Wednesday, June 25, 2008


Pretend you're a forward, and get the ball in the box. A defender is closing in as you turn and touch the ball towards goal. He sticks out a leg to poke away the ball, but misses. His leg is now stuck directly in your path to the ball and the goal.

Do you

A: Move forward, initiating contact with the leg, falling over it in an attempt to draw a penalty kick?

B: Try to jump the leg and catch up to the ball in an attempt to score?

Explain your choice. Also, would any outside factors influence your decision, or would you make the same choice every time, in every situation?


Rudy said...

Probably A for me. I'd like to say that I would try to jump the leg and get to the ball but I think in the heat of the moment you instinctively look for the edge. I've seen countless times where players don't even try to get to the ball even when they probably have a great chance if they make the effort.

Now, just pulling a Vlade Divac every time you're in the box is a completely different scenario to me. I think it's a little easier to take the high road there.

CACuzcatlan said...

Assuming I had the time to make a decision I would analyze the situation and see what was my best option. If I felt I could get a good strike on the ball if I avoided the defender's leg, I would go for it. If I was less than confident about my potential shot, I'd run into him for the PK attempt.

Benjamin said...

I would jump the leg Nothing bring down soccer and brings out the haters more than this exact scenario. if more players would have the balls to go for it this sport would grow at a faster rate becase more media haters will jump off the "soccer is soft" band waggon. We need to see more bookings for diving and the problem may cure itself.

A.Ruiz said...

I would try to jump over the leg, but since I suck..I would end up tripping over the leg anyway, despite my best efforts..

starinyourfire said...

i say B, since penalty kicks are not always given whether you flop or really fall over.

Anonymous said...

B. The rule for diving I think should be up to the referee's interpretation of whether the player was trying to get to the ball or not. If you try B and cannot, cannot, get to the ball because the leg interferes with your movement, the play should be called a foul no matter where it is. The defender is impeding the attackers progress. Playing soccer, I always know when I can and cannot reach a ball, but I still always try to reach it. A leg in the way will usually be the only thing to prevent me from reaching the ball and that's why it's a foul. That said, there are some gray areas when the attacker plays a ball that he couldn't possibly reach but still tries to get it and is impeded. In such cases, I don't mind the referee having discretion. I think though that on flighted balls, both players have a right to get to the ball, so a little more physicality is allowable there, e.g. Onyewu's play in the 2006 WC where both he and the Ghanaian player were going for the ball but the player flopped because he was "impeded". A similar thing happened in the Poland-Austria game. I think both of these should not have been called fouls.

pat said...

I would hope I would never initiate contact hoping for a foul... However - if the scenario were just a little different: if there were contact but not necessarily so much as to knock me over...

I think I'd try to stay on my feet all season long - hoping to build a reputation with the refs as a non-Martino. Then, if the situation came up in a playoff game, I might just take the tumble.

Vapid said...

Well, from a logical standpoint, my decision would depend on a number of factors: 1) the chance, if I attempt to avoid contact, that I (or another teammate) will score in the run of play; 2) the chance, if I do initiate the contact, that I (or another teammate) will score; 3) the chance, if I do initiate contact, that a penalty will be called; and 4) the chance, if a penalty is called, that a goal will be scored. The third factor, of course, depends on other factors -- like the reputation of the referee and previous calls that have been made in the game. And the fourth depends on things like the quality of my team's penalty-taker and the other team's goalie.

I think there's even a mathematical formula that you could use:

If [Chance of scoring when avoiding contact] > [Chance of scoring in run of play after making contact] + ([Chance that a penalty will be called] * [Chance that the penalty will be made]), then avoid the contact. If the reverse is true, then initiate the contact. If the two are equal, be a real player and go for the goal in the run of play.

This of course is why you see players dive when they're in disadvantageous positions to score.

Of course, other factors could play into the equation, too, such as risk of a yellow-card for diving (very low since contact would be initiated) and social pressures (either positive or negative) associated with initiating contact in order to draw a penalty. I imagine that in most cases in professional sports, the reward of your play resulting in a goal (no matter the circumstances) outweighs the negative impact of bloggers and blog commenters calling you names or questioning your sporting nature.

Matt L said...

I had this situation occur to be 2 nights ago in a match. I jumped the leg, not because I am of high moral character, but just on instinct...a leg was in my way and I needed to try to get to the ball.

Perhaps I am not good enough to slow the game down to the point where I can consider all the actions I take on the pitch.

Now, assuming I were good enough to have the game unfold slowly before me, I think I would have run through the leg and gone down. I suppose it is in my "rights" to do it.

Matt L

Daniel A. said...

option (A), i enter the box hoping for a clear shot, or a defender to mess up and allow me to draw a pk. If the player puts his leg in the wrong place and i can make the foul look natural, i'll take the dive every time. The defender stays on his feet and doesn't challenge for fear of a pk, i have a clear look at goal and i'm putting it away. At that moment you own the defence and they hate you for it. I love it, i love to score, and i love making defenders panic and cry about dives.

Jonathan Geissler said...

"Try to jump the leg and CATCH UP TO THE BALL in an attempt to score?"

Those 5 letters kind of forced me to change my mind.

If I would have to catch up to the ball, and there's only a 50-50 chance of me reaching it before the GK, then there's no doubt in my mind that I would take a dive. Also what comes into mind is if the defender is the last defender or if there are other defenders around. If it's the latter, then that means there's a less chance on scoring if you remain on your feet since I would have to not only beat the 'keeper but also make sure not to lose possession to the opposition surrounding me. So, anyway, yeah, I guess I would jump over his outstretched leg and keep going if he was the last defender and if I have a good chance of reaching the ball before the goalkeeper.

Wow, sorry for that rant. you can just skip my comment lol!

Jon said...

First, depends on how far the ball is in front of me. If it looks like the defender has no chance, then I'm going for the ball. If I haven't taken the best of touches and it looks like it might be close -- like it did for a certain someone last weekend -- I have to think about it.

And I think a lot of it depends on my reputation in the league. If I'm a superstar, I take the dive knowing that I have a good chance of getting the call. If I'm a rookie, not a chance...gotta go for the ball.

A.C. said...

I keep waiting for Luis to chime in so I can plan how to defend against him! Honestly, I've learned as a defender that the two options are legitimate. Though I think both Eddie Robinson and Michael Parkhurst are effective defenders, I'm more from the Parky school of "good positioning, no foul". I've never faced this situation myself (I've scored only on ghosty runs forward that leave simple finishes if I'm seen for the pass). I would probably jump the leg, though. Only because that's what my habit is - whenever I poke a ball away from a forward, and they make a clumsy tackle to try to get it back. Defenders often don't get that foul call, so it's easier and safer to evade the tackle and catch up to the ball to clear or start a counter.

Jon E said...

Late to the party as always.

I know by know that in any game I'm allowed to play in, I'd at least try to jump over the leg. But that's because I don't play professionally. If I were a pro and smart (and skilled) enough to do it, I'd be like some of the posters here and weigh the odds. If the leg in my way were likely to keep me from catching up to the ball, I'd fall. Otherwise I'd try to jump over it.