The Goalie’s Anxiety
In honor of the opening of the 2010 World Cup.
“The goalkeeper is trying to figure out which corner the kicker will send the ball into,” Bloch said. “If he knows the kicker, he knows which corner he usually goes for. But maybe the kicker is also counting on the goalie’s figuring this out. So the goalie goes on figuring that just today the ball might go into the other corner. But what if the kicker follows the goalkeeper’s thinking and plans to shoot into the usual corner after all? And so on, and so on.”
Bloch saw how all the players gradually cleared the penalty area. The penalty kicker adjusted the ball. Then he too backed out of the penalty area.
“When the kicker starts his run, the goalkeeper unconsciously shows with his body which way he’ll throw himself even before the ball is kicked, and the kicker can simply kick in the other direction,” Bloch said. “The goalie might just as well try to pry open a door with a piece of straw.”
The kicker suddenly started his run. The goalkeeper, who was wearing a bright yellow jersey, stood absolutely still, and the penalty kicker shot the ball into his hands.
From Peter Handke, the closing paragraphs from The Goalie’s Anxiety at the Penalty Kick.