Twelve Yards: The Art and Psychology of the Perfect Penalty Kick

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9780143127307: Twelve Yards: The Art and Psychology of the Perfect Penalty Kick

An all-encompassing look at the penalty kick, soccer’s all-or-nothing play—its legendary moments and the secrets to its success

No stretch of grass has been the site of more glory or heartbreak in the world of sports than the few dozen paces between goalkeeper and penalty kicker in soccer. In theory, it’s simple: place the ball beyond a single defender and secure a place in history. But once the chosen players make the lonely march from their respective sides of the pitch, everything changes, all bets are off, and anything can happen. Drawing from the hard-won lessons of legendary games, in-depth statistical analysis, expert opinion, and the firsthand experience of coaches and players from around the world, journalist Ben Lyttleton offers insight into the diverse attitudes, tactics, and techniques that separate success from failure in one of the highest-pressure situations sports has to offer.

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About the Author:

BEN LYTTLETON is a journalist and broadcaster who has written for Sports Illustrated and Time, among other publications, and is Bloomberg TV’s on-air soccer analyst. He is also a director of Soccernomics, the soccer consultancy. He lives in London. This is his first book.

Review:

"Fascinating insight... highly recommended for fans, coaches and athletes in all sports." - Sir Clive Woodward, England World Cup-winning coach

"Entertaining... splendid... masterful. Footballers of every nation should be reading this." - Sunday Times (UK)

"Delightfully offbeat."
-Ross Atkin, The Christian Science Monitor

"A wonderful book: extremely well-researched, well-written and international in its scope. Ben Lyttleton has done something very rare in football writing: he has got access to some of the game's leading players and coaches and got them to talk articulately and thoughtfully about a key aspect of their game. Twelve Yards reveals the level of intelligence that exists within professional football:­ a more cerebral zone than many people realize." - Simon Kuper, author of Football Against the Enemy and Why England Lose

"Brilliant." - Matt Le Tissier, former England international

"Glorious... Lyttleton's book goes into remarkable detail in an attempt to find a solution, to do for England and penalties what Freud wanted to do for the human condition by transforming neurotic misery into normal human unhappiness." - Sunday Independent

"A vivid read... Lyttleton appears to have spoken to everybody who's ever taken part in a penalty shoot-out of any significance. As a result, he serves up an almost endless series of terrific set-pieces." - Reader's Digest

"The stage for some of football’s most dramatic moments, penalty shootouts are a prominent feature of the game’s folklore. In Twelve Yards, Lyttleton offers a comprehensive guide to the history, psychology and statistical complexity of penalties." – Prozone Sports
Soccer’s penalty kick, an unchallenged shot on goal with only the goalkeeper to beat, can win championships—or lose them, should the striker’s nerve fail to hold. Readers wondering whether a whole book can be written about something that lasts only seconds needn’t worry. While journalist, TV analyst, and sports consultant Lyttleton is definitely writing for the fan who already has a mental catalog of penalty decisions that went for and against his or her team, that fan will find this fascinating. He probes the psychology of kick takers and stoppers, examines strategies for success, profiles players who notably triumphed or blundered (including goalkeepers who also take penalties), and, best of all for diehards, crunches the numbers. One statistical gem reveals that players already recognized for their greatness perform more poorly than those who are not. Add in some historical notes (such as the origin of the legendary Panenka, an audacious chip shot at the space the goalkeeper will presumably vacate), and you have a book that will keep fans reading until the final whistle.
— Keir Graff, Booklist

 

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