Penalty Shoot Outs

Last year I attended a computer science conference at Dagstuhl.

The theme was football.

At the conference Tim McGarry spoke about penalties and free kicks. His analysis of data from the 1976ā€“2008 European Championships and 1978ā€“2010 World Cups revealed that “the fourth-placed penalty taker in penalty shoot-outs was reported to be much less successful, for whatever reason, than other penalty takers in the line sequence. The data yielded 0.81, 0.77, 0.79, 0.54 and 0.75 scoring probabilities for the first through fifth placed penalty takers, respectively”.

He raised a very interesting question during his presentation … if you were a coach what order of penalty takers would you plan for a winning penalty shoot out?

I was thinking about his question during Euro 2012. The last two games in the knockout stage of the Tournament have been decided by penalty shoot outs.

The sequence in England v Italy:

Portugal v Spain

It is interesting to note the patterns in these shoot-outs.

Perhaps the answer to Tim’s question is “best penalty taker third and second best fourth” and to consider regulatory fit.

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