Soccer Penalty Kicks

This lesson explores the game theoretics of penalty kicks in soccer. Surprisingly, the kicker aims for his weaker side more frequently than his stronger side when both players are playing optimally. The reason is that the goalie naturally dives to the kicker’s stronger side more frequently, thus incentivizing the kicker to aim the other way.

Takeaway Points

  1. Mixed strategies can be weird.
  2. The goal to make your opponent indifferent between his pure strategies causes the unexpected results.

Back to Game Theory 101