Taking a penalty kick in soccer can be a daunting proposition or a welcome opportunity. It all depends on how well you've prepared.
Here are six tips to keep in mind that will help your penalty kicks reach the back of the net consistently:
? You have the most control over shots taken with the inside of the foot. Accuracy and consistency are more important than power.
? A good time to practice penalty kicks is immediately following training. Doing so can simulate having to refocus in the fatigued state you may face later in or following a match. Find a couple of comfortable shots and practice them over and over until they become automatic. Repetition is crucial. You should have one go-to, primary shot, and another secondary shot in case the keeper knows you too well.
? Build a routine; Place the ball on the spot yourself. Focus only on what you are doing. Decide where you are shooting and imagine the ball going in the goal. Step back 4-8 yards from the ball on a slight diagonal. Wait for the whistle. Take the kick within about three seconds.
? Make a decision and stick with it. Most poorly taken kicks are a result of the kicker changing their mind at the last second.
? Balls aimed for the post or upper corner and mishit wide or high will likely go out of play. Instead, aim for the lower half of the back post corner of the net. In this case, balls mishit wide or high still have a good chance of going in (and you'll look like you meant to score just inside the post or in the upper 90!)
? Be confident. More than 75 percent of all penalty kicks in soccer are successful. Along with practice, believing that you'll score is essential!
Paul Harbin is the director of harbinsoccer.com and creator of paulharbin.com. Following the 2010 season, Harbin retired from the college ranks where he coached at the NCAA Division I level (UAB and Mercer University) for 22 years; 18 as a Head Coach. Across his career, Harbin's teams have been known nationally for their skill, talent, and success on the field. As importantly, they've also been known for their many successes off the field, in the classroom and throughout their community. He has been directing successful residential, team and day camps for over 20 years and continues to do so today. As with his teams, the main goal of camp is to help develop confident and responsible young people in an environment that that is both challenging and enjoyable.