Goalkeepers’ Reputations Bias Shot Placement in Soccer Penalties

in Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology
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Research has demonstrated that in addition to minor changes in goalkeepers’ position or height, goalkeeper reputation seems to influence penalty takers’ shot placement. However, this evidence is based on correlative designs. Here, the authors experimentally manipulated both height and reputation to examine their causal impact on actual shot placement. Penalty takers performed kicks facing goalkeepers of different height (tall vs. short) and reputation (high vs. low) projected on a life-size screen. Results showed that tall goalkeepers were judged as taller than short goalkeepers. Likewise, high-reputation goalkeepers were judged as taller than low-reputation goalkeepers. An important finding was that reputation also influenced shot placement. When facing high-reputation goalkeepers, penalty takers aimed farther away from the goalkeeper and missed the goal more often. It follows that reputation affects both height estimates of goalkeepers and, most important, shot placement. Consequently, manipulating perceived reputation of goalkeepers provides an avenue for sport professionals to subtly influence shot placement of penalty takers.

The authors are with the Dept. of Sport Psychology, Inst. of Sport Science, Friedrich Schiller University of Jena, Jena, Germany.

Müller (florian.mueller@uni-jena.de) is corresponding author.
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