Penalties are difficult – sometimes even unfair. But what options do we have?
If you are a soccer player, you know the intensity that a one-off penalty kick or a full-fledged shootout brings to the table. You need to be on your guard and on your toes – all the time.
Shooting off a penalty isn’t necessarily a straightforward affair. More often than not, you need a bit of luck to go with your skills. Sometimes, even being a champion soccer star doesn’t really help!
So how does one go about improving their chances of scoring a goal with a penalty? Let’s find out!
Know the goalie’s prominent foot!
The very first thing that many players have to do – but still give a miss – before entering a professional soccer match is to know the goalie’s prominent foot.
It doesn’t sound like much, but it’s really important. If the goalkeeper is right footed, you will invariably find it easier to score off his left side – and vice versa. Once you know his foot, the job is as easy as tapping the ball with ease.
Of course, this isn’t an air-tight solution because many goalkeepers are more or less equally adept on both sides. What do you do in that case?
Hard and high – as the age-old coaching manual states!!
Know your numbers like the back of your hand!
Many, many players tend to shoot penalties off their instincts. Sometimes it works, most of the times it doesn’t. What goes wrong?
Well, even the greats of the game do their homework. Considered one of the most clinical penalty takers in the Premier League history, Frank Lampard (success rate = 90%) has famously explained his pre-game homework schedule that involved analysing favourite diving drills of the opposition goalie.
So, next time you aim from 12 yards, make sure you anticipate the goalie’s dive based on his previous outings!
Know when to shoot
This is a rather delicate matter. There are many different variations of it. But you need to be dead-sure about when you are going to shoot. Being sure about timing makes sure that you give yourself the best chance to beat the goalie’s dive – even if you misjudge his direction.
Miss a moment and you might as well kiss a goodbye to all the hopes of scoring a sweet goal if the referee intervenes. See how even Messi had to learn it the hard way!
Follow the goalie’s eyes
This is a classic advice that coaches and veterans have for youngsters. You need to follow the goalie’s eyes in the small time window between placing the ball on the spot and initiating your kick– because eyes give it all away!
Don’t turn your back on the goal-post after placing the ball. You can just take a few steps backwards to reach your mark.
But at the same time, make sure your own eyes don’t give your intentions away!
Know where it’s safe to shoot
If you still fail to anticipate, you should know the areas that you need to target.
It’s a very well-known and understood fact that the best chances to score goals rest in the top corners. But beware the bar – alright?