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DON’T PANEKA: Our Guide To Taking The Perfect Penalty

October 04, 2015

- Grant Whittington

It may not be the fairest way in which to decide a game of football but when 120 minutes of play has expired it will ultimately come down to a tense penalty shoot-out. This agonising – yet let’s face it, incredibly entertaining – decider often ends with a heartbreaking result which is highlighted even more so if the entire game hinges on just a single kick of the ball. It’s psychologically tough and it’s a very heavy burden to carry for all the players involved, especially that one player who misses to send his side crashing out.

England have had more than their fair share of tears and heartache when it comes to penalties over the years. And with far too many depressing and demoralising scorelines haunting our football past thanks to these almost random and luck-based spot kicks, there may now thankfully be some science behind taking the perfect penalty.

The ‘unsaveable zone’ is the most goal-likely area that has been described by one such football researcher in which he stated that this is in fact the perfect spot for a player to place the ball in order to hopefully help beat the keeper every time. Following the analysis of hours and hours of footage researchers where able to determine just exactly what was the reach of a goalkeeper when leaping from side to side in order to help keep the ball out of the net. Therefore this ‘unsaveable zone’ is the furthest point away from the reach of a leaping keeper and players are said to have an 80% chance of scoring from doing so.

Even though the results of the research do not appear to offer a completely foolproof solution for netting a penalty kick it is something that professional players may want to take into consideration when they are next stepping up to the ball. Many players like to switch their target area every time they take a penalty and often in a high intensity game with a lot riding on the result they can make rash and often costly decisions.

There are a trio of factors that need to be considered when approaching a penalty shoot-out. The manager must be able to select the most suitable penalty takers for the situation and has to take control of who will be taking part before they get a chance to think too much about it. Mental preparation is also a crucial aspect for the penalty taker and if these elements can be factored in along with the perfect placement then the chances of increasing your team’s chances of success in a shoot-out can be increased dramatically.

We certainly hope Roy Hodgson puts these into practice when selecting his takers should it be needed in Euro 2016, particularly if England are going to go all the way, if indeed they can?

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