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The perfect penalty

Professor reveals optimum spot-kick technique

Last Updated: 13/03/09 11:16am

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Tottenham Hotspur take heed - and perhaps even John Terry too...

The components of the perfect penalty have been pinpointed once and for all by Liverpool John Moores University using Sky+HD technology.

Footage captured by the Sky Sports high definition cameras, now installed at the back of football nets, have enabled Director of Sport & Exercise Sciences at Liverpool John Moores University, Professor Tim Cable, to study last season's UEFA Champions League and this season's Premier League penalties, to pinpoint the optimum technique for taking winning spot-kicks.

Professor Cable's perfect penalty tips come following Arsenal's dramatic penalty shoot-out win over Arsenal and are as follows:


* The ball needs to cross the goal line at exactly 0.5m below crossbar and 0.5m inside the post.

* The ball needs to be kicked at a speed greater than 65mph.

* This requires a run up of 5/6 steps.

* The striker needs to commence his run up from the edge of 18 yard line with an angle of approach of 20-30 degrees to the ball.


A penalty strike following these guidelines - requiring extreme accuracy and speed - is, according to Professor Cable, a 'high-risk strategy' but 'virtually unstoppable' by a goalkeeper. With dedicated practice, it would ensure a 100% scoring rate.

Professor Cable said: "Technological advancement is bringing new levels of insight into the nuances of sport.

"Because high-definition footage is so much more detailed and clearer than standard transmissions, every move of a player taking a penalty can be scrutinised. Many factors make up a 'perfect penalty' but we believe we've finally nailed the key elements."

Sky Sports football expert, former Southampton midfielder and legendary penalty-taker Matt Le Tissier, who himself scored 47 out of 48 penalties, explains: "Throughout my career, my team-mates, my coaches and I were always debating the best way to take a penalty.

"I'd always done well with mine but had high-definition footage been around to study, perhaps I would have scored that elusive 48th penalty!"

Professor Cable offers further insight into what makes a good penalty. For an 80% success rate, strikers should bear in mind the following:

* The ball needs to cross the goal-line approximately 0.7m inside either goal post and at ground, or just above ground level.

* This is more of a "placement" type penalty rather than powerful, and needs to reach a speed of between 45-55mph.

* The penalty taker routinely approaches this with five steps, although the angle of approach to the ball may be greater, reaching up to 45¢ª.

* "Body Deception" - this requires a player to approach the ball as if to hit into one corner but direct it into the other and to place his support (non-kicking foot) slightly further forward (by a couple of inches) than when placing ball into left corner. A perfect example of this was Carlos Tevez's penalty during this season's Wigan vs Manchester United game - it is almost impossible to tell where the penalty is going until ball contact.

* To turn this penalty into an unstoppable one, optimum deception (i.e. almost at ball contact, like Tevez) is required.

Sky broadcasts more football than ever in high definition, and has introduced HD cameras into the back of nets to give the complete on-the-ground viewing experience.

Further findings:

The worst penalty

* Hit, either at speed or slower crossing the line greater than 0.8m inside either post (i.e. middle of goal). This dramatically increases risk by goalkeeper - potentially even if dived wrong way.

* Any penalty hit straight is more likely to fail and suggests lack of practice and confidence in ability of player.

* Player should avoid any shuffle or stop to run up as this reduces contact velocity and ball speed and may not only deceive goalkeeper but provoke confusion in penalty taker.

To avoid taking worst penalty

i) Practice accuracy

ii) Practice deception

iii) Improve impact velocity and therefore ball speed

iv) Practice with team mate causing distraction

v) Practice in all weather conditions particularly in the wet

vi) Penalty takers should have predetermined mind set on where shot is going before commencing run up and should execute this

vii) Ensure stability of support leg (i.e. non-kicking leg) at ball contact in wet conditions

viii) For perfect results aim top left, top right

ix) Practice, practice, practice

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