Now for the science bit!
So apparently its the 120th birthday of the invention of the spot kick so Lucozade Sport decided to get some men in white coats to look at what all the fuss is about. Here are their findings.
We all know the history of the Three Lions and penalties. England has the worst penalty shoot out record of all the major nations, a win rate of a mere 17% in international tournaments, so what better time to break our shoot out curse than on the 120th birthday of the invention of the penalty kick, devised in June 1890 by William McCrum, a member of the Irish Football Association.
Designed to give England the edge in a shoot out, Lucozade Sport worked alongside football analysts Prozone to analyse hours of footage and prove penalty shoot outs can be scientific, and not as England Manager Fabio Capello once said, that “they are a lottery”.
Nick Morgan, Lucozade Sport Lead Sports Scientist, comments: “The formula really reaffirms the importance of practicing penalties. With “Technique” elements accounting for half of a player’s final lps, having a mental image of your perfect penalty could prove decisive in such a pressure situation. It’s the small differences that can make a big difference”.
So just how does the penalty formula work? Firstly, analysis highlighted several key variables that increase the likelihood of a successful penalty kick.
Secondly, these were grouped into the two-part formula, the first part being “Player”, the second being “Technique”.
For example, a “Player” variable might be that right footed players have more success than left footers, a 71% vs. 52% success rate, while a “Technique” variable would be the fact that 87% of penalty kicks aimed in the lop left corner of the goal are successful. See Notes to Editors for a full overview of these variables.
Finally, the indicator function (I) was applied to these variables. The indicator function turns these real-world observations into the 0s and 1s needed to generate mathematical outcomes, and in this case will deliver an overall likely penalty success (lps) score between 0 and 2, 1 for “Player” and 1 for “Technique”.
For example, if a player had three of the four “Player” attributes, his score would be 0.75/1. If that player then used two of the five “Technique” elements to take the penalty, his score would be 0.40/1. Thus the lps would be 1.15/2, giving that player a 58% chance of a likely penalty conversion.
The “Penalty Spotlight” study also uncovered a host of additional insights that further cement the importance of penalty perfection. For example, the team that misses the first penalty goes on to lose the shoot out a huge 78.5% of the time, and while almost a third (64%) of all shoot outs go to the full five penalties, all five are scored a mere 18% of the time.
Personally when I take penalties in Sunday League Football I just blast it hard down the middle, seems to work!