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Analysis of penalties taken in shoot-outs

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Penalties are now a subject of myth, romance, excitement, dread, fear and pressure - depending upon whether you are watching or taking them. Many soccer managers and coaches have said that they are a lottery and many are of the opinion that practising them are a waste of time, because it is not possible to replicate the pressure. Little research has been completed on penalty shoot-outs, and most of this has been on the performance of goalkeepers. The aim of this work is to use notation to analyse the performances of the penalty takers and goalkeepers in penalty shoot-outs taken from the FIFA World Cup finals and also the finals of the European Champions League, and present these data so that a successful profile of optimal performance can be defined.

A notation system was designed to input data directly into Access, 129 penalties were notated with an intention to analyse the time in preparing the shot, the number of paces taken to approach the ball, their relative pace, the pace of the shot, its placement and the outcome.

It was found that:-

• One in five saved (20%; 3/15), one in fifteen missed (7%; 1/15) and three in four scored (73%; 11/15).

• 25% of shots a fast run are saved because the player then tried either 50% or 75% power.

• Best success ratios are from an even run up of 4, 5 and 6 paces.

• There is no laterality in the success ratios - left footed and right footed strikers have the same success when the frequencies are represented as percentages.

• No shots above waist height were saved, although 18% of those shots missed.

• In every case, the goalkeeper moved off the line before the ball was struck.

• There is only a small data set, but the goalkeepers who took a pace forward and stood up while the striker approached the ball, had the best save and miss ratios.

• The profile of Germany's penalty takers show a consistent pattern that is very different from the average, indicating analysis and training.

It was concluded that these data analyses demonstrate that there are optimal strategies in taking and saving penalties. These point to ways of enhancing the individual performance of the players in these closed skills. Coaches in this team sport will be helped by methods used in individual sports such as golf and racket sports, where the emphasis is on the attainment of expert technique.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2002-08-15

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