Reply To: Preparing for penalties

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Julian Fernandez

For obvious reasons, one might not be able to “fully reproduce the tension, the occasion, and the nervousness of a penalty shootout”, as Mr. Hodgson says (you can’t fill a whole stadium with rival team’s fans whenever you want to) but that doesn’t mean you can’t do some other things to become better (or at the very least improving the odds) when faced with such situation.

I think there’s a betraying sense of self-defeat in both Hodgson’s (“There’s no amount of coaching or training that can reproduce that [Andrea Pirlo’s calculating way and confidence]”) and Rooney’s words (“It’s happened too many times now. Hopefully there’s going to come a time when we win one.”)

Hopefully? That’s not exactly a word I would expect any professional athlete to use. I don’t think you just hope for the occasion to be favorable. You go out and train and practice and do everything that is in your hands to improve.

Since penalty shootouts have already become England’s bête noire I would start by suggesting a mental reset, focusing on the moment, and reframing what penalty kicks are: a privileged position for the attacker to score, alone, face to face against the goalkeeper (who by the way has to stand right on the goal line).

Also, technology to statistically analyze every single aspect of a match exists. We have read in the textbook how the Austalian rowing teams were organized based on individual performances, as well as how each of the rowers performed when matched with their team mates. Or how the performance of Korean archers changed depending on their order within the team. I think it would be feasible to do the same with penalty shooters in football

(I assume something like that is alread intuitively being done in football, but the process could be better…)

“Obviously some decisive players miss less because they have the right coolness and concentration and they’re used to this type of pressure,” Prandelli told reporters (emphasis mine).

Every football team could start by focusing on that concentration and pressure management Prandelli talks about.