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Leicestershire, UK
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16 November 2011 | PR 11/142

Sports Technology helps James May to take the perfect penalty


James May with Dr Andy Harland

Broadcaster James May has been a recent visitor to Loughborough University, in order to discover how to successfully convert a penalty kick.

James was given the opportunity by researchers at the University’s Sports Technology Institute who, by using a range of measurement tools and high speed video cameras, captured the precise detail of his kicking technique before suggesting areas for improvement.

The visit was to film for the latest series of James May’s Man Lab, which is currently being shown on BBC2.

In the programme James attempts to prove that an Englishman can successfully take a penalty and score a goal.

After learning about the theory and technology at Loughborough, James travels to Germany to take a penalty in front of 20,000 fans in the Veltins Arena in Gelsenkirchen - on the exact spot where England were knocked out of the FIFA 2006 World Cup.

Speaking during his visit to the University James May said:

“We’ve had an ultra-slow motion camera to analyse the moment of the kick but we’ve also had the motion analysis system. We’ve also had the ball tracking system to show where the ball is going after I’ve kicked it, so I can relate what I’ve done to where the ball actually goes. I was impressed.”

Head of the Sports Technology Research Group at Loughborough University Dr Andy Harland said:

“James was great fun, and it was exciting to be able to apply our research equipment and methods to something that is easy for the viewing public to relate to.  I hope that this programme helps to promote science and engineering to a wide audience and inspires more young people to consider careers in this area.”

You can see James’s visit to the University on the Man Lab programme, on the BBC’s iPlayer at:



For all media enquiries contact:

Rob Knott
PR Officer (Sport)
Loughborough University
T: 01509 228686
E: R.A.Knott@lboro.ac.uk 

Notes for editors:

Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links with industry, and unrivalled achievement in sport and its underpinning academic disciplines.

It was awarded the coveted Sunday Times University of the Year 2008-09 title, and is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in national newspaper league tables. In the 2011 National Student Survey, Loughborough was voted one of the top universities in the UK, and has topped the Times Higher Education league for the UK’s Best Student Experience every year since the poll's inception in 2006. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, the University has been awarded six Queen's Anniversary Prizes.

Loughborough is also the UK’s premier university for sport. It has perhaps the best integrated sports development environment in the world and is home to some of the country’s leading coaches, sports scientists and support staff. It also has the country’s largest concentration of world-class training facilities across a wide range of sports.

It is a member of the 1994 Group of 19 leading research-intensive universities. The Group was established in 1994 to promote excellence in university research and teaching. Each member undertakes diverse and high-quality research, while ensuring excellent levels of teaching and student experience.

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This page was last updated on Wednesday November 16, 2011 11:58