If you want to improve your penalties and score more or less every time here are some useful tips on how you can improve your confidence when you step up to the spot. We know from experience that in order to put the ball away you have got to practice lots and work to develop your own style.
You can see the very best penalty takers in the game, guys past and present like Andrea Pirlo, Eden Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne, Sergio Aguero, Bruno Fernandes, all certainly know what it takes to put the ball in the net. They either look at the goalie to understand where he’s going and place it in another area or they have a pre-selected spot they can put the ball to. On the flip side the guys that maybe sky the ball over the bar or deliver a weak shot have let their nerves get the best of them. So in order to avoid that fate you’ve got to really trust your technique and have a very good mental game.
Let’s examine techniques you should master.
The Run Up
The run-up is the very first part with which you should be concerned. Think of Bruno Fernandes with his ‘hesitant’ hop, or Kevin De Bruyne with his confident run up. It’s definitely the place where you can put your own style and flavor on your penally kick. To be safe and secure in your shot what you should do is just take one to three steps back, maybe four and just a little bit of a step out to the side. The goalie is going to be trying to read your hips because that’s what can tell them the direction where you’re going to shoot. If you open yourself up too much the goalie knows almost with certainty that you’re going a specific way. So what you should aim to do in this scenario is make sure that you also have a good amount of power and placement on the shot. We see how some players want to smash the ball as hard as they can but I don’t know if that’s the best thing to do as you will lose accuracy. What I suggest you do is to have maybe 70% power and focus the rest on placement.
Where To Strike The Ball
One of the cool things about taking a penalty is you have time to really focus on a spot on the ball where you will strike it. In open play we have to hit the ball as it’s moving as well often anticipating an incoming tackle. But with a penalty it’s all you and you can take advantage of the time afforded by this play by really choosing the right spot on the ball to hit in order to send the ball to where you want it.
If you’re gonna hit with power you should go with the full instep shot. If you stand too far back and wide it’s going to be really hard to achieve and you will also be thinking about placement. Instead take just a couple steps back and strike through the ball. Keep your head down and try and to go low. If you’re shooting high you run the risk of obviously hitting it over the bar. If you shoot it low you have a much better chance especially with a tall goalkeeper. Placement is obviously a much easier and more secure way to put your penalty away and in that instance we want to strike the ball with the inside of our foot.
Repetition is key. What you want to do is build up an amazing amount of confidence so that even if the goalie knows where you’re going you will put the ball away. The best way to practice is to pick two safe spots in the goal where you want to put the ball. It could be the top right corner or the lower left corner. Then practice hitting these two spots throughout your penalty training sessions. Get your run-up set and try to place the ball continually in the target area. You can build up your confidence by putting the ball there and then slowly put more power on each shot. After you have that down you should put a third thing in your arsenal which is to stare and look at the goalie as you’re running up to the shot. Watch our featured penalty videos and you will see how the pros do this with great effect. The best way to do this is to practice a run-up so the goalie has no idea if you’re gonna shoot to the left or right. Often feigning a power shot with your arms as if you’re going to blast the ball will cause the goalie to set off both early and in a specific direction. Make your run-up steady, you don’t want to be too fast or you will risk losing focus at moment you strike the ball. As you approach the goalie look at him to see if he’s moving left or right or if he’s coming off his line.
A key to taking a successful penalty kick is to choose one of your two spots, and do NOT change your mind. Many designated penalty takers will decide which one they are going to use the night before the game. That is the level of focus you need.
Whichever side you choose stick to it if you’ve practiced hitting that spot then chances are you will score with ease.