Affordance-based control in deceptive and non-deceptive penalties in soccer goalkeeping: Gender matters!

Ran Zheng*, John van der Kamp, Xinyong Song, Geert Savelsbergh

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Only few studies have addressed how soccer goalkeepers adapt to both the spatial and temporal constraints while trying to stop a penalty kick. Moreover, research on penalty kicks has only involved male goalkeepers, even though the resultant constraint (i.e., the relation between the maximum action capabilities defining the time required and ball flight time and direction defining the time available) may or may not differ for female goalkeepers. We therefore compared penalty goalkeeping between male and female goalkeepers of similar skill level. The results showed that the resultant constraint was more stringent for female than male goalkeepers. In accordance with the affordance-based control theory, female and male goalkeepers both adapted to the resultant constraint, but did scale their diving action differently. Female goalkeepers initiated the lateral dive within the action boundaries set by the resultant constraint, while male goalkeepers tended to dive late, beyond the action boundaries. Owing to the early dive, female goalkeepers saved more penalties than male in non-deceptive penalties. Nevertheless, female goalkeepers were also more susceptible to deception by the penalty taker than male goalkeepers. These findings extend our knowledge of the affordance-based control theory in sports and contribute to the understanding of gender differences in soccer penalty goalkeeping.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102096
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalPsychology of Sport and Exercise
Early online date3 Nov 2021
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The first author is supported by the China Scholarship Council . In addition, we would like to thank all the participants who volunteered to take part in the experiment and Mr. Wang who assisted in the data collection.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Authors


  • Affordance-based control
  • Calibration
  • Deception
  • Gender differences
  • Penalty kick


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