There are many philosophical questions in football, questions that do not only polarise opinions, but find their answers placed on different positions on a long spectrum, with their origins rooted in preference, desire, expectations and lived experiences.
What makes a penalty a good penalty
It even leads to player comparison and makes you start to question if Jorginho is a better penalty taker than Lampard, or Neymar more than Ronaldo
One of such questions is what makes a penalty attempt a good one in football. Take a pause, internalise it, you most likely have not allowed yourself to think about it before, after doing that, maybe ask people around you the same question, what makes a good penalty?
What you find out after this little exercise is, you probably do not have a well fleshed out answer, and every single person you asked has a different idea on what they think a good penalty should look like, you would also do well to remember, you have probably had the argument at some point, when a poorly struck penalty goes in and one party claims the outcome was lucky and the penalty was a bad one, with another party disagreeing on the basis that the ball found its way to the back of the net.
What makes a good penalty?
The first thought or image painted in the head of someone that thinks about this is; a penalty that is scored, or a well struck penalty.
Is a penalty a good penalty because it is scored? Even when a player slips and hits a fluke shot that fortunately goes on the opposite side of a goalkeeper that has already attempted a dive?
We need to think about this carefully, would said penalty be scored if attempted the same way again? Or at least seven times out of ten?
Is a penalty good because it is well struck?
Is the calibre of a penalty determined by the quality of strike behind it?
The opens up its own can of worms, it even leads to player comparison and makes you start to ask things like is Jorginho a better penalty taker than Lampard, or Neymar more than Ronaldo, bear in mind Jorginho has a conversion rate of 85.42%, Lampard 85.71%, Neymar 83.15%, Ronaldo 83.43%.
Would it matter if the quality of strike is great but the penalty fails to end up in the back of the net, because the goalkeeper saves it, or the strike is a little over cooked and finds itself in areas just outside the frame of the goal.
This train of thought also brings up an important question, is a Panenka a good penalty?
Is a Panenka a good penalty
It is a fair summation to make that Panenka in its general idea is a penalty that is not 'well struck' Panenka penalties are usually devoid of power, there usually is no much thought or effort put into placement or angling the strike but more times than not, they go in, so if you think a good penalty is a well struck one, is a Panenka a good penalty?
In having this conversation, it is important to discern between two types of penalties.
Types of penalties
All penalty styles can be generally classified into two, the ones that are goalkeeper dependent, and the ones that are attacker dependent.
Goalkeeper dependent type of penalties rely on selling a false target to the goalkeeper, waiting that extra split second for them to pick an area to dive to, Neymar and Jorginho are very good examples of penalty takers that employ this method and it comes off very effectively for them as they have a high conversion rate.
Attacker dependent penalties are those that are all about the technique the attacker introduces to the round leather, sometimes, goalkeeper movement is considered,, but they are not usually in the moment or goalkeeper specific, rather a matter of percentages, like playing the penalty centrally, because more times than not, the goalkeeper dives.
These penalties do not have to be struck with force, it could be the angling, the height, or a unique ball striking penalty.
And examples of penalty takers who employ this style are Ronaldo, Kane and Lampard.
Both types of penalty have users who have a high conversion rate, so at the end of the day, it might depend on the viewer to determine what looks better to watch.
What is a good penalty attempt
A good penalty has to be one with a high percentage of scoring upon each time it is replicated.
What are the chances of scoring that penalty if you repeat the technique or style, the angle you went for, area on the goal, goalkeeper likeliness of making a certain move, effectiveness of a trick, whatever it is, scoring a penalty still has to come into play, a penalty that goes in might not be what a good penalty is, but a good penalty has to be one that goes in all things being equal more times than not.