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What is the relationship between the direction of a penalty kick and success rate?

By: Sam Borgel

1/20/14

Mrs. Wicks

What is the relationship between the direction of a penalty kick and success rate?

Introduction:

The penalty shootout has been in the game of soccer since the sport has existed. It is the

means of deciding a winner when the scores are tied at the end of regulation time. Though it is

often criticized, nobody can come up with anything better. So, it will be around for years to

come. By studying penalty shootouts, a person can figure out where the best spot to place a kick

is and where the goalkeeper will most likely dive.

Purpose:

For my Internal Assessment topic I will be studying penalty kicks in soccer. I will

specifically be looking at success percentage in nine different areas of the goal, middle, top

middle, bottom middle, left middle, top left, bottom left, middle right, top right, and bottom

right. The area of math that this topic is placed into is probability and statistics. I choose this

topic because I believe that if I learn where the highest probability of scoring a penalty kick is

then I will be able to apply it to myself and improve as a player.

Data:

Penalty Shots Taken

Made 131

Saved 59

Total 190

This data shows the total number of penalty shots taken, and out of those how many were made

and how many were missed.

Top

Left

Middle

Left

Bottom

Left

Top

Middle

Middle Bottom

Middle

Top

Right

Middle

Right

Bottom

Right

Made 18 18 30 10 5 3 3 16 28

Saved 4 6 19 1 0 7 2 3 17

Total 22 24 49 11 5 10 5 19 45

This data shows the positioning of the data, the total number of shots aimed in a certain position,

how many were made, and how many shots were saved.

Graphs:

This data shows the percentage values from the penalty shots aimed at the top left of the goal.

Out of the twenty-two shots taken at the top left, 82% of them were successful, and 18% of them

were unsuccessful.

This data shows the percentage values from the penalty shots aimed at the middle left of the goal.

Out of the twenty-four shots taken at the middle left, 75% of them were successful, and 25% of

them were unsuccessful.

82%

18%

Top Left

Made

Saved

75%

25%

Middle Left

Made

Saved

This data shows the percentage values from the penalty shots aimed at the bottom left of the

goal. Out of the forty-nine shots taken at the bottom left, 61% of them were successful, and 33%

of them were unsuccessful.

This data shows the percentage values from the penalty shots aimed at the top middle of the goal.

Out of the eleven shots taken at the top middle, 91% of them were successful, and 9% of them

were unsuccessful.

61%

39%

Bottom Left

Made

Saved

91%

9%

Top Middle

Made

Saved

This data shows the percentage values from the penalty shots aimed at the middle of the goal.

Out of the five shots taken at the middle, 100% of them were successful, and 0% of them were

unsuccessful.

This data shows the percentage values from the penalty shots aimed at the bottom middle of the

goal. Out of the ten shots taken at the bottom middle, 30% of them were successful, and 70% of

them were unsuccessful.

100%

0%

Middle

Made

Saved

30%

70%

Bottom Middle

Made

Saved

This data shows the percentage values from the penalty shots aimed at the top right of the goal.

Out of the five shots taken at the top left, 60% of them were successful, and 40% of them were

unsuccessful.

This data shows the percentage values from the penalty shots aimed at the middle right of the

goal. Out of the 19 shots taken at the middle right, 84% of them were successful, and 16% of

them were unsuccessful.

60%

40%

Top Right

Made

Saved

84%

16%

Middle Right

Made

Saved

This data shows the percentage values from the penalty shots aimed at the bottom right of the

goal. Out of the forty-five shots taken at the bottom right, 90% of them were successful, and 10%

of them were unsuccessful.

90%

10%

Bottom Right

Made

Saved

Limitation:

1. Borderline Decisions: Some of the penalty shots were arguable on whether they were in a

certain position of the goal. Such as, the player shoots the ball but someone could argue

that is was in the top left while another person argues that the shot was in the middle left.

So I had to make a decision where the goal would be placed.

2. Valid Penalty: Another decision I had to make was whether the shot would be considered

saved if the ball hit the frame of the goal.

3. How many: How many penalty kicks should I watch? I gave myself a two hour window

to watch as many penalty shootouts as I could, and I ended up recording 190 penalty

kicks. This might not be enough to have accurate recordings.

4. Penalties Everyday: There are penalty kicks being taken every day. This means that the

data will be changing every day.

Conclusion:

From the data I have collected, the best spot to aim at is straight down the middle. This

may not be true every time though. Also from the data I have collected, the worst spot to aim

when taking a penalty kick is at the bottom middle of the goal. This is so because a keeper will

still have his legs in that spot for a second when he starts to dive one direction, and the ball will

probably take less than a second to get to the goal line. The bottom left and right of the goal is

where most players will aim the ball when taking a penalty kick, 94 times in total. This also

means that the keeper will dive to that position most often. The middle left and middle right of

the goal also contribute to quite a few penalty shots, where the keepers will extend an arm and

save the shot when they dive to a corner.

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