generally took their shots more quickly than players on teams with preceding wins. These differences were also found with players who took no personal part in the preceding games. In conclusion, the results support the existence of historical dependency effects for performance on important and dramatic high-pressure tasks and they are in part consistent with a view of choking under pressure as a function of threatened egotism and self-regulation failure.