New mathematical analysis outlines the most successful penalty kick, down to placement and speed.
Joe Warren, goalkeeper for the NSC Stars soccer team, can teach us all a thing or two about stopping penalty kicks. Warren, who came out of retirement after four years, is 3 for 3 in stopping penalties kicks this season. The first two were to his right – low or centered. On Saturday night the Stars were called for yet another penalty in the box. Miami FC forward Abe Thompson stepped up to the spot. This time he went to Warren’s left, but again the 35-year-old keeper blocked the hard shot pushing it wide of the goal.
Warren’s phenomenal PK record caused me to look at a link a friend has sent me this past week on new statistical analysis of penalty shots and how they can give clues to the shooters to be more successful in beating goalkeepers.
The penalty kick has been around for a long time. In fact it’s been 119 years since the very first spot kick was taken. But through the years the sport of football/soccer has become more important because the stakes are so much higher. In many parts of the world the game is more than fun competition but instead it means big money. Yet many tournaments often come down to penalty kicks. So Liverpool’s John Moores University decided it was high time to conduct a scientific study on the spot kick. The results from the data conclude that a “perfect penalty is a ball that is struck high, targeted precisely to the right or left of the goalie, and fast, traveling at 90 to 104 kilometers per hour (56 to 64 miles per hour).”
The article from Discovery News states: Moving swiftly to take the penalty (less than three seconds after the whistle is blown) gives the striker the element of surprise, while delaying the strike by more than 13 seconds makes the keeper unsettled, according to the researchers, who looked at decades of international matches involving England.
Waiting for the goalkeeper to move also boosted chances. However, waiting longer than 0.41 milliseconds caused a scoring chance to be halved. A run-up of four to six steps was the most successful approach, while a long run-up of 10 meters (32.8 feet) was the least.
The University of Exeter in southwest England has also done work on this subject in regard to players’ eye movements when approaching to strike the ball.
In the first series, the players were simply asked to do their best to score. In the second, they were told the results would be recorded and shared with the other players, with a bounty of 50 pounds ($83) for the best penalty-taker.
The more anxious the penalty-taker was, the likelier he was to look at, and focus on, the centrally-positioned goalkeeper. And because gaze control and motor control are tightly coordinated, the player’s shot also centralized, making it far easier for the shot to be saved.
The article states one should chose a spot before approaching the ball and shoot while totally ignoring the keeper, his movements and even the color of his clothing.
If the data from these studies isn’t enough, you could just ask Joe Warren to give you a few tips. It’s hard to argue with a guy who’s 3-for-3 in stopping the spot kick.