Take your shot

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over 40 percent were scored in the left hand third of the goal. This makes sense if the left is considered the 'natural' side of the goal for right-footed players, who are the majority. 35.1 percent are scored in the right hand side of the goal while less than a quarter are hit down the middle." From the players that took the penalties in these tournaments, the majority of the takers were right-footed, and a favorite placement of those players was found to be the left side.


Below is a visual display from the article on the shots made, missed, and saved.




Mark Oliver and Steve Wilson, the contributors to this report state,  "further to the aim high or low debate there is encouragement for those brave enough to try and strike the ball in the top third of the goal. Of all the penalties in the study not a single one was saved here - meaning if you can lift the ball high and on target you are guaranteed to score. Of course, the risk of striking it over or against the cross bar exists."


The findings from the data is pretty telling, with the article going on to state the idea of "luck" in a penalty shootout. The start of a penalty shootout comes down to a coin flip, whichever teams correctly calls the flip, gets to choose which team goes first. "Those who chose to go first during the study scored 76.9 percent of penalties scored compared to 68.4 per cent success for those going second - the team going first winning 75 percent of shootouts. This is probably explained by the pressure of constantly playing catch up, with those missing first losing 81.2 per cent of the time."


From this data, the left side of the goal was where the most penalty takes were made. However, this is not to say that someone taking a penalty kick should kick it in that section. There are many other factors that could go into a penalty shot. Obviously, it depends on the taker. All professional sports teams prepare for a penalty shootout and players know if they will be one of the five sent to the spot. The player will ultimately decide where they are most comfortable to shoot. Some players will even look at previous shootouts of the opposing goalkeeper on film and see if he dives a particular way when a shot is taken. These statistics are just a set of explanations on where a penalty kick should be taken.


I personally believe that a lot of it comes down to luck and pure chance. A penalty shootout, from the many that I have watched, all comes down to that given day, the better team does not always win. What other factors to you think goes into a penalty shot? We once again can find ourselves discussing the mental aspect of the player. They could be the best player in the world, but when they step up to that infamous spot and shank it wide to the right, we wonder to ourselves how this is when the goal is inviting them to sink it in.


Check out one of my favorite penalty shootouts here!

1 Comment

I just want to say that I am an avid soccer fan. From your blog here you argue that you can use stats to explain or determine penalty shootouts. You say that you have a certain percentage depending upon when you shoot in the order and where you choose to aim. However you also have to take into effect the situations of the pitch, and the skill of the players involved. If you are looking at the Germans I would take them any day in a shootout due to the fact they are known for their skill with penalties. The same goes for the Italians. However if England was in a shootout i would not pick them because they have been atrocious in previous european competitions I.E 2004 Eurocup, 2006 world cup, and 2012 Europcup. You also have to take into effect the conditions on the field. John Terry, one of the greatest players in the world was up to take the winning penalty in 2008 during the champions league final against Manchester United but he slipped and fell in the rain causing his team to lose. Sometimes the numbers don't lie but in this case i think that they do. These numbers ail constantly change depending upon the players conditions and competitions that they are competing in, ad therefore i will say that they are invalid.

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