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  • 0.4 seconds.

  • That's the time it takes you to blink.

  • It's also about how long goalkeepers have to save a penalty kick or fail trying.

  • And it's certainly not enough time for a goalie to react and respond.

  • So goalies can't solely rely on their speed and agility to save a penalty kick.

  • Instead they have to pretty much guess which direction to go and rely on either luck or game theory.

  • [Why penalty kicks are so unfair to the goalies]

  • Game theory is a popular strategy in economics where the outcome of a situation relies more on how well you predict your opponent's actions than how you perform your own.

  • So since the goalie has no choice but to guess, they're better off guessing logically than randomly.

  • That's where economists come in.

  • I would like to know what you do in the last 80 penalty kicks you faced?

  • Do you have any tendencies?

  • What does this guy do against right-footed kickers versus left-footed kickers?

  • That's economist Ignacio Palacios-Huerta.

  • He studied over 11,000 penalty kicks, and in 2008 during the UEFA Champions League Final, it paid off, sort of.

  • It was Manchester United against Chelsea.

  • The game came down to a penalty shootout which was the perfect opportunity for Chelsea to put Huerta's advice into action.

  • Along with several pointers Huerta had given Chelsea's goalie a key insight about Manchester United star Cristiano Ronaldo.

  • Ronaldo would almost certainly kick the ball to the right if he paused on the run-up.

  • And the advice worked.

  • Ronaldo indeed paused and indeed kicked the ball to the right.

  • Chelsea's goalie followed Huerta's advice and made the save.

  • Ultimately Manchester United won the game, but despite Chelsea's loss, it was clear that economists and statisticians can help even the odds when it comes to penalty kicks.

  • Because otherwise, it's a crap shoot for the goalie.

  • In 2014 for example, FiveThirtyEight calculated that 72.5% of penalties in World Cup history went in.

  • For all competitions worldwide, it's even higher.

  • And when you take a closer look, it's no wonder.

  • Human response time takes roughly 1/10 of a second to kick in.

  • The average kicker kicks a 70 mile per hour ball, which means the goalie won't even register the ball's direction until it's about 25 feet away.

  • It will take him another .5 to .7 seconds to react and reach for the ball, but by that point, it's all over.

  • Now the goalie can improve the odds if they start to move before the ball is even kicked,

  • but the goalie still has to basically guess a side and just go for it.

  • So if time is the goalie's enemy, maybe we should just move the penalty kicker further back.

  • But for now, economists are a goalie's best friend when it comes to stopping penalty kicks,

  • and turns out, Huerta is helping a team in the 2018 World Cup, though he wouldn't tell us who.

0.4 seconds.

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Why Penalty Kicks Are Unfair To The Goalie

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    Evangeline posted on 2021/03/08
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