This Is The Easiest Way To Score More Penalty Kicks In Soccer

By the end of this post, you will have the skills and knowledge to increase the number of penalties you convert in soccer drastically. You will be able to implement these different skills and techniques immediately and see instant results that will ensure you score more penalty kicks in soccer. This post will also give you an insight into the goalkeepers’ mindset for you to use their strengths against them.

Contents

The key takeaways to scoring more penalty kicks in soccer

To quickly summarise the post, the easiest way to score more penalty kicks in soccer from the research is to aim your penalty kicks into the central and upper areas of the goal, using the inside of your foot with a slower kicking technique to help disguise where you are placing your penalty.

Where is the best place to shoot your penalty kick in soccer to score more penalties?

As a player, you may think that aiming low and into the corners is the best place to shoot your penalty kick in soccer.

However, that isn’t the case.

Although it is the most frequent area where players shoot their penalty kicks, it is not the most successful.

After some digging this is what I found:

Study 1 Penalty placement

Penalty kicks in soccer: an empirical analysis of shooting strategies and goalkeepers’ preferences

A table showing where 286 penalty kicks were distributed in a soccer goal. The column shows the goal split into 3 vertical sections, with the rows showing the goal split into 3 horizontal directions.
A table shows how the 286 soccer penalty kicks were distributed in the goal.
A table showing the probability of the goalkeeper saving 286 of the penalty kicks on goal.
A table to show the penalty-stopping probabilities

This study looks at 286 penalty kicks in soccer in the hope of finding the best place to shoot your penalty kick in soccer.

It showed that penalty kicks that reached the upper third of the goal, across the middle, left, and right was scored 100% of the time.

While on the other hand, the soccer players who shot their penalty to the middle section had their penalty saved 12.6% of the time.

Players shooting their penalty to the lower section saw 19.8% of their penalty saved.

What is even more surprising when you crunch the numbers from this study, is that 56.6% of the penalty kick takers aimed for the lowest section of the goal which is the least successful penalty-taking strategy.

Although it was the least common strategy (37 penalties) The most successful penalty kick was the one aimed towards the upper third of the goal, none of the keepers saved any of these penalties!

Overall shooting your penalty kick down the middle section of the goal (regardless of height) yielded a higher chance of scoring a penalty kick, than aiming to the right or left.

Study 2 Penalty placement

Statistical insight into shootouts – where to place your penalty!

This image shows 3 tables displaying the scoring percentage of penalties from 26 World Cup shootouts and all of the 18 European Championship shootouts. the table on the left shows the overall goal scoring percentage. the table in the middle shows the percentage scored by right footed players and the table on the right shows the percentage scored by left footed players.
3 tables to show the penalty scoring percentage in 26 World Cup shootouts and all of the 18 European Championship shootouts
This image shows 3 tables displaying the scoring percentage of penalties from 26 World Cup shootouts and all of the 18 European Championship shootouts if players hit the target. the table on the left shows the overall goal scoring percentage. the table in the middle shows the percentage scored by right footed players and the table on the right shows the percentage scored by left footed players.
3 tables to show the penalty scoring percentage in 26 World Cup shootouts and all of the 18 European Championship shootouts if all players hit the target.

This study looked at all the penalties taken in the 26 World Cup shootouts and 18 European Championship shootouts and similarly to study one found that there was a higher success rate with penalties that were aimed centrally.

It gets even more interesting when they remove the penalties that hit the woodwork or missed together, the table shows that 100% of these shots made to the top third of the goal went in.

This suggests that when penalty kicks are shot towards the top vertical third of the goal and hit the target, they have an incredibly high chance of converting.

However, these types of penalties carry a higher risk of missing the target altogether.

Whether you are left or right-footed, the greatest success came from shooting the penalty down the middle section of the goal.

Study 3 – Penalty kick placement in the Premier League 2021/22 season

The tables are displayed from the view of the penalty kick taker.

Only penalties that hit the target were counted towards the results.

Total penalty kicks in the Premier League 2021/22 season: 103

Penalty kicks taken in the Premier League 2021/22 season that hit the target: 95

Overall penalty kicks scored in the Premier League 2021/22 season: 84

The total amount of penalty kicks saved in the Premier League 2021/22 season: 11

Two tables are split 6 equal areas. In the first table the numbers in each section represents where left footed penalty takers in the premier league 2021/22 season placed their penalty. The numbers in the second table represent where the goalkeeper saved a penalty from a left footed player in the premier league 2021/22 season
Where left-footed players placed their penalty in the goal and the saves the goalkeepers made from left-footed players in the Premier League 2021/22 season
Two tables are split 6 equal areas. In the first table the numbers in each section represents where right footed penalty takers in the premier league 2021/22 season placed their penalty. The numbers in the second table represent where the goalkeeper saved a penalty from a right footed player in the premier league 2021/22 season
Where right-footed players placed their penalty in the goal and the saves the goalkeepers made from right-footed players in the Premier League 2021/22 season
Two tables are split 6 equal areas. In the first table the numbers in each section represents where total amount of penalty takers in the premier league 2021/22 season placed their penalty. The numbers in the second table represent where the goalkeeper saved a penalty from a total amount of players in the premier league 2021/22 season
Where the total number of players placed their penalty in the goal and the saves the goalkeepers made from all players in the Premier League 2021/22 season

I decided to collect my data from all the penalty kicks that hit the target from the Barclays Premier League 2021/22 season.

In this season 84 penalty kicks were scored, 11 saves were made and 8 would miss the target altogether.

20 of the penalties were taken by left-footed players, of which 18 were scored.

The remaining 75 penalties were taken by right-footed players, of which 66 were scored.

The table shows that overall players preferred placing their penalty kicks in the bottom left and right-hand corners, with the goalkeepers making the most saves on the bottom right-hand corners.

My findings saw similar results to study 1 and study 2 in that the majority of the penalty kicks placed in the upper sections of the goal saw the most success.

However, these attempts were a lot less frequent.

The majority of the goalkeepers’ penalty saves came from penalties that were placed in the lower half of the goal.

11 penalty kicks were saved and 10 of those were aimed at the lower half of the goal.

This is where you need to start placing your penalties to score more penalty kicks in soccer

Statistically speaking, if you want to score more penalty kicks in soccer you need to start shooting your penalties into the center of the goal or anywhere across the upper vertical third of the goal.

Although these to a certain extent carry a higher risk, especially towards the upper left and right side of the goal, all the research shown above tells us that if you hit the target in these areas you are almost guaranteed to score.

Should you use power or placement when taking a penalty kick in soccer?

So you now know that to score more penalty kicks in soccer you need to start aiming for the upper parts and central areas of the goal but which is the best technique, both shots have their advantages and disadvantages;

A placement penalty is great for accuracy as a player will use the inside of their foot in an attempt to place the ball out of the keeper’s reach. However, the penalty kick taker will generate less power, giving the goalkeeper a big window to react to the direction the penalty kick is traveling.

A power penalty is used to attempt to blast the ball beyond the keeper before they are given a chance to react, forcing the keeper to guess a side to divide. The trade-off for this, however, is that the power penalty is often regarded as less accurate.

However which technique will help you consistently score more penalty kicks in soccer?

Study 1 Power vs placement penalty kick

Visual Search Strategies of Soccer Players Executing a Power vs. Placement Penalty Kick

On a 2-D soccer goal there are squares and triangles to show where power and placement penalty kicks in soccer were aimed with and without a goalkeeper
An image showing where 12 university soccer players placed their penalty using a placement/ power penalty with and without a goalkeeper
A graph showing where players spend the most time looking before a penalty kick in soccer. The 5 categories are football, goal, edges of goal, goalkeeper and other.
A graph showing what 12 university soccer players were looking at before taking their power and placement penalties

This study looked at how a power or placement penalty kick technique affected where the kicker would try to place the ball in the goal.

The study found that players who used the power technique were more likely to shoot the penalty in a central position of the goal, whereas players that used the placement technique would try to place the ball in the corners of the goal.

Players taking the power penalty would also spend more time focusing on the ball and the goalkeeper, as opposed to the placement penalty taker, who would spend a greater amount of time looking at the edges of the goal and the goal in general.

Although this doesn’t tell us which technique was the most successful at converting penalties it does give an insight as to the chances of where the ball is placed depending on the technique.

Study 2Power vs placement penalty kick

The effect of fixation transitions on quiet eye duration and performance in the soccer penalty kick: Instep versus inside kicks

A table is split into 9 sections and shows the percentage where the penalty kicks in soccer are placed depending on the technique used
Instep vs inside of the foot penalty placement
This table shows the total penalty kicks goalkeepers faced in the study, how may goals were scored, and how many saves they made
Instep vs inside of the foot penalty saves

This study looked at the instep vs the inside kicks.

Similar to the previous study it found that the majority of instep kicks (44) were placed in more central areas of the goal when compared with the inside kicks (4).

This study also looked at the same percentage of goalkeepers when comparing the 2 kicking techniques.

The goalkeepers were able to save 28% of the instep (power kicks), however only managed to save 12% of the inside (placement) kicks.

When comparing the speed of the kicks the instep (93km/h) was quicker than the inside kick (76km/h).

This study suggests that using an instep (power) kicking technique may be less successful than using an inside (placement) kicking technique.

Unfortunately from this study, we were unable to see what sections of the goal the goalkeepers made the saves in.

This would have helped build a better picture of the best penalty kick shooting technique to use.

Study 3 – Power vs placement penalty kick

Evolving Penalty Kick Strategies: World Cup and Club Matches 2000–2002

This study looked at 37 penalties from the 2002 World Cup and 38 penalties from club matches from 2000 – 2002.

It found that the club matches scored 82% (31/38) of their penalties compared to 70% (26/37).

The study suggests that 2 main differences could of made an impact on success rates of the penalties:

  • Difference 1

Ball placement.

Players in the club matches placed their penalty within 1 yard of the post more frequently (15/38) than penalties taken in the World Cup (7/37).

All the penalties from the club matches also hit the target, with 3 of the World Cup penalties missing altogether.

  • Difference 2

Ball speed.

Penalties taken in the World Cup were significantly faster than penalties taken in the club matches. This shows that players were deliberating trying to use great force when striking the ball, which is often associated with a decrease in accuracy.

Although we don’t know the specific kicking technique used for the penalties, we know from the previous 2 studies that an instep kick generates more power and is typically placed in more central areas.

However, the instep penalty is the penalty that is most frequently saved.

It would have been good to get a better breakdown of the placement of the penalty kicks, which penalty kicks got saved, and the techniques used.

This is the shooting technique you should be using to score more penalty kicks in soccer

Through all the studies, there is enough evidence to recommend that you should be using a placement shooting technique (inside of the foot) to score more penalty kicks goals in soccer.

The power penalty is frequently saved and considered less accurate from the evidence shown.

How can you trick the goalkeeper and make them divide the wrong way on a penalty?

Tricking the goalkeeper and making them divide the wrong way seems like a fairly simple thing to do, however, there are a lot of factors that go into what makes the keeper divide in the first place.

Once you understand what the keeper is looking for to make their diving direction decision, it will be a lot easier for you to deceive them and make them dive the wrong way.

Let’s look at which way a keeper is most likely to dive in a penalty kick

Which way will the keeper divide in a penalty kick?

The table shows where the goalkeeper dived from all penalties that hit the target from the premier league 2021/22 season from the penalty takers perspective. The table is split into 3 columns. The column on the left shows how many time the keeper dived to the left, the middle column shows how often they stayed central and the right column shows how often they dived to the right
Where the goalkeeper would dive in all penalties that hit the target from the Premier League 2021/22 season
The table shows where the goalkeeper dived from all penalties in 26 world cup and 18 european championship. The table is split into 3 columns. The column on the left shows how many time the keeper dived to the left, the middle column shows how often they stayed central and the right column shows how often they dived to the right
Where the goalkeeper would dive in all penalties from 26 World Cup shootouts and 18 European Championship shootouts shown as a percentage

From the tables above it is most likely that the keeper will dive to either left or right, with hardly any keepers staying in a central position.

But what makes a keeper dive in the first place and why do they dive in the direction they do?

To do this we have to get into the goalkeeper’s head and identify triggers, behaviors, and patterns goalkeepers use to try and dive correctly

Study 1 – How to trick the goalkeeper

Anticipation and visual search behavior in expert soccer goalkeepers

This graph shows what the goalkeeper focuses on when a player is taking a penalty kick in soccer. The categories are head, kicking leg, non-kicking leg and hips.
A graph showing the percentage of time successful expert goalkeepers (SE) and none-successful expert goalkeepers (NE) looked at penalty takers before making contact with the ball.

The aim of this study was to help identify the anticipation of the goalkeepers and what they were looking at in the penalty taker to make a decision of which way to dive.

They then compared a more successful group of goalkeeper experts and a less successful group of goalkeeper experts.

The biggest difference, that the study found was that more successful penalty-saving goalkeepers spent a longer viewing time on the non-kicking leg of the penalty taker.

This is because the non-kicking foot usually points to the direction that the ball is going to travel, it has occurred roughly in 80% of penalty kicks.

When the non-kicking leg was planted it gave the goalkeeper 200-250ms to start their dive before contact was made with the ball.

Although other parts of the penalty takers’ body may give better clues as to where they are going to go it does not give the keeper enough time to anticipate where the ball will go.

This suggests that if a penalty taker wants to better disguise the direction of their penalty they must consider the direction their non-kicking foot is facing before striking the ball.

Study 2 – How to trick the goalkeeper

Anticipating the Direction of Soccer Penalty Shots Depends on the Speed and Technique of the Kick

There are 2 graphs and they show the predictability of the directions of penalties that use the instep and side foot technique at different speeds.

This study looked at how the speed and technique of the penalty kickers affect the decision of the goalkeeper when they attempt to save the shot.

Helping predict a penalty shot largely depends on the speed and technique of the kicker.

The study found that typically faster the shots with the inside of the foot were easiest to guess, with the medium to slower with the inside of the foot the hardest to guess.

This was largely attributed to how the body shape and technique of the kicker would change as the speed of the kick would increase using the inside of the foot.

As a whole penalties taken with the inside of the foot were harder to predict than those with the instep.

There are 2 rows of 5 pictures that show a player using a fast side-foot technique with the top image going to the goalkeepers left and the bottom row going to the keepers right

Using a video recording set up from the goalkeeper’s perspective the study was able to identify how the body shape would change along with the technique a player is using.

When a player is using a fast technique their left arm, hips, and torso give the shot direction away earlier in the kicking action.

There are 2 rows of 5 pictures that show a player using a medium side-foot technique with the top image going to the goalkeepers left and the bottom row going to the keepers right

When you compare this with a slower kicking technique using the inside of the foot, the run-up reveals very little about the direction of the shot.

This means the goalkeeper will spend a greater time looking for body cues to correctly guess the direction of the penalty, giving them less time to react and dive in a direction.

The study suggests that to maximize the chance of scoring a penalty kick in soccer, a slower shot should be used for improved accuracy and to increase the chances of the keeper diving in the wrong direction.

This is how you trick the goalkeeper and make them dive the wrong way on a penalty kick

From the studies above, the best way to trick a goalkeeper to score more penalty kicks in soccer is to use a slower kicking technique using the inside of your foot, as well as actively trying to point your non-kicking away from the direction you want to shoot your penalty.

This helps hide some of the body cues from the goalkeeper, forcing them to dive later or guess a side to dive.

Conclusion

Thank you for taking the time to read this post on how to score more penalty kicks in soccer.

Please share this post with players and coaches who would find this post helpful.

If you know any other tactics or strategies that have worked when taking penalty kicks in soccer please share them below in the comments

Thank you for reading,

Toby

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