An analysis of penalty kicks in elite football post 1997

Kristine Dalton, Michel Guillon, Shehzad A. Naroo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The penalty kick in football is a seemingly simplistic play; however, it has increased in complexity since 1997 when the rules changed allowing goalkeepers to move laterally along their goal line before the ball was kicked. Prior to 1997 goalkeepers were required to remain still until the ball was struck. The objective of this study was to determine the importance of the penalty kick in the modern game of football. A retrospective study of the 2002, 2006 and 2010 World Cup and the 2000, 2004 and 2008 European Championship tournaments was carried out, assessing the importance of the penalty kick in match play and shootouts and the effect of the time of the game on the shooter's success rate. This study demonstrated the conversion rate of penalties was 73% in shootouts and 68% in match play. Significantly more penalties were awarded late in the game: twice as many penalties in the second half than the first and close to four times as many in the fourth quarter vs. the first. Teams awarded penalty kicks during match play won 52%, drew 30% and lost 18% of the time; chances of winning increased to 61% if the penalty was scored, but decreased to 29% if missed. Teams participating in either the World Cup or European Championship final match had roughly a 50% chance of being involved in a penalty shootout during the tournament. Penalty shots and their outcome significantly impact match results in post 1997 football.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)815-827
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Sports Science and Coaching
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2015


  • association football
  • goalkeeping
  • penalty shootouts
  • performance analysis
  • rules of sport
  • sports analytics


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