Scientists are helping coaches, keepers and penalty takers minimize the randomness of penalty kicks, which are the key to success in tournaments.
A penalty-taker will try to disguise where he is going to kick the ball. But it’s hard to hide one’s intentions completely. In the fraction of a second before they kick the ball, penalty-takers can betray themselves with the angle of their kicking foot, or by how they plant their standing leg. A good goalkeeper, perhaps instinctively, seems to know this.
Once a penalty-taker’s standing foot hits the ground, a goalkeeper has about half a second to decode the clues from leg positioning, come to a decision about which way the ball will go, and get there. Simple.