Preparing for penalties

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    Peter Terry

    Thanks Julian


    After reading the other participants answers which cover great point and being a former Aust, soccer players wife…

    Practise, before each practise shot imagine how and where the ball will be placed…there are many ways to use visualisation. Not only during practise but before a game is crucial…

    Ayan Chatterjee

    I agree with a lot of training methods that people have suggested above, for my part i would just like to add one important thing that i would try and tell the players that i’m gonna be working with. Ideally the players should just try and focus on hitting the target trying to forget about the goal keeper. I would then ask them to visualise possible negative outcomes of the penalty without the goal keeper. The focus then would be threefold
    Hitting the desired part of the ball, so focusing on where they want to make contact with the ball.
    Making sure that they don’t slip on the final step right before contact with the ball. Being able to play out the whole scenario of making contact with the ball till it hits the back of the net. This would be done before training for a penalty as well as after the penalty in order to see if they succeed in picturing it all in their heads as well as they executed it


    -IMAGERY training
    -Personal ROUTINES
    -MASTERY EXPERIENCES (Through lot of practice and under psychological preassure)
    -VICARIOUS EXPERIENCES (Video modeling of past penalty competitions)

    Stephen Githinji

    The sessions would end with a simulation of a match situation that leads us to the shoot out.
    I would vary 3 scenarios leading to the shootout. i.e.
    Firstly a goalless draw,
    Then a draw in which we relinquished a lead and finally,
    A draw in which we came from behind to tie the match.

    In each session I would urge the players to each visualize their entire sequence of movements leading to the moment they take the spot kick.
    I would accentuate the feel of the environment by playing stadium noise through the PA, or appointing younger players to simulate crowd noises (both supportive and opposing)
    At the end of each kick I would have the players synthesize their emotions in relation to the outcome of their kick (whether they scored or not)
    Have them identify the positives from a successful attempt and strive to reproduce it in their mind.
    Have them identify the negatives from a missed kick, identify a solution and reproduce the intervention in their mind.
    Finally, I would have them journal their entire experience, mental and physical in a training diary.


    Fo Me When I taking this opportunitie to score. Imagine do like my idol Pele..Self talk to myself, full consentration, and Confidence to score..


    To prepare a player/team for taking penalties I would focus heavily on mental preparation. The professional players all know physically/technically how to take a penalty, its the environment and circumstances that cause them to fail, the pressure that they put on themselves and the expectation that they feel.
    1. prepare a pre-shot routine – everything from deep breathing or centering (as discussed in concentration and anxiety module), through to physical movements and self talk cues.
    2. practice imagery of the whole penalty shoot-out ie seeing other team mates and opponents taking the penalties, imagining the emotions that you want to feel, the words you’ll use to stay focused when others on your team miss. Re-create the emotional state you want to be in when you step forward ie calm and composed. Repeatedly visualise the process of taking a spot-kick – physically/technically and emotionally. Focus more on the process but obviously focus on seeing a successful outcome too.
    3. Heavily emphasise a focus on the process rather the penalty shoot out outcome. Focusing on the process relieves the pressure.


    Pre-imagery: deciding strengths on pentalty (e.g. side, lob, power).
    Hear crowd roar. Imagine slow silencing, they become background noise. Visualising the goal frame, the goalie, looking at the posts. Imagine self practising decision-making: instinct or pre-decided penalty type and visualise self visualising the execution in front of the ball.
    Visualise ball placement, looking down at the ball. Ball feels cold (unless wearing gloves), solid. Stays still.
    Stepping back, counting steps.
    Hear referee whistle.
    Breathe in and kick/breathe out.
    Imagine post penalty exaltation.

    George Morrison

    there have been some interesting suggestions here that I never thought of, so thanks for those who suggest a penalty shoot out is different from a penalty in normal time resulting from infringement. that would make a nice bit of research. Personally I still think preparation is all about knowing exactly where the ball will end up and the potential taker can use imagery to practice hitting the same spots on the net. the worst thing a player can do is change his or her mind because of pressure resulting from goalkeeper antics or the success or failure of teammates.


    I would focus on having the athletes imagine both a hostile and friendly environment. The athlete must then create unique scenarios in which their penalty kick will: win the match for their team, tie the match for their team, put their team up, and cut into the deficit of the the opposing team’s lead. The athletes then must imagine kicking in multiple directions: down to the left, down to the right, down the middle, upper left, upper right, and upper middle. If the athletes can successful complete these unique components they should be able to recall them at a later time when they are faced with a similar situation when it counts. Hopefully with continued use of the imagery techniques they won’t overthink and simply react to the imagines and memories they have been practicing.


    Interesting… So is it the team that is failing or is it the coaches lack of belief that he can create a change that is failing?

    I would have thought reproducing the environment (using sound tracks and footage) from previous shoot outs could create the effect that would be needed. Also additional imagery training between the physical training sessions (again introducing the sound tracks etc), seeing feeling, smelling, tasting and hearing the win. Continue this for a schedule of weeks building both these training regimes into the program, monitoring the improvements etc until consistency at training occurs.


    Well I think that penalty shooting has nothing to do with a luck, as if your target is out of reach of the goalkeeper then he can’t do nothing about it. So I believe that it’s all about setting two or three regular high targets which narrows the concentration effort while practicing as well and brings more self confidence when performing the actual penalty kick. And there is a mental training which includes the visualization of the target and the movement of the player, rather then focusing on the goalkeeper as a barrier. Loud noises, people jumping around and behind the goal, changing the colors of the background are all good ways to improve the narrow external concentration.

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