World of Sport

Goalkeepers ‘dive right on high pressure penos’

World of Sport

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*TAKE NOTE ENGLAND* - a group of Dutch scientists have studied penalty shoot-outs and have come up with some interesting findings.

According to the boffins, goalkeepers tend to instinctively dive to the right in high pressure situations due to "animal instincts", while in more normal situations they dive right or left an equal number of times.

The bad news for England is that, despite the scientists at the University of Amsterdam using one of their penalty shoot-out defeats as a case study, they plan to pass over their full findings to the Netherlands national team.

The researchers looked at England's defeat to Portugal at the 2006 World Cup when Cristiano Ronaldo stepped up against Paul Robinson (pictured). Even though Ronaldo's body language seemed to show he was going to go to the goalie's left, Robinson still dived to his right.

"When Robinson dived to his right, he was making a common choice for our right-oriented brains," explains Marieke Roskes, who wrote the report.

Roskes then conducted a series of experiments with volunteers who were asked to think about saving a penalty when their team was behind - and the results were similar.

"The goalkeeper is the only player who can regain the chance to win the game, so he has the chance to become the big hero," she said.

"It's quite impressive. Even in this situation, people are still influenced by biological factors.

"We're very hopeful this will help the Dutch team win the next World Cup."

With even England's women's team being afflicted by penalty shoot-out woe these days, it might be worth the FA picking up a copy of the journal Psychological Science, where the study will be published.

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