The Penalty-Kick Game Under Incomplete Information
University of CEMA
May 1, 2012
University of CEMA Economics Serie Documentos de Trabajo No. 487
This paper presents a model of the penalty-kick game between a soccer goalkeeper and a kicker, in which there is uncertainty about the kicker’s type (and there are two possible types of kicker). To find a solution for this game we use the concept of Bayesian equilibrium, and we find that, typically, one of the kicker’s types will play a mixed strategy while the other type will choose a pure strategy (or, sometimes, a “restricted mixed strategy”). The model has a simpler version in which the players can only choose between two strategies (right and left), and a more complex version in which they can also choose a third strategy (the center of the goal). Comparing the incomplete-information Bayesian equilibria with the corresponding complete-information Nash equilibria, we find that in all cases the expected scoring probability increases (so that, on average, the goalkeeper is worse off under incomplete information). The three-strategy model is also useful to explain why it could be optimal for a goalkeeper never to choose the center of the goal (although at the same time there were some kickers who always chose to shoot to the center).
Number of Pages in PDF File: 32
Keywords: soccer penalty kicks, mixed strategies, Bayesian equilibrium, incomplete information
JEL Classification: C72, L83working papers series
Date posted: July 25, 2012
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