Pressure affects us all and sports performers are no different. Tennis players serve double faults, golfers miss short putts and football players miss penalty kicks when it really counts.
Just over 80 minutes into the Women’s World Cup semi-final, the England Lionesses trailed USA 1-2 and team captain Steph Houghton had a penalty kick to try to level the score. She was unable to convert the opportunity.
In her own words Houghton “just didn’t get a good connection” and the kick was saved by the USA goalkeeper.
But what was she thinking as she prepared for the penalty – was this a kick to level the scores or a kick not to lose the match? As captain, did she feel unusually self-conscious in that moment? Was she particularly focused on her technique, or was she simply unlucky?