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. Paul67 et al



    These academics could have saved themselves a whole lot of time and effort if instead they had stressed the importance of………winning the toss. (@Billy McNeill Nov 1969)




  2. the long wait is over on

    Interesting stuff but – no criticism express or implied – all from the POV of the penalty taker.



    The most interesting thing – apart from all of the hilarity- i have read post Wednesday was the EF goalkeeper saying their research showed that Ramsey decided where to place his penalties very late so Trapp and his coaches had agreed he would wait as long as possible before diving :-





    Needs translated and then it’s in the first “Trapp” paragraph.

  3. Thought we had improved very well on crosses into our box.You always have to remember,attackers have the advantage.If one is 6 foot 5 you may have a problem.


    A bit like Brendan.Every cross into the Leicester box seems to end up in the net.Says he has tried everything,nothing works,and he will be bringing I players who can make it work.Oooooff.

  4. Back to Basics - Glass Half Full on

    Food for thought Pablo. Respect.



    “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”



    “Fan” is short for “fanatic”.



    Emotional contagion? Amen to that.



    Penalty kicks?



    Whatever it takes.



    Our 20 year record is not great.



    Don’t have data but I’d be surprised if our success rate is 70%.

  5. Tavernier,the penalty king,has missed 3 or 4 in his taking of them.


    Right enough,that’s probably a 1% miss rate.

  6. Isn’t it self-evident that the ABBA system always works because “the winner takes it all”?



    Money, money, money is always what the bears are chasing, but when all is said and done, they could be sending out an SOS if they meet their Waterloo on Saturday. No doubt, penalty-wise it will still be gimme, gimme, gimme, hasta mañana. Will GVB be thinking, I don’t want another cup slipping through my fingers. He’ll be hoping every fan says I still have faith in you, I do, I do, I do, with Ramsey pleading, take a chance on me?



    As the two teams walk out at Hampden they’ll be thinking – mamma mia, one of us is going to have a great summer night in the city.



    Knowing me, knowing you(aha), we might have just a notion, that the voulez-vous could be coming from the Edinburgh dancing queens.

  7. Back to Basics - Glass Half Full on

    FWIW – I’ve always felt penalties number 7 & 8 in the shoot out are, more often than not, pivotal.

  8. At this time of year I normally take a look at Celtic’s prospects of progressing in the CL qualifiers, but as we’re straight into the group stage this year let’s have a look at sevco instead. Note the caveat all of this is currently pretty fluid, the final positions in the domestic leagues as well as the qualifiers will likely throw up a few surprises.



    As we know sevco enter at the 3rd qualifying round for non-champions as a seeded team. The 4 unseeded teams they could draw are currently looking like PSV Eindhoven, Midtjylland, Sturm Graz and Union SG. An interesting side issue is how the French Ligue 1 resolves, with Monaco and Marseille on equal points in second going into the last game. If Monaco finish 3rd they’ll become an unseeded team in that round and the one any seeded teams would look to avoid.



    Looking at three separate metrics, UEFA coefficients, squad value, and best 11 value; the chances of sevco progressing against each of those metrics is currently 75%, 61% and 59% respectively. The real surprise package in that group are Union SG, their low UEFA coefficient belies a team that coasted promotion last year and have been punching in the Belgian Juliper league all season, with some very well regarded players.



    If sevco make it through that round the 4 winners play-off against each other, and again sevco would be seeded. On the basis of UEFA coefficient the two teams they could face here would be Marseille (though note French league outcome as above) or Dynamo Kiev. Chances of progressing against each metric of coefficient, squad value, and best 11 value are 53%, 40% and 43% respectively.



    Their overall chance of getting through both rounds and making the CL group stage is around 28%. sevco find themselves facing a question that’s very familiar to us, will they take a squad investment bet on it?

  9. Back to Basics - Glass Half Full on

    Quadrophenian – from last thread



    Re: BBC – I hear you !!!



    I hold BBC Sport Scotland in the highest contempt.



    No financial consideration.



    Bias and bigotry …. just because ….



    Believe me, if I could retain the portion of my licence fee that funds that shower I’d do so in a heartbeat.

  10. And of course there is always another factor worth some additional Academic study….


    Are your opponents German?




  11. I have often found that the last missed penalty in the once you go into sudden death is crucial.

  12. McPhail Bhoy on

    Their overall chance of getting through both rounds and making the CL group stage is around 28%. Sevco find themselves facing a question that’s very familiar to us, will they take a squad investment bet on it?








    It’s what they do, it’s what they’ve always done since the time of Minty, bet the family silver* on winning something or qualifying in Europe, ra Bears demand it.


    *note they have no family silver and have been happy for many years to bet with some other family’s silver

  13. PRESTONPANS BHOYS on 20TH MAY 2022 12:02 PM






    PRESTONPANS BHOYS on 20TH MAY 2022 12:02 PM








    Great goal! 😂🤣



    Enjoyable read, crazy not to practice pens for those ties but better just attack, attack, attack and finish in 90 mins, preferably 45 mins.



    Any good professional footballer should have a go to technique, ability to control nerves, and decision making to not do something silly if the recognise the nerves are having an impact.


    Definitely wouldn’t bring a player on who’s not loosened up through match play. A warm up pitch side without a ball doesn’t prep you for pens imo.

  14. Hrvatski Jim on



    FWIW – I’ve always felt penalties number 7 & 8 in the shoot out are, more often than not, pivotal.




    You sound like the tennis commentator Dan Maskell. He always went on about the 7th game in a set being pivotal. Generation of British tennis players had continence problems at the 7th game.

  15. P67……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.





    The B side of Ian Dury’s Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick, certainly springs to mind.

  16. Thats some great progress on the groundworks at Barrowfield showing on the live cameras.



    Well done Celtic PLC

  17. SONSOFERIN on 20TH MAY 2022 2:19 PM






    Monaco are above Marseille on goal difference and have better form going into the final game tomorrow night. Both play teams with European aspirations in their last games, Marseille home against Strasbourg in 5th, Monaco away to Lens who can still get a conference league place



    Monaco have won 7 or 8 on the trot, they’re finishing the season very strongly but their star, Tchouameni is almost certainly going to the EPL in the Summer.



    In the 3rd round I think either Monaco or PSV if Marseille qualify by finishing third will be very difficult. They struggled against Scandinavian teams last season so Midgieland would pose a threat



    A play off tie against Monaco, PSV, or Marseille would give me the fear if I was them



    Do you know what the story is with Dynamo Kyiv and the state of Ukrainian football at the moment?

  18. Yeti @ 3.05



    Any ideas on when we will get a full sized indoor pitch at L/town?



    The current one is sized for tennis.



    Hoping the indoor pitch at B/field is being built to a better standard than the PR visuals.



    Textile walls is not a good look.

  19. McPhail Bhoy on

    SAINT STIVS on 20TH MAY 2022 3:05 PM


    Thats some great progress on the groundworks at Barrowfield showing on the live cameras.


    Well done Celtic PLC







    Where did you find the footage please?

  20. boondock saint on

    Now I know our parents brought us up to not wallow in other peep’s misfortunes, but…nah:)))))))))))


    I was watching the better than Lisbon67European cup finalifyou comefae larkhall the other day in my classroom. I did not have any students atr the time but I managed to leavethe door ajar, and when thems scored, I may have dropped a bad word beginning with Mother. Students outside began to laugh. The school was then placed on lockdown as it began to shake when Frankfurt equalized. When the winning pk went in, game over, school was already closed and I was running up and down the hallways celebrating like a mad fool.


    The gift that keeps on giving.


    Hail Hail



  21. Corkcelt – Agreed – Ramsey was not at all confident which belies his stature in world football that we have been reading about for the last few months. He was focused on getting his kick on target rather than placing the ball in a corner. You can see the way he struck down on the ball making it easy for the keeper to save.



    I thought it was similar to their first penalty from Tavernier which was also a poor penalty down the middle – he just got lucky that the keeper moved early.

  22. Back to Basics - Glass Half Full on

    Madmitch …



    Have you considered going with SRPBC ?



    Might reduce key strokes even further.

  23. Back to Basics - Glass Half Full on

    Hrvatski Jim – re Dan Maskell .. Lol




    Serious point though, if it is tight after 6 penalties (e.g. 2-2, 2-3, 3-2, 3-3) …



    … it’s remarkable how often a successful fourth spot kick swings a shoot out.



    IMHO, your best penalty taker should be on that one.

  24. Weebobbycollins on

    A statement from Spanish club Sevilla FC, who hosted the final, said demand for bottled water was triple what was expected for a normal match and they sold out.



    The statement said: “The club tried to replenish the water at the bars, but the fans literally assaulted the employees who were in charge of replenishing the bottles as they tried to reach the bars, then finally it was necessary to close them.”

  25. Celtic40Me – Thanks for the reply. For clarity, it’s the 3rd placed team in France who enter the qualifiers, second place go straight in the group stage. So if Monaco finish strongly it’d be Marseille in the qualifiers, as you suggest this is looking more likely so all my calcs assume this outcome.



    The Ukrainian league was stopped in Feb, they’ll probably call the table as is and assign UEFA places appropriately. Will Ukrainian teams be capable of competing in Europe next year? Who knows, what’s clear is that UEFA will be very unwilling to simply disqualify them, so they’ll provide any concessions or special conditions they can to make it happen, such as arranging neutral venues etc. Their teams may not have the same preparation and training others would, especially if the league is still in hiatus, but I wouldn’t want to be drawn against Dynamo Kyiv in a comp with the whole world behind them.



    Ukraine is below Scotland in the UEFA rankings so sevco enter at the 3rd qualifying stage regardless. If Ukraine couldn’t field teams then I believe Serbia would be the benefactors, getting an extra non-champions qualifying spot in the early rounds, probably Partizan Belgrade.

  26. itscalledthemalvinas on

    Did Celtic send a representative to the bigots funeral today ?


    Maybe it was Kenny Miller.

  27. First memory of any penalty shoot outs is still a sore one. European Cup Semi final second leg at Parkhead 1972, need I say more. As the game was on bbc tv live and the hun match on stv live as well, everybody was talking football the following day at school. The Daily Record cartoon of the ball on the moon went viral in modern terms, comedians (sic) and all and sundry in the media took a pop at Dixie Deans and indirectly Celtic. It said a hell of a lot for Dixie the man that he shook it all off and went out to score the famous hat trick in the Scottish cup final against Hibs.



    In line with the statistics Paul pointed out, Inter went first!

  28. Bhoyjoebelfast on

    Liked the ‘Irish News’ caption’CAUGHT IN A TRAP(P).Staying with the Elvis theme ‘Are you lonesome tonight do you MISS me tonight.


    Frankfurt well done, saved us from untold stories and claptrap for years from a media who genuinely thought they were going to win.

  29. SONSOFERIN on 20TH MAY 2022 3:48 PM



    Oh yes, I was looking at them fighting for third, I missed they were fighting for second.



    If DK are able to participate they’d need to get past 2 rounds before they could potentially face Sevco. It might be at tall order if they haven’t played competitive football for months or are struggling to get a team together. They’ll play either second in Turkey or Cyprus in Q2. If they go out the winners take on their seeding to the next round, the same if they go out in Q3, I think. So there’s a chance we could see a poorer team in the unseeded half of the play-off round.

  30. bigrailroadblues on

    Good afternoon all from Shawlands. Pub full of smirking Tims ripping the pish out of hapless huns.

  31. Paul67,



    These are very strange times, the World has went crazy.



    Penalties Schmenalties, I’m just happy that the deal the Newco did with the Devil didnae payoff untold riches. I thought the refereeing/VAR stuff was very William Telling when its usually the Big Countries that get any advantage.



    Hopefully Celtic start making the later stages of Every (no matter whit wan) Euro Tournie they enter a lot mair regularly.



    Ange wants everybody in the place pronto.





    Milton Keynes is Roundabout Central – Oldco/Newco have been to 2 Euro finals since Celtic in Seville.



    Sort it Celtic.

  32. SONSOFERIN on 20TH MAY 2022 3:48 PM



    I’m not entirely correct



    As the draw for Q3 takes place while the Q2 tie is still in progress the seeding for the Q3 draw is based on the co efficient of the higher of the two teams in the tie in Q2.



    The same applies to Q3 and the Playoff round, but if a team were to beat DK in Q2 they wouldn’t take on the coefficient of DK in the play off draw.

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