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Tips For Taking The Perfect Soccer Penalty

Before I shifted my focus to American Football, soccer was my sport of choice, especially during my school days. Playing as a center-forward, my main task was to score goals and contribute to my team’s victories, which also meant shouldering the responsibility of taking penalty kicks.

On the surface, a penalty kick appears straightforward. You’re positioned ten yards from the goal, dead center, with the freedom to place the ball wherever you choose. The only obstacle standing in your way is the goalkeeper.

Taking a penalty kick isn’t just about kicking the ball hard-it’s also about your mindset. If you’re not feeling confident, you might miss it. Coaches, whether from your school or Soccer academies near you, will likely tell you the same thing: believe in yourself and trust your skills. Focus on your breathing, imagine the ball going into the goal, and block out any negative thoughts.

So, how do you add these aspects to your game and make sure you get penalty kicks right most of the time? Here are a few tips that help out.

Pick Your Spot

You should decide where you hit the ball before you start taking the kick. If you are still trying to decide during the run-up it’s likely that you are going to mishit the ball or strike it with such a lack of conviction that is makes it easier for the goalkeeper to make a save. Decide on your spot early and stick to it, as you need to be focused on the kick above all else.

Go For Accuracy

All of the power in the world will mean very little if you aren’t able to get your penalty on target. That’s why you should focus on accuracy above power, at least when you are first starting out or you are trying to improve your penalties. A good way to do this is to bring a bunch of balls to an empty net and pick a spot. Try hitting that spot with each shot, starting again if you miss one. Once you’ve done that, pick another spot and do the same. Over time, you should find that you can pick and hit whatever spot you want, which is when you can focus on hitting your penalty kicks with more power.

Ignore The Keeper

A lot of keepers will try a few mental tactics to put you off. Anybody who has watched former Liverpool F.C. goalkeeper Bruce Grobbelaar’s antics during the 1984 European Cup Final against the Italian side Roma, when his “spaghetti legs” antics distracted the kicker to the point where he smashed his shot over the crossbar. A lot of keepers will try to use distraction tactics, such as moving around on the line, raising their arms or something more outrageous. Put that out of your mind and focus on hitting your spot.

Pick The Shot Type

Do you hit your kicks with the inside of your boot or using the laces? The latter offers power, while the former is better for accuracy. Knowing which technique suits you best is vital if you are to have confidence in your ability to take the kick in the first place. Much like with picking your spot, know how you want to hit the ball before starting your run up.

Go Low

A penalty kick that goes flying into the top corner of the net may look spectacular, but attempting it also ups the chances that you will miss entirely. Instead, hit the ball along the ground and into the bottom corner. This means the keeper has to try to get down quickly, in addition to diving across the goal.