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. itscalledthemalvinas on



    Come on you shite in maroon(or whatever colour of strip the Old Firm tell you to wear)

  2. Fanadpatriot



    So your 33rd birthday saw the greatest Celtic win I have seen live with my own eyes.



    10 men won the league 4-2 with a mediocre team against all odds.

  3. Moderator1888 on

    WEEBOBBYCOLLINS on 20TH MAY 2022 9:14 PM


  could at least have waited until he lent me the fiver…






    Sorry matey, but WTF was that post all about.

  4. fanadpatriot on



    Indeed , I remember it well ,I was in the front stand that night,I always thought the 21st May was a great date ,even including Seville



  5. JHB



    I did not know Jimmy Bell and, anything negative I have heard about him is only hearsay – not saying it’s not true, but I would not presume to judge him on that basis.





    You trashed the appointment of Ange Postecoglou saying he would need at least two seasons to get a handle on thiings never mind win the League Cup and the League in his first season.



    You are a fraud.




    Best wishes for your birthday tomorrow!



    Hope you can add to your great memories!

  7. The quality of Sky Sports commentary, Paul McGinley excepted, at the PGA is absolutely dire. Just as well I’m watching on Hesgoal otherwise I’d be writing in to complain.

  8. The morra?



    Gie thum the Kup.


    Big picture – who cares?



    In light of the Frankfurt Debacle,,,,,,,nothing else matters.


    We know i, The meeja know it……….. and they know it.



  9. fanadpatriot on



    Thank you ,party planned for tomorrow’ ,best scenario Jambos win ,best of two evils HH

  10. If they win……………….Seville renders it hollow ( hollow)………………


    If they lose…………………………………Berserkers everywhere.



    For us?







  11. Danny&G-Thang,









    Superb Celtic Supporters, never forgotten… Dumbarton/Dalmuir….




    A real Love for life.




    No cheating, just hardcore Believing in what is right.



    Strange Europa Final call not a Crossmaglen….

  12. FAO SFTB, if he’s about…



    I got your message on the Superbru app.


    I’ve tried to contact you on the email address you gave. But my email came back as undeliverable?… due to recipients email address undergoing maintenance. I’ll try again over next few days. I sent a reply via Superbru app, but unsure if it sent. So this is just to let you know I’ve not ignored you 😁



    I’m on holiday in Whitley Bay for the next 10 days, so will be lurking less than usual 😁




  13. I know D&G were anti Abortion.



    Strange days…… And incredibly strange ways…. happenin’ now.




  14. I did nets on November when our keeper was awol.


    We were 0 3 after 13 minutes. They proceeded to get 3 pens in next 50 minutes, taken by 3 different players. I saved all 3, we drew 3 3. Sportingly their manager contacted the the local paper who ran a great story.


    It was great fun.


    I had a very simple tactics.

  15. SFTB



    I used copy & paste, so didn’t even notice lol



    Sent email again, then read your 00:08 post.


    No worries. Iffy wifi tonight where I am.


    Cheers mate. 👍



    Aff oot, as they say 😁




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