FA mull on strategy to end penalty shootout misery

London: England have worked out why they have such a poor record in penalty shootouts — they take their spot-kicks too quickly.

Ahead of this summer’s World Cup in Russia, the Football Association is looking at ways to do improve England’s dismal record. They include encouraging players to take part in indoor golf-putting competitions during their stays at hotels and to heckle each other to see how they react under pressure. Another is to copy the style of Cristiano Ronaldo by taking their time before striking the ball.

“We’ve got a research team on it to come back with some interesting findings,” FA technical director Dan Ashworth said.

“How are we going to get over that? Because if you’re going to win a World Cup, statistics will tell you that you’ll have to get through one round on penalties. And they had some quite inventive ways of how they dealt with that.”

The England senior men’s team have the worst record in the world at shootouts. They were knocked out of the World Cups in 1990, 1998 and 2006 on penalties and the European Championships in 1996, 2004 and 2012.

The senior women have taken part in three shootouts and lost them all. The under-age groups have not fared much better. During last year’s Under-20s World Cup in South Korea, the England team practised differently. They also bought an indoor putting mat.

“The ‘ABBA’ system [of taking penalties] was new and you only get a certain amount of time on the pitch with the players, so with [assistant coach] Aaron Danks they did a putting competition in the ‘ABBA’ format,” Ashworth said.

“Just an indoor thing in one of the meeting rooms, teams of five, and you’re allowed to put the other team off. So, there’s all sorts of shouting and hollering, a bit of pressure. That was just one inventive way our Under-20 coaches looked at doing something different, and it was about penalties.”

There is also detailed research. “You can break the penalty shootout down,” Ashworth said. “So, when the whistle goes, you’ve got a couple of minutes to prepare, so how do you do that? Where do you do that on the pitch? Who’s involved? Where do you stand [as a team during the shoot-out]? From where do you begin the walk?

“So, there’s been a little bit of research done to show that English players are quick to the ball when the whistle goes. When the referee’s whistle goes, you’ve got as long as you want to take the penalty.

“As a nation, over the years we’ve been a bit quick. You look at the other nations, they take a bit more time. There are some interesting patterns. For example, [Cristiano] Ronaldo’s self-control is incredible.”

— us Group Limited, London 2018