EXPERT SESSIONS AND ADVICE FOR GRASSROOTS SOCCER COACHES

Six ways to get your keeper saving penalties

Former Watford and Brentford keeper Richard Lee was great at saving penalties. He also runs training courses for young goalkeepers. Here he gives Dave Clarke six tips that will help your stopper saving more penalties.

PSG Katarzyna Kiedrzynek

Paris Saint Germain’s Katarzyna Kiedrzynek shows her heartache at letting in a penalty

1 PREPARE PSYCHOLOGICALLY

As obvious as it sounds, you need to get your goalkeeper into the mindset that he is going to save penalties. Talk positively ahead of a match and reinforce the message that your keeper can and will save spot kicks. If he believes the odds are in the penalty taker’s favour, chances are he won’t make a save. The keeper should be thinking ‘if I go the right way, I am going to save this’.

2 TIMING IS EVERYTHING

When practising penalties in training, try out some new things with your keeper. Get him to move a split second earlier than he usually would do when facing a penalty. Timing your dive is crucial in facing a penalty and you can easily go too early or too late. By going ever so slightly earlier with the dive, your keeper may well find his success rate in stopping the ball is increased.

3 GAIN SOME CRUCIAL YARDS

Emphasise to your goalkeeper that there is an advantage to be had by angling your dive slightly forward when attempting to save a penalty. Show your keeper some clips of Liverpool and Spain goalkeeper Pepe Riena facing penalties, as he is a master at angling his dives when saving spot kicks. He will end up two or three yards off his line after the penalty has been taken and will narrow the striker’s angle.

4 JUDGE WHO YOU’RE UP AGAINST

Talk through with your goalkeeper what certain opposition players might be likely to do with their penalty kicks. It’s a generalisation I know, but a centre-half might be more likely to hit the ball straight down the middle as hard as he can. If a player runs up to the ball at a narrow angle, it’s unlikely they will be able to open themselves up enough to get it in a corner.

5 UNSETTLE THE OPPONENT

You should be supportive of techniques your goalkeeper might use to unsettle the penalty taker, such as movement on the line or ‘spaghetti legs’, so long as he is a good position to dive and make a save when the kick is taken. As you would advise a penalty kicker to not change their mind when taking a penalty, tell your goalkeeper to trust his instincts and fully commit to going where he thinks the ball is going.

6 TRUST YOUR GOALKEEPER

If you are going into a penalty shoot-out for example, it’s no time for you to be giving your goalkeeper technical instruction. Instead give him massive encouragement, tell him to enjoy the shootout and state the fact that this is of course his time to make himself a hero. Don’t under estimate the importance of your goalkeeper being fit and agile in saving penalties. Work on his physical training as much as you would do with an outfield player.

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