Soccer coaching tips to help goalies read penalties

Seventy per cent of the penalty kicks at the last World Cup went to the opposite side of the foot the kicker took the penalty with. If professionals make that choice, then how much more likely are young players to do so? Use the following soccer coaching tips to get goalies prepared for penalties.
Key soccer coaching tip: right-footed kickers shoot to their left, the keeper’s right, and vice versa.

1. Get your goalkeeper to read the shot

  • Tell your players to watch the penalty-taker’s eyes and body shape. Before young players shoot they often look at the corner they are going to hit the ball.
  • As well as watching the body language, a goalie must also watch the player’s approach. A very wide approach often indicates the shooter is going towards the opposite corner. A straight-on approach gives fewer clues.
  • Get your players to watch the plant foot. The ball often goes where the plant foot points.
  • And then the hips. The ball goes where the hips point. A “push pass” shot will require the hips to open up in the direction the ball is going.
  • Even the head. If junior penalty takers often drop their heads low and have a big pull-back of the leg — expect a cross-body shot. If the head stays up he’s going for the opposite corner.

image shows tips to improve your goalie's ability to save penalties

Key soccer coaching tip: don’t react too soon. Use the clues to predict where the ball might go but wait a split second to be sure it really is going there.

2. Junior penalties are often poorly hit

Many penalties, especially at the youth level, are poorly taken, either weakly hit or right down the middle. Often the goalkeeper can easily make the save if they just wait and simply react to the shot.

Click here for a fun game to develop the skills of your talented penalty-takers.