Image: Toni Kroos takes a penalty against Italy at Euro 2016.
The ongoing Euro 2016 reached a climax during the hyped Germany vs Italy match which dragged to penalty shootouts, and ended with best players missing their shots even at 12 years. It was the same for Argentina at the last Copa America Finals.
Every football fan knows that scoring or missing penalties doesn’t make one a better player.
Reports from SkySports provide amazing hints and tips on how to perfectly take a penalty. MBNA spoke to penalties expert Ben Lyttleton for some advice.
Lyttleton is the author of Twelve Yards: The Art & Psychology of the Perfect Penalty. He is said to have advised clubs and national teams on penalty strategy.
According to the revelations from Lyttleton, scoring or missing a penalty srats in the players mindset. Everyone has something to learn from this lesson–professional footballers, amatuers and we, readers.
Simone Zaza missed his penalty for Italy in the most dramatic way.
1. Win the toss and kick first
The team that kicks first is 60 per cent more likely to go on to win the shoot-out – in part because the conversion rate for penalties taken ‘to stay in the shoot-out’ drops to 62 per cent in major tournaments, while the conversion rate for penalties taken to win the shoot-out rises to 92 per cent. It shows the difference between thinking about positive, as opposed to negative, consequences when taking a penalty.
2. Don’t put your best player last
You don’t want to lose the shoot-out before your best kicker gets a shot at the goal, which might happen if he is placed fifth. Studies that assigned an ‘importance variable’ to each penalty show the first and fourth penalties have the most significance in terms of affecting the outcome so getting the order right is vital.
Jonas Hector celebrates after scoring the winning penalty for Germany against Italy on Saturday.
3. Wait for the goalkeeper to move first
Across a number of penalty examples over a long period of time, the numbers show this method is a more successful strategy than blasting the ball regardless of where the goalkeeper goes – though technically it’s harder to pull off.
4. Make the kicker wait
Studies show that if a goalkeeper makes a penalty taker wait for between 1.7 to 4.5 seconds before the referee blows his whistle, penalty conversion rates drop to 61 per cent in major tournaments.
5. Player status doesn’t matter
Superstars Roberto Baggio, Michel Platini, Lionel Messi, Diego Maradona, David Beckham, and Cristiano Ronaldo have all missed big penalties at the peak of their careers. Studies have shown that players of ‘high status’ have a worse record in penalties than players who are merely ‘part of the team’. The pressure on these players is greater, and they have more to lose if they miss.
Lionel Messi is one of a number of players who have missed high-profile penalties in their career.
6. Scoring the last goal helps
Momentum plays a big part in the shoot-out, as the team that scored last in the game has a 62 per cent chance of going on to win on penalties.
7. Body language matters
Studies show if a player is successful when the scores are level, and he celebrates with both arms extended out, his team is 82 per cent more likely to go on and win the shoot-out.
8. Don’t rush it
Based on analysis of reaction times from the referee blowing his whistle to the player beginning his run-up, England players waited an average 0.28 seconds before starting their approach. This is quicker than any other nation, and not far off Usain Bolt, whose average reaction time to the starting gun is 0.17 seconds. Waiting just one second can make a big difference.
Leonardo Bonucci celebrates after scoring for Italy from the penalty spot, telling you how easy it is, especially with the eyes–tricking the goalkeeper and letting him move first.
9. Don’t overthink it on the walk
Overthinking a task can lead to a negative result, so players need to have a strategy for what to think about on the dreaded walk to the spot. Focusing on the process – the routine of execution – rather than the outcome is a good start.
10. Goalkeepers can stay central
Nearly 30 per cent of all penalties go down the middle of the goal, but goalkeepers only stay central six per cent of the time. One international goalkeeper, who will be in action at Euro 2016, told me he dives for penalties as otherwise it looks like he’s not trying.