Why do the world’s best footballers take such poor penalties? | Football News

DOHA/LONDON: There’s little chance of a penalty shootout at the World Cup over the next two days. There has been at least one in the quarter-finals of the last nine tournaments, culminating in 1986 when three of four matches ended in penalties.
Few of them, however, can have presented such a poor penalty shootout streak as in Qatar’s last 16 games. Japan came out with a whimper as Croatia keeper Dominik Livakovic tamed efforts spared Takumi MinaminoKaoru Mitoma and Maya Yoshida were all denied by Livakovic.
Spain coach Luis Enrique was firmly on the side ‘it’s not a lottery’, saying ahead of his side’s latest clash against Morocco that he had told players to take 1,000 training penalties when they were with their clubs.
Either they weren’t listening or it didn’t work out as the first three players to attempt one all failed to convert. Pablo Sarabia, who was brought on late in the game solely for the job, hit the post while Carlos Soler and Sergio Busquets comfortably salvaged their efforts to put Morocco through.
Having also been knocked out at the same stage on penalties against Russia four years ago, it was an inexplicable performance from a team made up of some of the sport’s most technically talented players.
The most notable aspect of both 2022 shootouts was the shocking quality of kicking. The six penalties saved by the losing teams were all hit without much power and not in the corner, a strategy that left fans and pundits scratching their heads and handed goalkeepers easy wins.
Data firm Nielsen Gracenote analyzed all penalties taken at the last five World Cups, including Qatar, and found that shooting low to the right (50%) or left (68%) has the highest success rate. lower – and even those numbers are not. factor of the distance to the right or to the left.
Unsurprisingly, shots to the top zone, whether wide or central, had a conversion rate of 100% – 20 attempts in this study. While it might seem riskier to go high, only five penalties hit or passed the bar during that time, while seven hit a post or went wide.
Former England striker Alan Shearer had a brilliant penalty record, achieved by usually smashing the ball high into a corner so that even if a goalkeeper dived towards him he had no chance of saving it.
So why do so many players seem unable to sustain their technique to aim for a small but productive top corner and drop down instead? “The margin of error is just a little less aimed at that part of the lens,” Dr Matt Miller-Dicks, a senior lecturer in skills acquisition at the University of Portsmouth, told Reuters.
“You can’t hit a penalty too low because the ground is there, but obviously you can hit it too high, so it’s kind of a safety net. In less pressurized situations, players might be more confident to go to the upper corner.”
Body language and confidence also play a role – with the Japanese players all looking almost terrified as they lined up their efforts. The increasing use of jerky swings and attempts to bamboozle the keeper also often seem to do more harm than good.
“I got a sense of that from some of the lower penalties in those two shootouts, maybe it was a case of players approaching quite slowly in their run, maybe hoping the keeper to goal will kick in one side but not doing so and the shooter doesn’t approach the corner and the keeper makes what looks like a pretty comfortable save,” Miller-Dicks said.
Obviously, the psychological pressure of the situation weighs more heavily on some than others, but Miller-Dicks says the damage can be done long before the player puts the ball on the spot.
“Research shows that some of the things they struggle with are not so much the kick itself, but waiting on the halfway line and walking to take the kick,” he said. he declares.
“If you’re not prepared for that moment, that’s when they might have doubts about what they’re going to do and maybe change where they’re going to land a kick.
“So I think a key thing is that the preparation of the penalty taker is not necessarily about practicing how to take the penalty, it’s about the process. National teams or clubs have a psychologist from the sport and they have to help prepare the players psychologically for this moment.”


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