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. Well, we had a good laugh at them. They tried to tell us our title win was hollow and yet here they are with a cup win that is now precisely that.



    Tavpen finally has the same number of cup medals as Jeremy Tolan, David Gray and oh, a whole team full of St Johnstone players. He must be so proud.



    That’s me done for the season. Have a good summer CQNers



    Hail Hail to the Champions!!

  2. itscalledthemalvinas on

    Usually after a “big game” that the monkeys had won I would be down and getting the drink out and looking at the clock waiting for bedtime. Today ? Not that bothered. Virtually no impact on my mood. That’s all due to them getting beat on Wednesday night. Thank you Eintracht Frankfurt.


    Going out later as well to celebrate a great season. They might be celebrating tonight but deep down they know . . . . . . they are always in our shadow !

  3. GREENPINATA on 21ST MAY 2022 5:39 PM



    You make some good points but on the wrecking Seville thing, there was too much precedent to ignore it as a high likelihood.



    Personally, I’m glad it didn’t turn out bad – would have given me zero pleasure.



    I have all summer (as a champion’s supporter), to work on my conspiracy theory – am I the only one to notice that when the camera panned to the hoardes they looked relatively handsome for that mob (normal service resumed at Hampden).



    I reckon they hired a bunch of out of work Hollywood actors as ringers to play hun fans. That why they left early; to catch the connecting flight to LA.



    It’s all true and I’ll prove it! 😂😂😂😂😂

  4. itscalledthemalvinas on

    Texas Tim


    Strange I noticed that too,most of them had teeth and eyes that looked to be in the right place. Think this proves that it was the well off old firm fans got the tickets and the rubbish were left in the fan zone or back in Scotland. Although there were some big fat weans giving me a fright when the cameras captured them.

  5. CaddingtonCommon on

    120 minutes of football and not a shot on target from the minis. Says it all really.

  6. fitness levels of some rangers players is staggeringly odd – playing > 60 games , recent multiple extra time games, 2 games in a week and still the players were getting up and down the pitch like start of season.



    Someone suggested steroids from asthma – we will never find out but its highly suspicious.



    Thye deserved their win bcoz hearts were simply pathetic for a cup finalist of any sort.



    Bassey best player on the pitch and will be sold for good profit – Soutter better than goldson and will improve them next season.



    We need ball playing physicality to get better

  7. thebhoyfromoz on

    Woman’s UCL final is a very entertaining game. 42mins gone and it’s 3-1 to aLyon over Barca.


    More goals to come I think

  8. Women’s CL final, high quality played at pace. Cracking goals, all down to good attacking play.

  9. PHILCOOL on 21ST MAY 2022 5:22 PM



    Unlucky Martim they won something.




    Then again the are the bestist side in wurruld football.




    Hyperbole fc yes that’s suits




    Hyperbole fc













    😂🤣 I was looking forward to a summer of


    ” you won f$%& all”



    Seen a few out the window in the Southside.



    They are pissed, but not really joyous, look a bit lost, reckon they’ll get home and it will sink in that today doesn’t help much and they’l start to cry.😂🤣

  10. Shocking from Hearts.



    How can their players be out in their feet before 90 mins and Old Firm players power on right through extra time.



    Partially explained by not subbing players, though maybe they didn’t have anyone capable to bring for Sims, for example.



    Also, poor tactics after losing the goal (player of the season should have got that regardless of how hard it was hit). Getting caught on the break when there was plenty of time AND only one goal needed.



    Finally. Referee. He is terrible.

  11. bigrailroadblues on

    Good evening all from the Laurieston Bar. Itscalledthemalvinas 6.21


    “teeth and eyes that looked to be in the right place.” Oh ffs hahahaha 😆 😂

  12. Martim


    I feel so sorry for them.


    Going for the clean sweep


    And only getting one.


    Who do they think they are?







  13. over in dumbarton late afternoon, some sevvies out and about.



    from their general demeanour you could not have known they win their first ever scottish cup today

  14. bigrailroadblues on

    No huns in here. Kids on subway crawl and gig on at academy. And Joe Clancy shouting “cash only”. It’s absolutely mobbed. 😂




    Absolutely correct.



    I passed some of them near McDonalds and they didn’t look like they had won a game let alone the national cup.



    No cheesy grins.





    Not even a smile.

  16. Tom McLaughlin on

    Delighted to see that one of my favourite TV sitcoms of all time is now on BritBox.



    SHELLEY starring the late great Hywell Bennett. Great comedy writing and acring.



    That’s my Saturday evening sorted.



    Hail Hail and goodnight.

  17. Bassey best player on the pitch and will be sold for good profit – Soutter better than goldson and will improve them next season.






    He’ll be injured for most of the season.

  18. Even the hundits at the BBC have mentioned their fitness, the more it gets air time there is more chance they get found out, I have been saying for years they have been taking PED’s, Willie Johnstone back in the day getting sent home from the WC was the first time I took any notice, have done ever since, they are cheats end of.



  19. Not at all sure why I have a soft spot for Sunderland but I do so I`m pleased they won today and would love to see them promoted again next season. Unlikely, though.

  20. As someone who has suffered from asthma for nearly fifty years, I haven`t got a clue which treatments are performance enhancing.



    PS That does not mean i totally dismiss the notion that Olf Firm FC are on something.

  21. If I have to give credit to the Huns, they did source some very good signings. Euuuh – I feel dirty for saying that.

  22. We’ll regret that we didn’t win the treble – the Ibrox club will regret it only won a Scottish Cup.



    If Hearts are the clear third force in Scottish Football, what does that say?



    The game today wasn’t fit for a meaningless end if season game, let alone a national cup-final.



    *Rangers have found a way to stay in every game this season, at home & in Europe – the exception being our 3-0 job on them at Celtic Park. Their fitness levels are remarkable but there seems no real flair – not on Wednesday, not today.



    So that was Gerrard’s team with GVB at the helm – wonder what they will put together to challenge next season. We will be more than ready, that’s for sure!

  23. Back to Basics - Glass Half Full on

    Have you seen Souttar play?



    Pit pony.



    Signed because he is free.

  24. Tom McLaughlin on




    Willie Johnston had been a West Bromwich Albion player for two years before he was sent home from Argentina.



    Using that as the basis for believing today’s Rangers players are on performance enhancing drugs simply beggars belief.



    Puerile logic at its most risible.

  25. JJ


    You taking a drug to alleviate a symptom is totally different than taking the same drug to enhance your performance, just ask Sir Bradley et all

  26. Tom McLaughlin on

    That’s me done with CQN for now.



    I’ll be back for the start of the new season.



    Hail Hail.

  27. HOT SMOKED on 21ST MAY 2022 8:22 PM


    Not at all sure why I have a soft spot for Sunderland but I do so I`m pleased they won today and would love to see them promoted again next season. Unlikely, though.




    Might it be the fact that we thumped them 5-0, Baxter et al, in a friendly at Roker Park at the begining of ’65/’66, just months after Jock Stein took over? I remember, at the time, others more experienced than me saying that’s when they first realised we just might be onto something very special with the Big Man. Nine of that team were in the Lions’ squad.