Results, which Diaz plans to submit to a scientific journal when he's done with follow-up studies, showed that half of the people were terrible at guessing where the ball went. The other half, however, excelled at it.
Those who did well may have zeroed in a few specific body movements, the study suggested. They also tended to wait slightly longer to make a decision.
But that's time that goalies just don't have in real-game situations, said Richard Ginsburg, co-director of the Massachusetts General Hospital Sport Psychology Program in Boston. While the new findings might eventually give both kickers and goalies new ways to outsmart each other, he said, dissecting a sport into its scientific parts can never produce a perfect player.
With high-stake games, lots of emotion flowing, and tremendous amounts of pressure on the players, psychology starts to play a big role. That will always make results unpredictable.
"This kind of science can only take you so far," said Ginsburg, who has also played and coached soccer. "There are an enormous number of factors that go into this. There will always be these other variables that will be unknown."