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Igniting the pressure acclimatization training debate: contradictory pilot-study evidence from Australian football.

Australian football is the pre-eminent sport in Australia. Played between two teams of 22 players, with 18 players on the field at any given time, the main way to score is to punt the oval shaped ball through the two centre goal posts to score six points. Australian Football is a team sport that is played in an open skilled environment with closed skills (i.e., set shots for goal) within game play. A set shot is when a player has a shot at goal after taking a mark (i.e., catching a kicked ball) or receiving a free kick (i.e., penalty from an opposing player). One aspect of set shots in Australian Football that is different to other sports involving shots at goal (e.g., soccer, hockey and basketball) is the opposing player's role. The direct opponent becomes the "man on the mark", standing in the position where the mark or free kick was awarded and attempting to distract the kicker or block the ball's flight path. A set shot is similar to punting in American football; however, it is a more closed skill where the player can execute the task without being forced to rush the kick due to external pressure from defenders.

In the past two decades, Australian football has improved in nearly all aspects of the game. It is generally agreed that field kicking and handballing accuracy (i.e., passing), and defensive pressure have all improved and according to Gray and Jenkins (2010), data collected through global positioning systems technology and video analysis has shown Australian football is getting faster, yet according to Champion data Statistician Karl Jackson (personal communication, April 30, 2012); set shot goal kicking accuracy has declined over the last 12 years by 1.4 percent. One reason for the decline could be that set shots can lead to increased psychological pressure which is defined as "any factor or combination of factors that increases the importance of performing well on a particular occasion" (Baumeister, 1984). Choking under pressure (i.e., choking) is a term that is used to describe an inferior performance under increased levels of pressure. Mesagno and Hill (2013) defined choking as "an acute and considerable decrease in skill execution and performance when self-expected standards are normally achievable, which is the result of increased anxiety under perceived pressure" (p. 273). Not surprisingly, a number of studies have highlighted the problem of athletes performing poorly under pressure (Baumeister, 1984; Beilock & Carr, 2001; Gucciardi & Dimmock, 2008; Lewis & Linder, 1997; Mesagno & Mullane-Grant, 2010; Mesagno, Harvey, & Janelle, 2011; Oudejans, Kuijpers, Kooijman, & Bakker, 2011; Oudejans & Pijpers, 2009, 2010; Wilson, Wood, & Vine, 2009).

One intervention that has helped stabilize these decreases in performance under pressure is acclimatization (also known as self-consciousness, or simulation training). Acclimatizing refers to a player adapting or becoming accustomed to increased anxiety, by training with additional mild anxiety (Oudejans & Pijpers, 2009). Supporters of acclimatization (e.g., Beilock & Carr, 2001; Lewis & Linder, 1997; Nieuwenhuys & Oudejans 2011, Reeves, Tenebaum, & Lidor, 2007) believe that, if an athlete can train in a manner that helps him/her become accustomed to the pressure in competition, performance may improve in high pressure situations. Lewis and Linder (1997) conducted an initial acclimatization study that compared golf putting performance. All participants were first involved in a low pressure phase, whereby they completed 10 putts to a target in a practice setting with one group experiencing increased self-awareness adapted training by being video-taped during their practice trials and the non-adapted group not being video-taped. All participants were then exposed to high pressure, to determine if the self-awareness adapted group had become acclimatized to the "pressure". This involved the participants being informed they would receive double the normal credit points for participation if they performed well. The results indicated that the self-awareness adapted group performed better under pressure than the self-awareness non-adapted training group.

Another acclimatization study involved two experiments using basketball free-throws and dart throwing. Oudejans and Pijpers (2009) examined whether training with mild anxiety could prevent choking. The first experiment involved two elite basketball teams that performed free throws. Two tests were completed during the pretest and posttest, one with high pressure (HP) and one with low pressure (LP). Pressure was induced by videotaping participants and informing them the footage would be evaluated by experts, involving participants in sub-team competitions with the winning team receiving a cash prize, with coaches and other players present to witness the shots, and asking participants to imagine the free throws were potential match winners. Both teams then completed a five week intervention, whereby the experimental group (EG) intervention included pressure induced by manipulations similar to that of the HP test except the cash prizes were replaced by individual and team sanctions (sprints and push-ups) per missed free throw. The control group (CG) intervention did not involve additional pressure. The pretest results indicated that both groups performed worse in the HP than in the LP. However, during the posttests, only the CG performed worse during the HP. One limitation of the Oudejans and Pijpers study was that, during the pressure manipulation, participants were instructed to imagine that the shots were match winning attempts, which introduces another possible positive intervention (i.e., mental imagery) into the HP situation. More recently, Nieuwenhuys and Oudejans (2011) investigated the effects on training with anxiety on police officers' shooting behavior under pressure. The pre-test, post-test, and retention test study involved officers completing a shooting exercise under low anxiety (i.e., opponent did not shoot back) and high anxiety conditions (i.e., against an opponent that occasionally shot back using colored soap cartridges). Results indicated that, during the post-test and retention test, the experimental group who practiced under high anxiety conditions performed better under high anxiety conditions than the control group who practiced under low anxiety conditions. Thus, the results of these studies supported the acclimatization theory because the participants who experienced HP during their intervention sessions maintained performance in the post HP tests, whereas participants who did not experience acclimatization decreased performance in the post-intervention HP tests.

Thus, the purpose of the current study was to investigate whether pressure acclimatization training is as effective in Australian football set shot goal kicking, where the pressure applied by opponents is more interactive than the distractions applied by opponents in other sports. To investigate this, we implemented more ecologically valid manipulations during the intervention sessions. It was hypothesized that acclimatization would improve set shot goal kicking performance under pressure.



Thirty experienced (playing experience: M= 10.90; SD = 3.60 years) Victorian Football League (the 2nd highest ranked competition in Australian football) players from the same team were selected to participate in the study. Due to player issues (e.g., being delisted, injuries, player relocation, or missed testing sessions), only 12 male participants ([M.sub.playing experience] = 11.58; [SD.sub.playing experience] = 3.66 years) completed all testing and were used for the analyses (age: M = 20.58; SD = 2.23 years).


Mental readiness form-3 (Krane, 1994). To examine the effect that anxiety had on performance, participants completed a Mental Readiness Form-3 (MRF-3) to measure their state anxiety. The MRF-3 was chosen because of its efficiency of data collection and is a measure of state anxiety that has been used successfully in other studies (Krane, 1994; Wilson et al., 2009). The MRF-3 has three separate 100 millimetre (mm) continuums that are anchored between calm and worried for cognitive anxiety, relaxed and tense for somatic anxiety and confident and not confident for self-confidence. The participant placed a mark on each of the lines to show how he was feeling at that moment. The measurement between the left edge of the line and the mark on the line was the player's score out of 100, with higher scores indicating a higher anxiety. Wilson et al. reported the correlations of the MRF-3 to the Competitive State Anxiety Inventory-2 (CSAI-2; Martens, Burton, Vealey, Bump, & Smith, 1990), a widely used sport anxiety questionnaire, to be 0.76 for cognitive anxiety, 0.69 for somatic anxiety, and 0.68 for self-confidence.

Performance. Performance was measured with set shots. The scoring system in this study included a goal (i.e., football being kicked between the two centre posts) equalling two points, a behind (i.e., football being kicked between either of the two outer scoring sections) equalling one point, and a shot that went outside the outer posts receiving zero points. The normal Australian football scoring system (goal = 6 points, behind = 1 point) was not used because scoring zones are similar distances apart and the normal Australian football scoring would magnify "goals" relative to "behinds" in the results. In order to ensure the distance of the kick was enough to avoid being stopped by a defender in a game, a rope was also tied between the outside posts at a height of 270 cm, which acted as a "crossbar" to replicate the height of a jumping defender on the goal line with his arms raised above his head, who may stop the ball as it approached goal. For a score to be registered, the kick needed to clear the crossbar (without touching it), otherwise a score of zero was awarded for that kick. The total score for the 10 shots was used as the dependent performance variable.


The design of the study was similar to the Oudejans and Pijpers (2009), with an intervention phase completed between the pre-intervention and post-intervention testing (where the tests included a LP and HP component). The difference was that the task was Australian football goal kicking and the HP was slightly different (as explained below) and there was additional manipulations implemented to increase anxiety levels, such as prize money, increased interaction from opponents, and up to date scoreboards.


Prior to commencing the study, coaches from the team were approached and pilot testing conducted on players of equal ability, but not used as participants in the current study, to determine appropriate kicking angles and distances from goal. After consulting the coaches and analysing the pilot data, the kicking positions were selected, which replicated some of the common positions where set shots for goal are taken in match situations (see Figure 1). Standard football equipment (i.e., footballs, football field and goal posts) was used during the data collection.


Conditions. Prior to the first session, participants completed an informed consent form that explained the University Research Ethics Committee approved the study. During the pre-intervention testing, the participants took 10 kicks at goal in a LP condition, with only the researcher present. One kick was taken from each of the 10 common goal-kicking positions with five shots taken from a distance of 20 m, and the other five taken from 30 m, away from goal. The order of the positions was randomized to decrease the likelihood of order effects. As the participants attempted the shots at goal, one researcher stood directly in front of the participant completely still at the pre-determined kicking distance and position, which is similar to the position of the kicker's opponent in a normal Australian football game. To accurately measure how participants were feeling during the goal kicking, the MRF-3 was completed after each participant's fifth shot at goal, which was administered by the first author who explained the form by reading an instruction sheet verbatim to ensure consistency.

The HP condition was similar to the LP condition with the exception that teammates who were either on the mark or in close proximity to the kicker, attempted to distract their opponents by yelling out, jumping around, and using any other techniques within Australian football rules. Coaching staff were also present to observe the tests. The participant was video-taped from various angles, by a digital video camcorder (Sony DCR-DVD810E), and told that coaching staff would evaluate the video footage. A monetary incentive of S150AU was awarded to the participant with the best score. Prior to the HP test, participants were made aware that results would also be posted in a highly visible area in the team change rooms. These methods used to induce pressure in the current study were similar to those of other studies (e.g., Baumeister, 1984; Beilock & Carr, 2001; Gucciardi & Dimmock, 2008; Mesagno & Mullane-Grant, 2010; Mesagno et al., 2011; Oudejans & Pijpers, 2009, 2010). The order of the HP and LP conditions were counterbalanced to ensure that an order effect did not occur.

Groups. Following the pre-intervention tests and when allocating participants to the two groups, participant playing positions were considered to ensure group similarities for forwards, backs and midfield players. After group homogeneity was considered, participants were then randomly assigned into one of two groups: EG or CG. The CG completed the intervention phase with LP, the EG completed the intervention phase with HP.

Intervention Phase. The two groups completed separate intervention phases at the same time at opposite ends of the field that involved 14 sessions conducted over seven weeks. The intervention sessions were the same as the testing (i.e., 10 shots for goal) and occurred on separate nights to the testing sessions. The EG, whose scores were recorded during all sessions, completed their intervention training with similar pressure manipulations used in the HP test, with a few changes. First, the player with the best cumulative score after the 14 sessions, instead of the best session, received the prize money. Second, participants were placed into sub-teams of three, and the team with the best cumulative score shared $250AU in prize money. Third, an up to date leader board of weekly team and individual scores, were posted in a highly visible area in the team change rooms. Last, the MRF-3 was completed after fifth attempt of Sessions 3, 8, and 14 only to verify the level of anxiety experienced during the intervention phase.

The CG completed the intervention sessions similar to the LP, with the sessions being completed in pairs. One player completed his 10 shots, while his partner returned the balls, and then they switched roles. The groups alternated sides of the field for each session to ensure that neither group received a part of field advantage.

Post-Intervention Test. The post-intervention test was identical to the preintervention test, with groups being involved in the LP and HP conditions again. All preintervention, intervention, and post-intervention testing sessions were conducted at the team's home ground and at the conclusion of the team's normal training sessions.


Statistical Analyses

Four dependent variables (i.e., performance and three scores from the MRF-3) were investigated and analyzed using a 3-factor (Group: EG, CG x Condition: LP, HP x Test: pre, post) repeated measures Analysis of Variance (3-way RMANOVA). Further analysis was conducted using independent samples t tests, paired samples t tests and correlation analyses. To decrease the likelihood of Type I error, Bonferroni corrections were implemented for each set of t tests. The statistical significance for the RMANOVA was set at p < 0.05, with the alpha level for Bonferroni-corrected t tests set at p < 0.0125 (=0.05/4). Effect sizes (ES) adhered to Hopkins (2006) categorization of 0.2 or less (trivial), 0.2-0.6 (small), 0.6-1.2 (moderate), 1.2-2.0 (large), 2.0--4.0 (very large), and 4.0 and above (nearly perfect).

Group Difference Check

To determine homogeneity of groups, the pre-intervention test scores for both groups on the four dependent variables were analyzed by independent samples t tests (Table 1). The pre-intervention LP and HP tests both indicated no significant Group differences for performance, somatic anxiety, cognitive anxiety or confidence.

Primary Analyses: Three Way ANOVAs

The 3-way (Group x Condition x Test) RMANOVA indicated a significant Condition main effect for somatic anxiety (F(1,10) = 14.706,p = 0.003, partial [[eta].sup.2] = .595), cognitive anxiety (F(1,10) = 15.862, p = 0.003, partial [[eta].sup.2] = 0.613), and confidence (F(1,10) = 7.284,p = 0.022, partial [[eta].sup.2] = .421). The results indicated that, for both Groups and both Tests, anxiety and confidence scores were significantly higher in the HP tests compared to the LP. Other anxiety results (p > 0.10) indicated that there were no other significant effects due to Group or Test and there were no significant interactions among Group, Condition and Test.

The RMANOVA for performance indicated a significant main effect of Test (F (1,10) = 6.451, p = 0.029, partial [[eta].sup.2] = 0.392), with performance being significantly lower at posttest than at pre-test for both LP and HP conditions. The other performance scores (p > 0.10) indicated no other significant effects due to Group or Condition, and there were no significant interactions.

Pre-Intervention Anxiety Manipulation Check

Further analyses of pre-intervention LP and HP scores were conducted separately for each group using paired t tests. The pre-intervention test results for the CG indicated a differences between LP and HP that approached statistical significance (Bonferroni corrected p < 0.0125) for somatic anxiety (t (5) = -2.644, p = 0.046) and cognitive anxiety (t (5) = -3.580,p = 0.016) but not for confidence (t (5) = -1.796, p = 0.132). The results for the EG showed no significant difference between LP and HP for somatic anxiety (t (5) = -1.156, p = 0.300), cognitive anxiety (t (5) = -1.897, p = 0.116) or confidence (t (5) = -1.430, p = 0.212).

Post-Intervention Anxiety Manipulation Check

To examine whether or not the pressure manipulations were successful at raising anxiety levels in the post-intervention test, paired t tests of LP and HP scores were conducted separately for each group. The CG's anxiety scores showed no significant difference between LP and HP for somatic anxiety (t (5) =-2.126, p = 0.087), cognitive anxiety (t (5) = -.800, p = 0.460), or confidence (t (5) = -.304, p = 0.773). The results for the EG indicated that the difference between LP and HP approached significance (Bonferroni corrected p < 0.0125) for somatic anxiety (t (5) = -2.621, p = 0.047), and cognitive anxiety (t (5) =-2.646, p = 0.046) but not confidence (t (5) = -.842, p = 0.438).

During-Intervention Anxiety Manipulation Check

To examine whether or not the pressure manipulations of the EG during the intervention phase were successful at raising anxiety levels, RMANOVAs of HP anxiety levels for the EG at the five time points that these were measured (pre, Session 3, Session 8, Session 14, post), were undertaken. There were no significant differences over time for Cognitive F(1,4) = 1.425, p = 0.370, partial [[eta].sup.2] = .588 , Somatic F(l,4) = 1.471, p = 0.359, partial [[eta].sup.2] = .595 or Confidence F(1,4) = 1.720, p = 0.306, partial [[eta].sup.2] = .632, indicating that the pressure manipulation for the EG during the intervention sessions were successful at raising anxiety levels to levels similar to those observed in pre and post phases.

Indicative trends

While the primary ANOVAs did not reveal statistically significant interactions, there were consistent indications of a 3-factor interactive pattern in the mean levels of somatic and cognitive anxiety. The results in Table 2 summarize for each of EG and CG, the differences in the three dependent variables between LP and HP conditions, and compares those differences from pre-intervention testing to post-intervention testing. For somatic anxiety and cognitive anxiety, while not significant, the EG and CG differences trended in opposite directions in the two groups. The CG somatic and cognitive scores in the post-intervention testing were trending towards being less affected by HP. Conversely, the EG somatic and cognitive scores in the post-intervention testing were trending towards being more affected by HP.

Low Pressure and High Pressure Kicking Performance

The altered scoring system implemented allowed a scoring range maximum of 20 and a minimum of zero. When the performance scores of each group were analyzed using paired sample t tests, the results of the pre-intervention testing indicated that both the CG (t(5) = -0.146, p = 0.889) and the EG (t (5) = -0.229, p = 0.828) showed trivial improvements between LP and HP performance.

When a paired t test analysis was conducted on the post-intervention testing performance scores of each group, the CG high pressure post-intervention test performance had a non-significant improvement from their low pressure post-intervention test performance (t(5) = -1.408, p = 0.218). The EG high pressure post-intervention test performance was marginally lower than their low pressure post-intervention test performance (t(5) = 1.955, p = 0.108).

Pre to Post Performance Comparison

The results of the RMANOVA indicated a significant Test main effect relating performance, E(1,10) = 6.451, p = 0.029, partial [[eta].sup.2] = .392; for both Groups and Conditions, the performance decreased in the post-intervention testing. There were no other significant results relating to performance (p < 0.10). To examine the pre- to post-intervention test performance comparison in more detail, paired sample t test analyses were conducted. For the LP condition, the CG post-intervention test approached significance when compared to the pre-intervention test, t(5) = 3.07, p = 0.028. The EG post-intervention LP performance was not significantly different when compared to their pre-intervention LP performance t(5) = .316, p = 0.765. The CG post-intervention HP performance was also not significantly different to the pre-intervention HP performance, t(5) = .432,p = 0.684. The EG postintervention HP performance was not significantly different to the pre-intervention HP performance, t(5) = 2.177,p = 0.081.


The purpose of the current study was to investigate whether pressure acclimatization training improves Australian football goal kicking performance in a high-pressure situation. We also examined whether anxiety levels changed from LP to HP as a result of the training interventions. The results demonstrated that an increase in pressure resulted in increased anxiety levels from LP to HP in the pre and post-intervention tests. The results also indicated that, contrary to other research (e.g., Oudejans & Pijpers, 2009), performance scores did not improve as a result of the acclimatization intervention.

Anxiety Manipulation Check

Considering the main focus was to examine whether practicing under pressure assists Australian football players to become acclimatized to the pressure, it was necessary to ensure that anxiety increased during HP testing. In line with other acclimatization studies (e.g., Oudejans & Pijpers, 2009), it was hypothesized that anxiety (i.e., cognitive and somatic anxiety) would be higher in the HP than in the LP condition. The results indicated that cognitive and somatic anxiety were significantly higher in the HP compared to the LP condition. As such, the pressure manipulations were successful at increasing anxiety for both groups and both testing sessions. The anxiety scores observed in the current study were similar to the results of other experimental studies focusing on anxiety and attentional control that involved participants attempting soccer penalty kicks under high and low pressure (e.g., Wilson et al., 2009).

In the current study, the CG was more affected (i.e., greater anxiety increase) than the EG by the HP in the pre-intervention testing. This difference indicated that, prior to the intervention, the CG experienced more anxiety, which did not lead to a drastic change in performance. The post-intervention testing results showed that the HP anxiety scores were higher than the LP, indicating that the measures taken to increase pressure levels were still having the desired effect. Additionally, the anxiety effect reversed for the groups during the post-intervention testing. That is, the EG was more affected by HP than the CG after the intervention phase. Contrary to our hypothesis, the EG group was becoming more sensitive to high pressure after the intervention. These results are in contrast to the results of Oudejans and Pijpers (2009) basketball study where post-intervention tests indicated significant anxiety differences between HP and LP conditions.

Low and High Pressure Kicking Performance

In contrast to the Oudejans and Pijpers (2009) findings, the results from the current study indicated that in the pre-intervention test a trivial improvement in kicking performance during the HP occurred. Furthermore, the post-intervention test results were also in contrast to the findings of other studies (e.g., Beilock & Carr, 2001; Oudejans & Pijpers, 2009). Oudejans and Pijpers' post-intervention test indicated that after the acclimatization training the CG free throw shooting accuracy was still negatively affected by pressure. That is, the CG performed worse in the HP than in the LP condition, and the EG improved their scoring in the HP condition (indicating the EG had acclimatized to the HP). Beilock and Canfound that under certain training environments (e.g., self-consciousness training), choking can be reduced. In the present study, after the intervention sessions the EG's performance scores declined moderately in the HP testing. The CG, however, tended to show a moderate improvement in accuracy in the HP testing. These equivocal results indicate that acclimatization training may be counterproductive, possibly creating a conditioned response for athletes in which they may become more pressure sensitive, leading to higher anxiety and performance decrements. These results could also be explained through the CG and EG having different levels of expectations of success. Baumeister, Hamilton and Tice (1985) explained that when an athlete feels others are expecting success and that athlete experiences self-doubt, the result may be an increased level of pressure and a poor performance. Conversely those who were not expected to succeed may experience the lower levels of pressure and positive performance effects. Linking Baumeister et al. to the present study, the participants in the EG were involved in the HP intervention sessions and may have perceived that others (e.g., coaches, researchers) were expecting them to perform well, whereas the CG felt less expectation in the post HP test because they were not involved in the HP intervention sessions and were able to deliver the superior performance.

Pre to Post Performance Comparison

When comparing the pre-intervention to the post-intervention test scores, the CG showed a larger decline in performance in the LP than the HP testing, but the opposite occurred for the EG, who showed a larger decline in the HP testing than LP. Possible explanations for contrasting results to Oudejans and Pijpers (2009) study include (but are not limited to) the number of intervention sessions, dose effect, and amount of pressure. One possible factor is the number of intervention sessions and number of attempts the participants took in this study compared to participants in the Oudejans and Pijpers study. In the Oudejans and Pijpers study, participants completed 96 free throws over nine sessions, whereas in the current study, participants completed 140 attempts over 14 sessions. There may be a "dose response effect", where there reaches a point that any further practice becomes detrimental to the acclimatization training. Furthermore, the type of skills (i.e., basketball free-throw shooting vs. football goal-kicking) completed in the two studies may also have had an effect on the success of the acclimatization. That is, the free throw is a non-ambulatory fine motor skill in comparison to the Australian football set shot where individuals use gross motor movement while ambulating forward to kick for goal. Furthermore, it is also possible that these results could be caused by a combination of the number of attempts and type of skill, but further research is needed to develop explanations for this contradictory evidence.


The study was designed with scientific rigour in mind; nevertheless, some limitation should still be mentioned. One limitation was the environmental conditions at the team's home ground. The different wind conditions on the two testing days (Pre-intervention testing = no wind, Post-intervention testing = medium wind blowing across the face of the goals), may have affected results. We attempted to collect the data in the same environmental conditions as possible, but it was not logistically possible based on the allowed training schedule. Nevertheless, both groups experienced the same conditions therefore the effects of the acclimatization should still be evident. Future acclimatization research in Australian football would need to ensure that pre and post- intervention testing conditions (both audience and environmental conditions) are identical. The positives of conducting the study on an actual playing field are too important to alter the design of the experiment; a laboratory setting would lose ecological validity. An ideal scenario would be using an indoor football field. If this is not possible, having the flexibility to ensure the conditions in the pre-intervention testing are similar to the conditions in the post- intervention testing is extremely important. Another limitation is the lack of crowd noise experienced by participants during the pre and post testing and during the EG intervention. Oudejans and Pijpers (2010) suggested it is not feasible to practice under match conditions because they are too context specific. The measures taken to simulate these conditions, characterized (in part) by other participants yelling out as shots were taken at goal were deemed to be one of the best methods to increase participant anxiety levels while also considering ecological validity. A final limitation was the small sample size; the small sample size confines the extent that results can be generalised, ideally a larger sample would be beneficial to the results of the study. However, the study paves the way for future studies to be investigated.

Future Research

Oudejans and Pijpers (2009) found that acclimatization training can improve free throw performance under simulated pressure; however, our results contradicted these findings. If acclimatization is beneficial, another question that coaches would view as important is, can this acclimatization to pressure be maintained under match pressure? In basketball this is a distinct possibility because there is no inter-trial variability, with the foul line always the same distance and height from the basket. Free throw percentage in competition could be measured prior to, and following, an acclimatization phase. If improvement is shown to be durable, coaches would benefit from applying acclimatization training to help athletes deal with pressure during competition. Attempting this type of pre and post- intervention testing study with Australian football is far more complicated because of the inter-trial variability; set shots can be taken from many positions on the playing field and from many distances in any given match. If, however, the acclimatization was found to be durable in basketball under match conditions where the variables are consistent with free throws, there is the possibility that it could also be durable in other sports with identical closed skill tasks and requirements (e.g., soccer penalty kicks, archery). Future research may benefit from the inclusion of measures of self-consciousness and effort to determine if a player's ability to acclimatize to pressure is affected by his or her level of self-consciousness or whether effort increased during the HP. Future research should also investigate whether the combination of type of skill and the number of attempts has an impact on the success of acclimatization training.


In conclusion, the results from this study, which contradict the results of similar studies (Beilock & Carr, 2001; Lewis & Linder, 1997; Oudejans & Pjipers, 2009; Reeves et al., 2010), may ignite the pressure acclimatization debate and suggested that further research is required into the effectiveness of acclimatization training as a means of ameliorating the effects of performing under high pressure. Opposing performance and anxiety trends were displayed in this study, compared to other studies. That is, the EG were more affected by pressure in the post- intervention test, indicating that it could be detrimental to expose players to HP training. As such researchers and practitioners should not categorically expect acclimatization training can improve a players' ability to perform under pressure.

In contrast to previous acclimatization research conducted on basketball free throws, darts and golf putting (Lewis & Linder, 1997; Oudejans & Pijpers, 2009), the results of the present study did not substantiate the predicted hypothesis and, conversely, indicated that practicing with pressure may be detrimental to Australian football goal kicking performance. The results of this study indicated that the time consuming nature of this type of acclimatization training may not be an efficient way to practice set shot goal kicking.

Bradley Beseler

Christopher Mesagno

Warren Young

Jack Harvey

Federation University Australia


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Address correspondence to: Bradley Beseler, School of Health Science, Federation University Australia. P.O. Box 663, Ballarat, Victoria 3353 AUSTRALIA. Email:
Table 1
Pre-Intervention Test Means [+ or -] SD and Group Differences

                   CG (M [+ or -] SD)  EG (M [+ or -] SD)    P     ES

Pre Low Pressure   14.3 [+ or -] 0.8   14.0 [+ or -] 2.3   0.743  0.17

Pre Low Pressure   18.3 [+ or -] 8.2   25.5 [+ or -] 21.0  0.464  0.45

Pre Low Pressure   14.5 [+ or -] 5.2   14.8 [+ or -] 10.5  0.946  0.04

Pre Low Pressure   45.3 [+ or -] 21.4  28.8 [+ or -] 2.1   0.118  1.09

Pre High Pressure  14.5 [+ or -] 2.7   14.3 [+ or -] 1.9   0.903  0.09

Pre High Pressure  37.5 [+ or -] 20.8  40.7 [+ or -] 24.0  0.812  0.14

Pre High Pressure  49.7 [+ or -] 27.7  36.2 [+ or -] 23.8  0.387  0.52

Pre High Pressure  62.8 [+ or -] 18.8  42.8 [+ or -] 25.2  0.153  0.9

Table 2
Trends in the Difference in Response to Low Pressure and High
Pressure Anxiety Conditions

                            Pre    Post   Significance
                   DV        ES     ES        Trend

CONTROL         SOMATIC     1.21   0.91   Less affected
GROUP                                         by HP

               COGNITIVE    1.71   0.47   Less affected
                                              by HP

               CONFIDENCE   0.87   0.18   Less affected
                                              by HP

EXPERIMENTAL    SOMATIC     0.67   1.59   More affected
GROUP                                         by HP

               COGNITIVE    1.16   1.35   More affected
                                              by HP

               CONFIDENCE   0.78   0.39   Less affected
                                              by HP

Note. Pre = Pre-testing, Post = Post-testing, ES = Effect size
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Article Details
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Author:Beseler, Bradley; Mesagno, Christopher; Young, Warren; Harvey, Jack
Publication:Journal of Sport Behavior
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:8AUST
Date:Feb 21, 2016
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