Sometimes a game is decided by a single moment. If you have the opportunity to sink the ball with a penalty in the net, you have a good chance. But most penalties that do not find their way into the goal are not thwarted by spectacular goalkeeper parades, but are simply the result of a bad shot. That should not happen to you. Learn how to shoot accurate penalties so that your team can count on you in important eleven-meter situations.
Part. 1 Shoot a penalty
- Place the ball itself. Lasse not do the referee, the goalkeeper or another player. You’re the one who will take the penalty, so you should be the one who sets the ball. Pass your hand through the grass to clear any lumps, stones and twigs, then set the ball as high as possible on the lawn.
Ideally, the ball should not be on the ground, but on the lawn, so you have the best chance to hit it clean. But do not worry, if that does not work your chances of getting a good hit are still very high. Just pay close attention to how the ball lies so you can hit it the way you want it.
- Start three or four steps. Place the ball, take three steps back and one to the side of your weaker foot. You do not have to make a long run, most players just need to take one step and another to neatly place the foothold in order to get enough pressure behind the ball. More than that is actually unnecessary, but do it the way you feel most comfortable. Try a few variations and find out what works best for you.
Some footballers think that starting from the half-field gives them more power when shooting. This may seem intimidating, but in reality you’ll have to slow down before the shot to make sure your leg is neatly beside the ball. Ten steps of start – or even more – do not help, just tire yourself faster.
- First, win the psycho game. Do not look at the goalkeeper, do not listen to what the opponent or anyone else is saying. Hide the field, look at the ball and think about what you will do. Nothing is important at this moment, only that you sink the ball in the net. The goalkeeper will probably jump around, waving his arms and trying to look self-confident. He does that because he knows for sure that you will turn the penalty. Stay focused and calm and you’ve come one step closer to the goal.
If you feel particularly self-confident, you can also stare wildly at the goalkeeper. Burn a hole in the net behind him with your eyes. Shame him.
Statistically, more penalties go past the gate than they are held by the goalkeeper. Your biggest opponent in the penalty is not the goalkeeper, but you yourself. Remember.
- Choose a corner and stick to it. The best corner to turn a penalty? Where you want it. Penalties, no matter where they are shot, are likely to score. But if you think about it too much, you are in your way. So do not let it change your mind at the last second and choose another corner. No thought will help you at this moment, just distract you. Choose a corner and be aware that this will be the right one.
Statistically, most penalties are in the lower left corner, followed by the upper left. After that comes the lower right. This is because most footballers have a strong right foot and thus naturally kick the ball to the left.
If you are unsure, keep the ball flat. Shots in the upper corners are seldom held, but they often miss the goal. If you’re a very accurate shotgun, shooting into the angles will give you the best odds, but statistically, chances of a miss are highest there.
- Relax and take a deep breath. Once you have set the ball and decided which corner you want to shoot the ball in, then relax. Feel confident. More than 70% of all penalties are transformed. Concentrate on the shot and your technique and wait for the whistle of the referee. Know that you will sink the ball.
Imagine how the shot goes past the keeper and lands on the net without looking at the corner of the gate you are going to shoot. Imagine your movement as you hit the ball clean and powerful, scoring a goal for your team.
When the referee whistles, it’s best to take the penalty as quickly as possible so you do not have time to doubt yourself and make a bad decision. You do not have to outsmart the goalkeeper. Now the moment has come.
- Shoot the ball with the inside roll. Place your foothold next to the ball and push the ball with the inside instep. So you have the best control of the ball and can best steer it into the corner in which you want to accommodate him. Pull the shot movement through to bring a lot of power behind the ball.
Some footballers prefer to shoot the full-tension ball to produce an even more powerful shot. This variant is also completely fine. However, it is inaccurate.
If you want to shoot the ball in one of the upper corners, place your foothold behind the ball and lean slightly over it so it does not go over the goal. You should always do that when aiming at the angles.
If you want to keep the ball on the ground, use the inside instep and push the ball with full force. The goal is not too accurate: the ball does not have to touch the post, but only land on the net.
- Leave your teammate the extra margin, should there be one. If you hit the post, do not rush the ball immediately. Another player, be it an opponent or a teammate, must have touched the ball before you can shoot it again. However, if the goalkeeper has blocked him, an opponent was on the ball and you can, if you can, convert the extra margin.
Part. 2 Practice penalties
- Develop a repertoire of different shot variations. However, you should not have more than three options in mind when heading for the penalty spot. Do not make it harder for you than absolutely necessary. Practice three different penalties and leave it at that. Perfect all three, so you can be sure that no matter which of the variants you choose, you will definitely meet. So study your three favorite variations.
Most goalkeepers randomly choose the left or right side, making it hard to anticipate which one to pick this time. It is always a game of chance. But if the goalkeeper has prepared for your penalties before, it is always good to have more than one on offer. Remember, more shots will pass than being held by the goalkeeper. So it’s up to you.
Most penalties are fired in the lower right corner. Most goalkeepers assume that right-wingers try to outsmart them by shooting into their unnatural corner. But for you it is better to take the easy way and not to complicate the process as necessary. Shoot in the corner where you have the best feeling.
- Practice penalties when you are exhausted. Anyone can kick a ball into the net a few times, but if you’ve been fighting for balls on the field for an hour, your legs will be tired. But still you have to be able to shoot a great penalty. So practice it. Practice penalties after training when tired. Learn to calm down and take a deep breath, focus on the shot and turn the ball.
- Miss your start and practice different steps. Some shooters have two steps to get the pressure behind the ball they want. Others need more. Maybe you want to get involved in mind games with the goalkeeper and therefore take another, more unusual start. That’s fine. Practice different start-up variations to see what you like best.
Some shooters prefer to take a few more steps to slow down before taking the last few steps and shooting. This helps to get the goalkeeper out of his timing, which is why he might decide on a corner in front of you. Then you can insert into the empty corner.
- Practice with disabilities. Again, it’s easy to shoot the ball into an empty net. Practice with a goalie who distracts you. Practice with your little brother, who makes fun of you behind you and tells you that you’ll shoot anyway. Practice with loud music, in the rain. Practice in the worst circumstances and you will be prepared for anything.
- Practice blindly. Now it’s time to bring Zen into play. If you want to take your elf skills to a new level, practice with your eyes closed. Literally. The size of the gate and the distance to this are always the same. This means that your start-up, technique and shot should be automatic. You should be able to turn the penalty even with your eyes closed. Why not try it? If you master this technique, you will be bursting with self-confidence in the penalty.
- Choose between a shot with the inside instep or the full span trying to find no compromise.
- Remember to relax and breathe deeply. Think about ways to calm down in pressure situations – the real pressure is on the goalkeeper anyway.
- Your chances are much higher.
- Practice make the master – good luck.
- You do not have to balance the ball – practice more emotional shots first. The more feeling you develop for it, the harder shots you can build on it.
- Practice shooting in the same corner over and over again.