Well done to Julian and mnvnath, for their incisive posts. I totally reject the view often espoused by England football leaders that “you cannot prepare for penalty shootouts”. Of course you cannot entirely replicate the actual tension of the moment, but that certainly does not mean that you cannot try to simulate the shootout scenario via activities that get the heart racing or the legs feeling like jelly or the extra crowd volume or any number of other things that increase the degree of difficulty during training activities. And how well planned and rehearsed is the order of penalty takers and their pre-shot routines? How much effort is put in to automatise the required motor programs via visualisation and how well are the skills practised under duress? The attitude seems to be that you can’t practice for it so we’ll just see who’s “up for it” at the time. This amateurish approach has resulted in, for example, David Batty stepping up and missing the crucial penalty in World Cup 1998 having apparently not previously taken a penalty in a competitive game since primary school. Ludicrous! The list of England football luminaries who have missed penalties in shootouts at major international competitions – Stuart Pearce, Chris Waddle, Gareth Southgate, Paul Ince, David Beckham, Darius Vassall, Frank Lampard, Steve Gerrard, Jamie Carragher, Ashley Young, Ashley Cole – provides one of the most embarrassing role calls in English sporting history. It’s about time the England football hierarchy explored ways to prepare the team for penalty shootouts with a bit more attention to detail. OK, soapbox moment over!!