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Taking a penalty kick is one of the most important parts of the game of soccer yet most teams practice this until the last moment.  Some teams forget to prepare for this heading into a tournament or cup games where the final result is decided through penalties. 

Most teams have one or two designated penalty kick takers.  It is important to practice taking penalties no matter your position or if you are the designated penalty kick taker.  You never know when you will be called upon so but if opportunity arises then follow these tips and they will surely help you score your goal.

Step # 1) Were to shoot on net: there are various options to shoot, however you must pick a corner that you feel most comfortable with.  If this corner is bottom left, then practice over and over shooting on this corner.  Nevertheless, it is good to have a second option.  Just be sure to decide before you kick which corner you will shoot on and stick with it.           

Step #2) What to look at:  it is best to decide prior to shooting where you will kick the ball in the net.  Do not make eye contact with the goalie or part of the net you are shooting.  Concentrating on the ball and seeing with your peripheral where about the goalie is on the line will help determine if you should chose that corner.  If the ball is struck with enough force and accuracy the goalie will not be able to save it. 

Step #3) Visualize before you shoot where you want the ball to go and picture it going in the net.  Visualization is a powerful tool many athletes in all sports use.  In fact, in parts of life it can be beneficial.  

Step #4) How far back should your run be:  contrary to what some players believe a run that is anywhere from 4-8 steps back is sufficient to properly strike the ball with power and accuracy. 

Step #5) Have the desire to step up and take the penalty kick.  After all, what is the worst that can happen?  You don’t score?  From youth leagues to world cup finals all athletes, no matter their skill level or size of pay cheque have missed penalty shots.  The agony or embarrassment of missing is part of the game.  However, those that miss are often motivated to succeed even more so.  These athletes will train harder to prove their critics wrong and be successful in the future.  Missing a penalty should not scare you from taking them in the future but rather prove to yourself that you can be successful.   

Step #6) Do not psych yourself out.  You have to WANT to take the kick.  Being confident in yourself, and having self belief is a form of leadership that will be greatly respected amongst your teammates. 

Step #7) Ignore any trash talking or psyching out you may hear from the opposing players.  Getting you off your game and to think about other things right before taking a penalty shot is just what they want.  If it’s enough to cause you enough to distract you then they have achieved their goal.  You must be mentality strong.  Do not look at these players or react to any talking that may go on.  Your duty is put the ball in the back of the net.  Ignore all other comments.

Step #8) Mix it up.  If you are the regular shooter and goalies learn through scouting reports and word of mouth what your favorite place to shoot on net is then it is good to have other options.  Most professional soccer players have a favorite spot on net to shoot but it is important to change your routine.  By mixing up where you shoot on net you become more unpredictable.  This increases your threat on goal because you have many options.  A good time and place to practice is after a training session.  Not only by then are you tired from training but it will help simulate a game situation. 

Step #9) Practice, practice, practice.  The more you practice taking penalty kicks the easier it becomes.  You want to become comfortable so that when the time comes it becomes second nature.  When the time comes to take a penalty shot more than likely you will be nervous but there is no reason to be scared.  You must believe in yourself and your abilities.  With the proper training you will successfully be able to convert your penalty into a goal and celebrate the end results.   

What tips or recommendations do you have for taking a penalty kick?  As always, your comments and feedback are greatly appreciated.

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