You’re playing a tight game against a tough opponent. The score’s 6-6 and with less than 10 seconds to play, your team receives a penalty shot. A big opportunity to score and the whole team wants you to take it… A big lump settles in your throat. The hall is completely silent as you set foot on the field. Focus now. You touch the ball once and you start up running towards towards the goal. When you enter the slot you quickly think about the move you are going to make, but… DANG! The goalies foot hits the ball and with the tail between your legs you start to make the ‘walk of shame’ back to your teammates.
Granted, we’re not all Mika Kohonon. But why does this seem to happen all the time?! Here’s five reasons why, and how to improve on them!
#1 Form A Plan
Think in advance and create a plan about the move you want to do. Sure, you can always (in a split-second) decide you’re switching to a back-up penalty, but having an idea in mind gives you confidence and a safe plan to fall back on.
#2 SPEED FORWARD IS NOT REALLY WHAT A PENALTY NEEDS
Take your time. Start slowly, maybe make a zigzag motion to try to bring the goalie out of his position. You want the goalie to get confused, not knowing anymore where his goal is located (exactly). Optionally, try a fake shot every now and then to really get to his nerves.
#3 DO NOT START YOUR MOVE TOO LATE
You have a reach of about two meters, making it relatively easy to move the ball around the goalkeeper. However, if you start your move too late, the goalie can (and WILL!) extend his legs, making it impossible for you to get past. Don’t. Start. Too. Late.
#4 PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT
Practice! Taking penalties is not only a technical act but also a psychological. You can practice your moves on your own, but in the end just find a goalie willing to help you for a couple of minutes. Fake it until you make it!
#5 Keep it easy
The simplest performance is usually the best one. Online you’ll find crazy penalty shots, awesome airhooking goals and more, but most of the time the penalties turning in a goal are the easy ones. Try it!
Do you often take penalty shots? Or do you have any more advice for penalty shooters? Let us know!
This article was originally published in 2017.