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How to save a Penalty

Sulayman Kone

By Sulayman KonePublished 14 days ago 6 min read

with a penalty an entire football game

comes down to two people 11 against 11

becomes one-on-one penalty taker versus

keeper back in the Wild West we had the

duel in the modern word we've got the

penalty I'm the tiger the ball is the

prey that's how I used to motivate

myself he's finished I almost mud tub it

takes just over two seconds from the

run-up to the ball hitting the net or

not two seconds in which a game can be


a final an entire World Cup

that's the one chance the goalkeeper has

to do something there is absolutely

decisive in the game

so if penalties are that important and

when heroes can be born and careers can

be destroyed you should learn how to

save a penalty. there are many theories about little

hints telling the keeper what the taker

is going to do one of them says that the

moment of the shot the tip of the boot

of the standing leg indicates the

direction of the shot and indeed that's

scientifically and statistically proven

but there's no time to see that or react

by the time you have seen it the shots

already on its way so if the ball is

already moving the keeper barely has a

chance to save the ball so if you want

to save a penalty it's not a question of

reaction there must be something else

what else the 1982 World Cup saw the

first penalty shootout in the

tournament's history the semi-final

between West Germany and France

tony Schumacher saved to ensuring West

Germany progressed to the final in total

Schumacher Parrott for penalties and

World Cups

no keeper has ever saved more how did he

do it first you have to do your homework

I once said I'd invented the database

lucky my early plane days I'd asked my

friends to look out for shootouts I know

down the name of the club the name of

the shooter of which he used and how he

shot low medium high and I'd entered the

information big data was already the key

word so let's take a closer look at the

stats maths and physics with a penalty

the speed of the ball is between sixty

and a hundred and twenty kilometers per


if the taker shoots at let's say 90 km/h

in the distance to the goal is 11 meters

we need the distance divided by the

speed 11 meters divided by 90 km/h is 25

meters per second so it lasts 0.44


the blink of an eye of course if you

shoot in the corner the distance is a

bit bigger so you can add 0.02 seconds

human reaction time is between 0.1 and

0.15 seconds plus there's the mass of

your own body that you have to move

which means it is nearly impossible to

save a penalty if you just focus on the

ball the more you think about penalties

the mysterious it gets there are so many

parameters you have to keep in mind one

I have an example FIFA says that the

grass during the World Cup has to be two

point eight centimeters high

there are around 1,000 blades of grass

growing on the penalty spot the problem

is they are growing in different

directions and the problem gets worse

after 90 a hundred twenty minutes the

box is messed up six times worse than

the rest of the pitch believe me there

was a study of the University of horn hi

if the grass is disturbed too much the

ball relied too low and even more

importantly the standing foot of the

taker can slip at the decisive moment I

don't know if Oaks bookkeeper Marvin

hits knew that in December 2015 during

an away game in Cologne he trampled the

grass on and around the penalty spot

with his boots the taker slipped and

missed the penalty by the way the

penalty was wrongly awarded but Augsburg

won the game 1-0 and cologne sent an

invoice of a hundred and twenty two

euros and ninety to send to Marvin hits

for the spoiled spot a pretty good deal

I'd say okay the pitch can play a role

but what else

if the taker is ready we are entering

the word of Psychology we should be

encouraged by the words of manwë neue

one of the best keepers in the history

of football what does he think about

penalties I love it in the game because

normally a goalkeeper only can win

because as the pressures on the striker

and you can be a hero and even the best

players can fail from the spot in sports

and it's called choking under pressure

the pressure on the taker is so huge

that he's starting to overthink things

their movements which are normally

totally subconscious are suddenly made

consciously that's why even the best

players miss penalties they are thinking

too much you could call it paralysis

through analysis


Jonathan Wilson has written a book about

goalkeepers he knows all about this

phenomenon is he gonna go left is he

gonna go right the goal key was trying

to guess which way and he might know

that that take a he might know that the

last seven papers he's taking the gun to

his left so he's gonna go to his left

again or is he gonna Bluff and go to his

right or is he gonna double bluff and

pretend to go to the right and go to the

left does he know that you know do you

know that he knows that you know that

means welcome to the eternal spiral of

cycle tracks pointed towards the corner

where the stat said he always shot so

then he had the problem - ooh muffin

know that when will he dive that way I

did try to put him under a bit of

pressure so how you increase mental

pressure in 2006 Germany keeper Yin's

Lehmann came up with an amazing

psychological trick during the penalty

shooter in the quarter-final against


he was given a crib sheet from his coach

with the Preferences of some of the

Argentinian penalty takers first couple

of penalties he happened to guess right

they weren't even on the list but

because he was looking at this list and

then guessing right the other of

argentinian penalty takers were thinking

he knows what we're going to do he's got

on this piece of paper yeah there

there's every detail of what we're about

to do and that increases the pressure on

them because they're not just thinking

how do I score this penalty they're

trying to second-guess what Lima is

going to do based on the piece of paper

Esteban Cambiasso was to take the

decisive penalty and the psychological

impact was devastating

just imagine standing on the penalty

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