Why do the best players in the world miss penalties? 9



In the biggest games in the world you have seen great players miss penalty kicks at the most critical moments, Baggio in the 94 World Cup Final, Beckham in the World Cup Quarter Finals, Messi in the Champions League Semi Finals against Chelsea and the list goes on.
Most recently Manchester United Nani missed his penalty kick, preceding missed kicks from Robin Van Persie and Chicharito.

So if these are amongst the top players in the world, why do they miss these golden opportunities, with no defender contesting, a straight shot at goal, only 12 yards out, with only the goal keeper in his way. How does that happen? In fact, how and why do the best players in the world falter on something most arm chair supporters would regard as straight forward and in their eyes a certainty.

For example, Messi who at this time is regarded as the best player in the world, yet he misses his chance against Chelsea in the Champions League Semi Final, if he scores, his team will probably go on to win that game, with Barca probably favorites in the Finals too. So, why does he miss that? Technically surely he is one of the most gifted footballers of all time, in practice he probably completes it 10 times out of 10.

Making a long story short, it’s all to do with pressure situations. Pressure is one of those crucial X factors that is very hard to measure because it can not be replicated, you can not prepare for it, the only way to condition for that moment, is to have experienced it before, otherwise there is no way to simulate taking a penalty kick in a crucial game with the oppositions fans blaring and the burden of a crucial result laying on your narrow shoulders.

Anyone with half a brain can concede that these professionals only miss when there is something on the line.
Have you ever tried walking on a walking beam? Put that beam on the ground, no problems… Lift it off the ground 10ft and try walking it, let’s see how you fair. It’s the same thing. So why is it when professionals miss, we are so surprised, and why do, we give them such a hard time? My conclusion is that the person stepping up to take penalties, shouldn’t be the one who is necessarily the most technically gifted but maybe the one that has the most composure in pressure situations with a cool head in moments like these. However, they are fallible, human, prone to error, prone to the pressures and will ultimately miss at some point.