The science of penalties: Goal size, distance from the ball and reaction times put the odds overwhelmingly in a shooter’s favour
Picture the scene: Your nation has made it to the 2014 World Cup Final and the game has gone to a penalty shootout.
In dramatic fashion your opponents miss a spot-kick giving your captain the chance to win the tournament, but what are the odds on him scoring? As it turns out, exceedingly high.
Not only does he have an area bigger than a cargo container to aim for, but the slow reaction times of any given person compared to a kicked ball in tandem with psychological preparation should – should – seen him put the ball away with ease.
Who are the brilliant scientists yet again pouring over how to take a penalty, in the now-obviously-fruitless hope the England football team might make it to the knockout round?
In research commissioned by Gillette for Brunel University in London they found that World Class footballers can anticipate the actions of an opponent up to 80 milliseconds before they move.
As any scientist will tell you, the best research comes after being commissioned by a shaving company ahead of a tournament they’ve a sponsorial relationship with.