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I haven't really looked in to it, but I had a thought. Penalty shots generally require you to perform a single action correctly. If you fail, there is little wiggle room to explain your failure, because of the lack of obstuction you mentioned above. Meanwhile, during the regular flow of the game, if you take a shot at goal, as long as it is in the goals general direction, people won't fault you individually so much if you miss, as long as you take a shot.

With that being said, do you think these players just crack under pressure? I find that to be more plausible than to say that the best players in the world are just simply terrible at penalty shots.


I think Billy is right.

The simpler the task but the higher the stakes and the more it becomes a mental game.

John Pepple

I don't think they practice penalty kicks much, and so they become bad at them. My evidence here isn't very good because it comes from just one book: Brilliant Orange. The author said the Dutch used to practice penalty kicks, but later on didn't and became bad at taking them. Judging from the poor quality of everyone's kicks these days, I assume hardly anyone practices them.

Anyway, it seems to me that the pressure is on the goalkeeper, which is why decades ago there was a book written called The Goalie's Anxiety at the Penalty Kick. (A movie was also made from the book.) The idea was that it was the goalie who was anxious and not the shooter. Today, it seems to be the exact opposite.

In my limited playing experience, I always welcomed taking a penalty kick because I knew the odds were so much in my favor.

Finally, I have focused on penalty kicks rather than other shots because they seem so easy. But I could talk about other shots taken, because many of them are way off target, too. Most fans don't seem to care, but I do. Again, my experience, for whatever it's worth, was that working on penalty kicks helped with my other shots, too.

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