Jun 10th 2010 By Jeremy Taylor
Our happy hour fact to amaze your drinking buddies with.
The more attention a soccer player pays to the goalie before a penalty kick, the less likely he is to make the shot.
Researchers from the University of Exeter
in England fitted 18 college soccer players with an eye-tracking device and had them take penalty kicks
. The players who looked at the goalie tended to kick the ball right at him; whereas the ones who avoided any eye contact, and focused on a spot in the net, had a better chance of making the shot.
According to Greg Wood, the psychologist who led the study, the kicker is in control of any penalty-kick situation until he makes the mistake of looking at the goalie. The more he looks at the net-minder, the more anxious the kicker becomes -- particularly if the goalie attempts to do something distracting, as goalies are known to do.
Of course, this study doesn't address the utter absurdity of ending hard-fought, winner-only-advances World Cup matches
with shootouts, as has happened 20 times over the last seven World Cups.