With penalties being a rather hot subject over the last few days, and England’s ineptitude to convert them being the main talking point, I was wondering if it is possible to teach yourself to take a perfect penalty. And if it exists, exactly which type of penalty would be considered the easiest, yet most effective to score?
I’ve had a few conversations with friends over the years about spot kicks, and it seems the majority of people regard a perfect penalty as one that is as close as possible to the top corner (either side) of the goal.
If you get it right, a kick to the very top corner of the goal is pretty much impossible to stop. A goalkeepers natural reaction is to either dive left or right, or stay in the middle. A keeper can’t physically reach the top corner of the goal if he is positioned in the middle as you take the kick.
But the biggest problem surely is the lack of control involved with lifting the ball into a specific area of your target. To lift the ball, you must lean backwards. As soon as you lean backwards, you are losing the amount of control you have over the flight of the ball.
Glenn Hoddle was a great example of a penalty taker who preferred to hit the top corner. But is technical ability was second to none, making his style very hard to emulate.
At amateur level, I would advise the use of pace, combined with a low shot aimed towards the back corner of the net. The lower you keep the ball, the more accuracy you have over it, and the more margin for error you obtain (a miskicked shot will not necessarily miss the target).
Practising penalties is a must, be be aware that it is highly unlikely you will ever be able to simulate the emotion, pressure and expectation of a competitive spot kick.
Many professional footballers dread taking penalties. Technically they should have no problem passing the ball into a specific part of the goal from just 12 yards, but we all know that a successful penalty requires far more than just ability.
Practise is meant to make perfect. But with spot kicks there will always be a grey area.