Penalty Kick Strategies for Goalkeepers
March 8, 2013
For goalkeepers, penalty kicks are the hardest job. Within a second, a player can line up, place the ball to the goal, and score before the goalie even has a chance to think what to do! It is always a good idea to have a preplanned (and pre-practiced) strategy for penalty kicks, if you are a keeper.If you watch the pros shoot PKs, you’ll soon realize that the shooters are expected to make the shot more than the keeper is expected to make the save. That right there should take some pressure off of you as a goalie. The first rule, no matter your strategy, is to stay relaxed. If you are nervous you are less likely to make the save than if you are relaxed on your line.
Strategy #1: Stay Centered and Watch
The first strategy is to stay centered, middle of your football goal, not moving your feet, and just watching your opponent. Naturally, you will want to be on your toes so that you can be better prepared to dive in one direction or the other. The best plan here is to watch your opponent’s actions. Follow the eyes, hips, and body. Sometimes your opponent will glance at his spot, and then look either the opposite direction or straight down to try and throw you off. Pay attention to the first place the kicker looks. Next, follow their hips. If your opponent is a right-footed kicker, and his hips are open, he will be going to his right, your left. If his hips are closed, then he will be going to his left, your right. The best place to notice if his hips are open or closed is when he swings his leg back, just prior to his strike. Finally, follow his body. If his body is leaning back, the ball is going upward. If he is bent over his shot, the ball will be downward.
Now this is a lot of information to take in order to try and make a decision in a split second. You need to practice this approach several times. The more you watch different opponents strike the ball, the more you will innately be able to choose which direction to dive. Once it becomes a routine, you will be unstoppable!
Strategy #2: Psych Them Out
The second strategy is to try and make your opponent as nervous as possible. As said above, the more nervous you are, the more likely you are to miss the save. The same rule applies to the shooter. The more nervous he is, the more likely he is to miss the shot. I’ve seen several tactics to “psyching out” the opponent (including literally walking up to the shooter, shaking his hand, and wishing him luck). The one that has seemed to work the best is the following approach:
1. Pick the side that you dive best to, and take a step in the opposite direction (If you dive better to your right, take a step left. If you dive better to your left, take a step right.) This will leave a little more room to one side, making the side to which you dive better more appealing for the shooter.
2. Then, put your arm out, closing the gap slightly. So, if you leave more room to your right, stick your right arm out. If you leave more room to your left, stick your left arm out. This will make the shooter rethink his decision about which way to shoot.
3. Then as the shooter gets ready to shoot, jump back to the center of the goal (with your arm still out), making the shooter change direction completely. Then take another jump back to the side you stepped to previously, and go back and forth until the shooter strikes the ball. This will make the shooter nervous in his decision, and hopefully make him either shoot at you, above the goal, or to the side of the net.
This approach is useful in distracting the shooter. However, it can throw you off balance, and make you less quick in your reaction. That is something you will have to be aware of. It takes a lot of practice to make sure you are still efficient in your “save-making”.
Strategy #3: Guess
Sometimes, especially in the highly-competitive level, your shooter is very good at penalty kicks and picks a spot and sticks to it, no matter how hard you try to distract him. That’s when sometimes your best option is to pick a side that you think the shooter will shoot at, and go with it. If you happen to guess the correct side, your reaction time is impeccable, and chances are better that you will make the save. This gives you a “one-up” on your opponent. However, if you guess incorrectly, you will end up diving in the opposite direction the kick goes.
This is the least effective strategy I have seen, but is sometimes necessary, depending on your shooter. If you have seen this shooter before, or are in a highly-competitive league, this could be your only defense.
Written by: Bonnie Koon