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. “ERNIE LYNCH on 22ND MAY 2022 6:44 PM


    SAINT STIVS on 22ND MAY 2022 1:43 PM


    They’ll be dancing in the streets of Abu Dhabi tonight.


    Well they would be, if it wasn’t against the law.“



    “ERNIE LYNCH on 22ND MAY 2022 6:46 PM


    Not sure why that post was directed at Saint Stivs.


    It’s not like it’s his fault.“



    For a poster who often comes over as a dry, cynical sort of guy, you display a sense of humour that certainly makes me laugh.

  2. BIGRAILROADBLUES on 22ND MAY 2022 8:38 PM



    Are you doing your bit to help out with beer sales during Big Jimmy`s forced abstemious period?

  3. bigrailroadblues on

    Hot smoked 8.40. I was with Jimmy on Thursday in the Shipbank and he certainly wasn’t abstemious 😁. I may have been steaming. Allegedly. 🤣

  4. BIGRAILROADBLUES on 22ND MAY 2022 8:54 PM






    Glad to hear BJ is well enough to drink again ( even although that might set him back again !).

  5. BRRB.



    Certainly not on the square :)



    Is the location for public consumption?



    Checked my diary, available for selection :)




  6. bigrailroadblues on

    Hot smoked, he took it easy. I was my usual hedonistic self. I make Bacchus look like a non runner. 🤣

  7. bigrailroadblues on

    BelmontBrian, Tolbooth I think. The media shall be alerted for the possibility of more broken glass, litter and armageddon at Glasgow Cross. 🤣🤣

  8. bigrailroadblues on

    Brian, Philbhoy is invited of course even though he’s a grumpy sod. And you shouldn’t talk like that about your girlfriend. 😜

  9. fairhill bhoy on

    It was my birthday today 52 and feeling it . I usually just read the blog now with the odd comment thrown in.


    But honestly INIQUITOUSIV do you know anything about football.


    This Man City team have accepted defeat.


    Not for the first team you have made an arse of it

  10. BRRB



    Catch you in the Tollbooth, I’ll check if my personal body guard is available, ‘The wee / BIG ‘barra. I hope he will be available for selection.



    Will Leggy be back from his European Tour?



    Hope so.

  11. fairhill bhoy on

    SFTB-I would doubt James is on a better contract than his previous.He’s no spring chicken and he does have injury problems.Not that he hasn’t been a very good player for us but the position he plays is demanding.

  12. BRRB



    That’s a shame, I’m sure he said that he would cover every time on the ‘bell’



    It’s been a pleasure conversing with you, looks like the argumentative group are coming on board.



    Looking forward to the Tollbooth.



    Going to post my trio of tunes, then I’m out of here.



    Any preferences?




  13. Jinkyredstar on

    I have asked this before – why the love in for Man City here



    More doped than Sevco



    Exploitative funders



    I just don’t get the love in from Celtic Supporters



    As I probably mentioned before – I do not have an English team – I have one team



    Apart from that – have a great night😀


    HH JRS

  14. fairhill bhoy on

    Jinkyredstar-I usually wonder why the hate for Liverpool 🤷🏻‍♂️

  15. fairhill bhoy on

    PHILBHOY-if Liverpool had done the unthinkable it would have been a great day.🙃


    I had to make do with the wife,weans ,mother n law and the 3 grand kids out for dinner.


    I’ve had worser days 😉

  16. fairhill bhoy on

    PHILBHOY-it was.👍


    I had to sit with my son n law and act awe concerned about the lack of water.🤦‍♂️


    I hope you and you’re daughter are on the mend buddy 👍