Bray and Kerwin on Penalties

In comments, I referred to Dr. Ken Bray’s book, How To Score: Science and the Beautiful Game. Warmly recommended – even the relatively weak chapter on psychology, which at least gets beyond the English obsession with “motivation” and “inspiration”, and gives you a good idea of what it was Erickson was trying to achieve and why it might have gone wrong in the end.
Here is a summary of his and David Kerwin’s excellent breakdown of the physical penalty kick, complete with diagram.

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5 responses to “Bray and Kerwin on Penalties

  1. My point about taking penaly kicks as though they are corners in penalty shoot outs ie with an angled run up is the way that this allows you to swing through the ball naturally putting it either side of the goalkeeper off the ground. This makes it easier for people who are not regular penalty takers to practise it. You can also hit the ball with power. Having the ball in front of you and running towards the goalkeepr is avoided. You’re running past him as it were and delivering a lateral blow. It’s far less one on one. Plus he can’t guess which side you are going to put it. You bend the ball effortlessly by swinging through it. Mental preparation is another thing, but your body is in a better shape when you do it my way.

  2. The unsaveable zone is 28% of the goal’s area. Of the remaining 72%, half will be in practice “unsaveable” if the goalie dives the other way. So a total of 54% is unsaveable if all you ask of the penalty taker is that he hits it randomly but “on target”: the odds favour the penalty taker subject to that modest requirement that he be “on target”.

  3. Dearie Me, you’re talking about percentages, but we want is a successful penalty not one with a 54% chance of going in.

  4. The fact remains that every single member of the England squad in 2006, 2004, 1998, 1996 and 1990 was technically equipped to score a penalty. Technique just isn’t our weakness when it comes to penalties. Michael Owen was right when he said that you can practice your technique all day, but it’s not going to help you in a shoot-out situation in which you can no longer feel your legs (through fear, not through fatigue).
    One of the ongoing themes in Vialli’s “The Italian Job” is that Italian players regard what they do as a job, the English regard it as a game, and therein I suspect are to be found psychological differences and distinctions by the bucketload.

  5. I’m suggesting the swing through is a more automatic/robotic movement hence easier to perform when under stress. I lived in Italy for ten years so I do know where Vialli’s coming from. He put more muscle on with creatine and weights than any footballer I’ve ever seen so he certainly took his job seriously. He was also famously from a privileged background which may colour his remarks. But on the whole I think I accept what you say. Sandro Altobelli captain of Inter (who else) once said after four games of one season in which the team had not played well and had some poor results “Of course we can’t win the title this year.” He later became a Christain Democrat local politician. Another job!!