Score More Penalty Kicks In Soccer | Just Do This!

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 so you to use their strengths against them.

This is how you score more penalty kicks in soccer

To quickly summarise the post, the easiest way to score more penalty kicks in soccer is to:

  • Aim your penalty kicks into the central and upper areas of the goal
  • Use the inside of your foot to shoot the ball
  • Practice a slower kicking technique to help disguise where you are shooting your penalty
  • Point your non-kicking away from the direction you want to shoot your penalty

It is important to note that although these penalties will see higher success rate, they are also require more skill to consistently score.

Below, I go into the reasoning why because it’s not as straightforward as it seems.

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This is the best place to shoot your penalty kick in soccer

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.

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, if you hit the target you are most likely to score.

Below, are the studies that I used

Study 1 | Penalty placement
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.

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.

Study 2 | Penalty placement
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.

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 Placement

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
Penalty kicks and saves in the Premier League 2021/22 season

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.

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.

Most 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.

The best shooting technique to score more penalty kicks in soccer

From the information gathered, it is recommended that you use a placement shooting technique (inside of the foot) to score more penalty kicks goals in soccer.

This is because the power penalty is saved more frequently and considered less accurate.

Here are the studies I used to get this answer

Study 1 | 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

The study found that players who used the power technique were more likely to shoot the penalty in a central position of the goal.

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.

However, the placement penalty taker would spend a greater amount of time looking at the edges of the goal and the goal in general.

Study 2 | Power vs placement penalty kick
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 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.

Study 3 | Power vs placement penalty kick

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.

This is how you trick the goalkeeper and make them dive 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.

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.

You should also actively try 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.

This is what I found in the studies

Study 1 | Goalkeeper dive
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 in 44 high profile shoot-outs

The keeper will mostly likely dive to either left or right, with hardly any keepers staying in a central position.

This make shooting down the middle a great option to shoot a penalty

Study 2 | How to trick the goalkeeper

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 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.

The biggest clue for goalkeepers to anticipate where to dive for a penalty kick

So 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
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.

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.

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

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.

Final Thoughts

Scoring a penalty in soccer seems a lot easier than people think!

The pressure of the penalty kicks also play a huge role in execution of them too.

The higher the stakes, the higher the nerves, causing a player to miss.

However, if you practice and work on the tips outlined in the post you should start scoring more penalty kicks in soccer.

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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References

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

Statistical insight into shootouts – where to place your penalty!

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

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

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

Anticipation and visual search behavior in expert soccer goalkeepers

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

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