Penalties, systematic advantages, practice, always celebrate


Penalty competitions are not decided by random luck.  Teams from higher divisions win against lower division opponents more often than the reverse, by 8 percentage points.  That advantage pales into insignificance compared to the benefits of going first in a penalty competition.

A 2010 study published in the American Economic Review found a systemic first-mover advantage.  Teams going first in a penalty competition won on 60% of occasions.  The study found players had more success taking a kick that would put them into the lead, than when they were merely drawing level.

The difference was most pronounced comparing a kick to win a competition, which had a 92% conversion rate, with a kick to avoid defeat, which was successful on 62% of occasions.  This is a manifestation of Loss Aversion.  The fear of losing something hugely impacts our behaviour, far more than the prospect of winning does.  I could get distracted here and say the fear of losing 10-in-a-row took hold at Celtic Park, at the cost of where heads should have been.

Another 2010 study examined Emotional Contagion and penalty competitions.  Players who celebrated after their kick were more likely to be on the winning side than those who quietly returned to the centre circle.  Specifically, a player who immediately follows an opponent that celebrates extravagantly is more likely to miss than when this factor is controlled for.

This study’s conclusion is quite fascinating, “that emotional contagion is an important process in the context of elite sport performance.”  From all these years writing and reading CQN, I could suggest that emotional contagion works in all aspects of life.  It is a real thing that has an impact on those around us.

A 2012 article in Economic Inquiry promoted a tweak to penalty competitions.  Instead of Team A always kicking ahead of Team B, it suggested Team A – Team B, then Team B – Team A, or ABBA, not ABAB.  The ABBA system has been trialed and proven to eliminate the first-mover advantage, however, various authorities have thought it too confusing for fans!

Practice is a whole other area, one that was rejected on these shores for many years.  The challenge here is that the problem for an elite professional is not to kick a ball 12 yards, but to do so in acute circumstances that are impossible to replicated on the training field.

A 2010 study out of University of Plymouth found that practice through Functional Imagery Training was found to improve penalty kick outcomes (other types of practice, which were used as a control, did not).  So practice, but only if you know how to practice.

I also read a study that found if you are facing your own fans you are more likely to win a penalty competition, but I can’t find it……

We put a lot of work into finding advantages at Celtic.  Improving penalty outcomes is one of the clearest benefits we can achieve.  It is a bit too late for others.

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  1. Sevco 2 ahead.



    On the plus side, them sticking with GVB would be absolutely fine by me.

  2. Weebobbycollins on

    To be honest, Hearts have been useless all game with their failed long ball tactics.

  3. Robbie Neilson tactical masterclass had produced zero shots on goalin 100 mins of football

  4. Weebobbycollins on

    Knackered or not, thems players are much more skillful that their Gorgie counterparts…


    and Bassey has been good…

  5. Absolutely delighted to win the league. From where we were last season, it’s beyond my wildest dreams.



    However, and I know I’m being hugely greedy here but there’s a tinge of regret we lost a bit of spark at 1-0 against them in the cup. We’d be looking at a nice shiny treble now because I’m convinced we’d have blown Hearts away.

  6. ……’member lhads……………….



    It disnae matter………..and it keeps Gio in the hot seat…………………..




  7. GVB seems too nice to be the huns’ manager. I don’t see much of them but on today’s evidence, it’s an absolute freak that they reached any kind of European final. They’ll need to recruit quite a few players.

  8. I’m afraid Craig will have to settle for his 2 trebles, invincible season, 5 leagues, 2 Scottish cups and 5 league cups




  9. I’m lovin it……they won’t know whether to laugh or cry… or go home…..”We won the cup……but at the same time we didny”



  10. Some championship team might take a punt on Bassey. His strength and power makes him look decent up here. Not so easy in English leagues.

  11. They’ll need to be back for preason training for the CL qualifiers in a day or two 😆

  12. Weebobbycollins on

    Finally! Awe them fireworks they’ve been haudin’ oan tae can be let aff noo. Lookin’ oot ma earplugs.

  13. Unlucky Martim they won something.


    Then again the are the bestist side in wurruld football.


    Hyperbole fc yes that’s suits


    Hyperbole fc





  14. I was looking forward to a 9am kick off on ESPN but it’s been a shite game.



    Ended up reading my phone with the game on in background.



    Hope they never put the benches back in George Square, although even der hun knows this is a hollow victory, even if it’s their 55th (sic) cup win.

  15. Ridiculous level of fitness.



    Really good game management by their manager who is too nice a bloke for the job.



    Probably overclaim if they do state it is a greater achievement than Lisbon 67 but remember to win a league and a cup in your first 11 seasons is pretty commendable.



    Without evidence of their ‘doping’ or ‘cheating’ I do find it hard to be critical of their performance today. A bit like when they played us from about 77 minutes onward there was only one team going to win.

  16. There’s a reason Hearts finished almost 40 points behind Celtic in the league. From middle to front they have nothing, no quality at all.


    The Scottish Cup moves from a room in Perth to a room in the south side of Glasgow. Big deal.

  17. Guys,



    Never watched the hun game , no interest. In Leeds all TVs were focused on Wembley.



    Can we laugh though? 2003 was a memorable seasons for me, but what did we win ?


    We brought out books and videos, yet we won nothing, ziltch.



    I am soooo glad the huns fell at Seville, but factually their season was better than ours in 2003.



    We said :-



    The huns European run was lucky every tie. The odds say otherwise 128 to 1 to be lucky seven times in a row.



    The huns will wreck Saville, we hoped as we loudly proclaimd.. It never happened.



    The huns will win f@ck all this season. Factually incorrect.



    My friends in Celtic, let’s focus on Celtic because our hatred of the huns sometimes makes us look stupid.



    And one thing I do know, is that Ange is not stupid and will focus on Celtic positives rather than ” Rangers” negatives.



    Collectively we are not stupid blog, but let’s focus on Celtic.




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