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J Sports Sci. 2007 Jan 15;25(2):121-9.

Kicks from the penalty mark in soccer: the roles of stress, skill, and fatigue for kick outcomes.

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Centre for Human Movement Sciences, University of Groningen, University Medical Center, Groningen, The Netherlands.


The soccer "penalty shootout" in the knock-out phase of major international tournaments is one of the most dramatic events in international soccer. The outcome of these kicks is typically attributed to factors such as psychology (e.g. coping with stress), skill (e.g. kicking technique), physiology (e.g. overcoming the fatigue of 120 min play), and chance (e.g. in what direction the goalkeeper moves). The purpose of this study was to use internet game record data to estimate the relative importance of these performance components for the outcome of penalty kicks in international matches. Data were collected from soccer statistics internet sites on all 41 penalty shootouts and 409 kicks taken in the World Cup, European Championships, and Copa America between 1976 and 2004. The results showed that the importance of the kicks (indicative of stress) was negatively related to the outcomes of the kicks, whereas skill and fatigue were less, or not, related to outcome. It was concluded that psychological components are most influential for the outcome of penalty kicks. We recommend that practitioners work with players to reduce the perceived importance of each kick.

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