Top Tips For Taking Penalty Kicks in Football

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Top Tips For Taking Penalty Kicks in Football

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Top Tips For Taking Penalty Kicks in Football

Penalty kicks are a decidedly cruel format for deciding championships. Quite often the team who performed best over the 90 minutes go home empty handed because the opposing team had the better penalty takers. These ‘placed balls’ are often the source of much debate over whether or not they should have been given as their provision can change the course of an entire game. The key element here is that once a referee decides it’s a penalty there is no changing his decision. Therefore the team awarded the penalty must capitalise on the opportunity. There are several excellent tips that a penalty taker should use when taking a penalty. 

1. Adopt a style

There are two types of penalty takers “blasters” and “placers”. Blasters aim to beat the keepers with a forceful strike that speeds past the keeper giving him virtually no time to react. This type of shot is played with the instep. The disadvantage here is that direction is more difficult to control and can often result in scooping the ball over the cross bar or pulling / pushing it wide of the target.

Placers use a different technique executed with the side of the boot to place the ball usually right in the corner. This technique provides less power but greater accuracy. It’s very difficult for a keeper to reach a well placed kick to the corner. 

Which ever technique you select is a matter of personal preference. The most important tip here is to select one and only one style and practice it religiously. It’s critical that you stick to this one style particularly under pressure. You will strike the ball more comfortably and proficiently if you stick to one technique.

2. Make up Your Mind

It’s very important that the penalty taker decides exactly what they intend to do with the ball before they commence they step towards the ball to take the shot. Many skilled players wait to see what direction the keeper moves and decide to strike the ball the other direction at split second before impact. This is a dangerous strategy for most players because if you do not have a definite target in mind, you will not strike the ball confidently and thus you are more likely to miss it. So decide exactly what you want to do with the ball before you commence the strike, and don’t change your mind during the strike. 

3. Visualise the ball rattling the back of the net

Confidence is the key to scoring the goal. A useful tip is to visualise the ball rattling the back of the net in your minds eye. Quickly recall a wonderful penalty you scored in the past and focus on recreating it successfully. This will fill you with confidence and help keep a positive mindset.

4. Deceive the Goalie

The goalie will try and guess the direction a player will strike the ball based on their body language and eye movement. Therefore the penalty taker must sufficiently deceive the keeper with their pre shot set up. The player should angle themselves off the side of the ball before deciding exactly what they will do with the ball.

It’s important to keep hips flared open and ensure eye movement wanders around the goals to confuse the keeper. Some penalty takers ensure the keeper sees them eyeing a particular corner and then hits the ball to the opposite corner. This technique works well if the penalty taker varies it. Some penalty takers make the mistake of sticking to one deception technique and opposing teams get accustomed to these and guess the deception. Its often more successful to use both top and bottom corners as deception point e.g. fixate on bottom right corner and strike it top left corner. This ensure even if the keeper calls the bluff with regards the direction of the shot they will have dived too high or too low for the shot taken.

Never make eye contact with the keeper, focus on the ball. The keeper will jump around to try and put the player off their shot, so ignoring them will eliminate the distraction.

Some players like to introduce hesitation into their penalty taking technique. They run to the ball and instead of striking it immediately they pause and wait to see if the keeper will dive one direction so that they hit the ball in the opposite direction. This can work well for the confident player but it is risky as the ‘power factor’ is significantly reduced.

5. Relax

It’s important to decide exactly on where you want the ball to finish and then focus 100% on the shot. This will eliminate the crowd factor and the goalie trying hard to distract you. Do not let fear creep into your mind. A last minute thought of a missed penalty will make you more nervous and thus more likely to miss the penalty. Smile before you take the penalty this sends a message to your sub conscious mind that you are super confident, totally relaxed and it also sends a subtle message to the keeper that you know you are going to score. Take a deep breath and commence the strike.

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