Alternatives to the penalty shoot-out

Billsberry, Jon and Nelson, Patrick (2007). Alternatives to the penalty shoot-out. Journal of Sports Science and Medicine, 6(10) p. 96.



Recent research into penalty shoot-outs indicates that they are not a pure lottery. For example, it is known that younger players are more effective than older ones during penalty shoot-outs (Jordet et al, 2006). Also there are concerns that individuals decide a team sport and that FIFA is considering alternatives (Blatter reported in The Times, 2006). The purpose of this paper is to discover, by drawing on tie-breaks in other sports, key differences in the nature of alternatives that might form a typology for their categorisation. In addition, this paper outlines the criteria that a replacement to penalty shoot-outs should satisfy in order to be a realistic alternative. The criteria are used to evaluate potential alternatives.

Materials and Methods
Drawing upon rational decision-making, through desk research, we analyse the experience in other sports to create a typology of tie-breaks. Analysis of this typology allows us to create a list of criteria that a replacement to penalty shoot-outs should satisfy. Following this, we compare a range of alternatives to these acceptance criteria.

Analysis of other sports shows that there are three distinct forms of tiebreakers (assessment of prior performance, assessment of game performance, and post-game lotteries) and some hybrids. We advocate ten different criteria that a replacement to the penalty shoot-out should satisfy. Our assessment of alternatives suggests that prior performance methods should be tested.

Discussion and Conclusion
Our analysis suggests that determining the result of the tiebreak before the game starts (e.g. best goal difference, highest number of goals scored in the competition) may improve the quality of the football both in the tied game and in previous games in the tournament. Awarding a minor score to ‘woodwork hits’ also looks fruitful. These alternatives should be tested.

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