Soccer players (and you, too) —think like a freak!


In soccer, when a foul is committed by the defense near the goal area, a free penalty kick is awarded.  The one team puts the ball down on a spot approximately 12 yards away from the goal.  It is just a one on one, the kicker and the goalie.

Here are some notes I took from a very enjoyable book called, “Think like a freak”- Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner in which one of the topics that was covered was on  penalty kicks in soccer.

-penaltykicks- a right hand kicker will kick to the goalie’s right 57% of the time, to his left 41% and 2% down the middle….but a kick straight down the middle is 7% more likely to succeed than a kick to a corner, but only 17% are aimed there, why? besides it doesn’t make sense to kick at the goalie.

Another reason is the fear of shame—how valiant an effort is a kick right down the middle?   (so are you thinking more about yourself or the team when you take this kick?)

-most people will put their interests ahead of others

So, what do you do with data like this in soccer?

What kinds of data do you look at in various areas of your responsibility?

In what areas are you willing to let go of your interests for the good of the team?


I will leave you to think through this interesting data and the questions I have asked for your personal take aways.


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