Why Players Miss Penalty Shoot-Outs

June 19, 2014 in Daily Bulletin

Players from the Czech Republic have never missed a single penalty shoot-out, while Germans have won all their World Cup shoot-outs. In contrast the British and the Dutch are pretty shoddy at them. Why the difference? The Economist offered its perspective:

  • Shoot-outs are individualistic and allow time for thinking – unlike the rest of the game. It is a test of nerve, not athleticism.
  • Shoot-out results might have become a self-fulfilling prophecy. English and Dutch players may have internalized the idea that they’re bad at shoot-outs, and so they don’t train for them causing players to miss even more of them.
  • It might also be about culture. Collectivist cultures are better at shoot-outs than individualistic ones. This is because those from a collectivist culture know that if they fail they won’t have to shoulder the blame alone.
  • This is probably also the reason why star players are worse at them than unknown ones. The star ones know they will get a lot of attention if they fail.
  • There are other types of pressures. Teams that go first in shoot-outs have the advantage since catching up to a score is more stressful than leading it.
  • Players are also more likely to flub a shot which would prevent them losing a match, than one which lets them win.

Read more about the different psychological factors affecting performance, the role of “emotional contagion” and what players should do to be successful at shoot-outs over here.

Source: The Economist