Every professional footballer has the ability to a strike a ball with a certain level of accuracy – you would hope so considering the amount they get paid to do it – so that raises the question, why can’t they put the ball past a keeper from 12 yards? How much can pressure and crowd noise influence the ability to kick a football?
Manchester United’s clash with Sunderland in the Capital One cup semi-final last night showed that hitting the goal from a penalty is clearly not as easy as it appears. Players seem to either produce a timid spot kick due to holding back, or conversely they blaze it over the bar whilst trying to take the net off. The psychology in taking a penalty is one which a large percentage of footballers struggle to deal when in a shoot-out situation.
Historically, this is an issue which has affected the very best. Notably Roberto Baggio in ’94 handing the World Cup to Brazil. It’s not easy to forget England’s record in high profile shoot-outs, where the sight of Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard (both reliable for Chelsea and Liverpool respectively) turning away with there head in hands is not an unfamiliar sight.
With Phil Jones, Danny Welbeck and Adam Johnson all failing to convert their spot kicks last night, England fans should not be filled with confidence for the inevitable World Cup Quarter Final penalty shoot-out this summer.