Penalty shoot-out anguish such as that suffered by Chris Waddle at Italia '90 could be a thing
of the past after scientists worked out how to take the perfect spot kick.
With the World Cup fast approaching, England
players in particular will be relieved to hear that there is a definite method
to ensuring their penalties hit the back of the net.
A mathematical study at Liverpool's John
Moores University revealed that biomechanics and psychology are crucial to
scoring from 12 yards.
The study found that the perfect penalty
should be hit at around 65 miles per hour from a run-up of no more than six
The shooter should move swiftly towards the
ball and make connection either less than three seconds after the whistle is
blown or more than 13 seconds after the referee indicates he is ready.
The taker should approach the ball at an
angle of between 20 and 30 degrees before hitting it high to the left or right
of the keeper. The ball should cross the line exactly 0.5m below crossbar and
0.5m inside either post.
Professor Tim Cable, director of sport and
exercise sciences, declared: "Many factors make up a 'perfect penalty'.
But we've finally nailed the key elements."
Researchers say the formula guarantees 100
per cent success, although only intense practice will help the player find the
optimum penalty with regularity.