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Less Is More
October 2017

Don’t Just Do Something, Stand There!

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Internal Medicine, Yale–New Haven Hospital, New Haven, Connecticut
JAMA Intern Med. 2017;177(10):1420-1421. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2017.3628

Penalty kicks in soccer can make fans crumple with anguish or weep with elation. The kicker sends the ball rocketing toward the goal and goalkeepers lunge acrobatically to stop it. Often the fate of the match hangs in the balance. Analyses suggest that goalkeepers may block more goals by staying stolidly in the center of the goal instead of diving to one side. Surprisingly, goalkeepers rarely adopt this strategy. One explanation is that staying in the middle looks deceptively foolish when kickers shoot toward the side. On the contrary, even when their dive is unsuccessful, goalkeepers are seen to have failed while trying.1 Knowing the ferocity of soccer, this is an understandable decision.