Taking penalty kicks with top technique is a skill that can make or break your soccer team's performance in a game. Most teams have players who take most of the direct and indirect free kicks on the field, but the team does not get to choose who takes a penalty kick. The player who takes that kick is the one who was fouled, so if there is ever a chance that you will be in the penalty box during a game, you should know how to take a good penalty kick. You only get one shot, but you get to be just 12 yards away with only the goalkeeper between you and the goal. Use some of these tips to improve your technique.
The best way to get stellar penalty kick technique is to practice shooting at an empty goal. You’ll usually want your shot to end up in one of four places. These are the left corner on the ground, the right corner on the ground, the upper left portion of the goal or the upper right portion. Ideally, you should be able to hit all four of those places consistently to give you several options to choose from in a game situation. To practice, set up a cone at each of the lower corners to give you something to aim at. Also tie something in the upper corners to help you aim there. If you use the goal posts to help you aim, you will likely end up hitting the posts because you are paying so much attention to them. When practicing, use hard shots with either the instep of your shoe or the top of the shoe, near the laces. Both of these locations have the potential to drive a powerful shot.
Penalty Kick Drill
Divide the team into two groups and station each at a goal with a goalkeeper. Gather at least as many balls as players and station them several yards away from the penalty spot. On each player's turn, he sets up a ball on the spot, takes a shot on goal, and then either runs to get the ball if it was a wide shot or runs a short lap to the sideline, up to the halfway line on the field, around to the other sideline, and back to the penalty spot for his next turn. This helps mimic in-game situations, when a player has to take a penalty kick when he is tired.
Game Day Considerations
Before you take a penalty kick in a game, pick one spot in the goal where you want the ball to end up and visualize it. You want your shot to definitely go within the posts of the goal so the only way for it to not score is if the goalie succeeds in blocking it. Although you can base your spot on where the goalie sets up on the line or on your instinct on which side you might have more luck on, your best chance for success is if you know where you are kicking at least 10 seconds before your foot comes in contact with the ball. Put your head down, run at the ball, and take the shot, regardless of what the goalie does.