Secrets of a shootout
Breaking down 35 tiebreakers in Euro and World Cup history
IN TERMS OF SHEER HUMAN DRAMA, there isn't an event in sports that can rival a penalty shootout. It's soccer gone Russian roulette, with entire nations often hanging on every shot. Who knows. Euro 2012 might deliver the most agonizing one yet. So The Mag watched all 35 World Cup and Euro shootouts since the first tiebreaker in 1976 -- and plucked studies from across the pond -- to learn the tricks of sneaking it past the keeper.
TRUST YOUR AIMNo offense to keepers, but when a shooter is staring down a 24-by-8 goal from just 12 yards out, no one expects to see a save. That expectation was backed up by our study: 258 of the 343 penalty kicks (75 percent) found the back of the net. The highest rates of success were kicks aimed to the top right (21 of 23) and straight down the middle (19 of 23).
BUT PICK YOUR SPOTSShooters aimed bottom left (18.7 percent) and bottom right (16.6 percent) most often, but converted just 73 percent of these kicks combined.
ESPN The Magazine: May 28, 2012