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England To Use Sports Scientist To Break Penalty Tradition

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When England go to a penalty shoot-out in a major tournament, you may as well turn the TV off. However Roy Hodgson is bringing in expert help to try and break the sequence.

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Mike Hewitt

Euro 2012, World Cup 2006, Euro 2004, World Cup 1998, Euro 1996, World Cup 1990. There is one aspect of each tournament listed above that haunts the English national team. In every single one of those tournaments, England have been knocked out on penalties. The heart-breaking penalty shoot out has become a custom in this country, when we go to a penalty shoot-out, you could be forgiven for switching the TV off and starting the process of forgetting.

However for the first time, England are trying to do something about it. In an effort to avoid a repeat of their 2012 exit, England have hired noted Rugby Union coach and sports scientist Dave Reddin to try and break the pattern. Reddin is perhaps most famous for working with England rugby star Jonny Wilkinson, and we all remember the kick from Wilkinson that won the 2003 rugby union World Cup.

Hodgson has spoken about the problems England have faced with the penalty shoot-out:

“To suggest that the mental side plays no part is nonsense,” Hodgson said. “Whether someone who is a trained psychologist can actually help a player shoot better in a penalty shoot-out or whether his club, coaches and manager can help him — that’s a discussion. Maybe there is a way of blending the two.

“I will be interested to hear what Dave has to say. He has worked with rugby and a large part of that game is the kicking — the Wilkinson episode which won us the World Cup, for example.

“So there will be a lot of interesting things and I have an open mind on the subject. I’m prepared to listen to the expertise and also involve the players in it.”

Since 1990, we have taken part in seven penalty shoot-outs, we have lost 6 of them. The only victory was a win against Spain in 1996, however we ended up losing to Germany in the next round on penalties anyway.

I'm not sure anyone can help us win a penalty shoot-out if I'm being completely honest. I don't know what separates us from other nations when it comes to this aspect of the game. Maybe we have just been unlucky.