Penalty Kicks

A well directed, firmly struck penalty in football is almost impossible for the goalkeeper to save, and yet penalties are frequently missed. Many football or soccer competitions, including the World Cup, European Championships, and F.A. Cup include a penalty shoot-out when the game tied after extra-time. England have been knocked out of the World Cup on penalty kicks. Technique is important, but coaches also need to consider the psychology of taking a penalty kick.

There are two broad categories of penalty takers, namely “placers” and “blasters”. The first technique is to kick the football hard with the instep, whereas the second technique is to use the side of the foot. The advantage of the side foot is accuracy, but it lacks the power of using the instep, and it’s important that the ball is struck firmly using this method. The instep method provides plenty of power, but there is more risk of scooping the ball over the cross bar, or snatching at it and dragging it wide of the goal. Whichever technique is used is a matter of personal preference, and in the professional game there are excellent penalty takers using either method.

Pyschologically, it’s important to keep calm, and not allow the goalkeeper to be a distraction when taking a penalty kick. Goalkeepers will try anything to put you off, including jumping up and now and trying to intimidate you. It’s best to check the goalkeeper’s position in case he is leaving one half of the goal completely open, but be sure to concentrate on the football as you take the tick. Some players find that taking a deep breath before taking a penalty helps.