You have been given the task of taking a penalty, but the big question is how to take a penalty? Have you ever thought about if you can you find some tricks to get inside the goalkeepers head?

Taking a penalty is said to be one of the most stressful situations in football.

penalty in soccer

Will you score and celebrate the goal or will you miss and wonder how did you manage to do  that?

My strategy lies not in the taking of the pen but in an alternative way of trying to get inside the keepers head so you are in charge of the situation

The edge is now with you and not the goalkeeper.

Use your head, think and try these small tips to win the mind games.


First impressions count in everything, especially when stepping up to take a spot kick.

By walking with confidence I mean use your body language to control the situation.

As you now know you will be given the task of taking the penalty. On the inside you may be as nervous as never before, but on the outside show the keeper nothing.

As soon as the refs whistle blows and you are given the spot kick. It’s time for you to switch on and do these things automatically, this will only come to you with practice.

Put your shoulders back and straight, and lift your head, hold it high.

Then make your smile as wide as you have ever made it.

Say to yourself ” I must walk around full of positive energy and with total confidence”.

Make everyone look at you and say “he has got this, he is in control” and will score.

Have you ever watched a penalty shoot out in a match and before the player taking the spot kick even gets to the penalty spot, you say ” he doesn’t look confident I bet he misses”,

You know this because you have seen his body language and it’s that of a player who looks beaten before he starts.

In your head, pick your spot where you are going to hit it, and be confident that’s what you will do.

When the keeper looks at who is taking the penalty, he will see a player full of belief, who looks really confident.

He will then be thinking “he looks like he knows what he is doing”.



Be ready and aware that the goalkeeper will do everything in his power to stop you from scoring.

It is easier for you to score, and the goalkeeper knows this. Therefore the number one will try by whatever means to put you off.

Go and watch some clips of old penalty shoot-outs, and observe what they do.

They will come off their line stand right in front of you. I have seen them walk up to the penalty spot and move the ball, or hold it for a few seconds.

They will complain to the referee that the ball  is not in the right spot. Watch out for those keepers who always try to slow the game down.

If it takes longer and you have to think more, there is more chance you will miss, and that is what they are counting on.

When they do go back on their line they jump about, use the jelly legs method, and so on, to try to put you off and change your mind where you are going to place your shot from the spot kick.

Now that we know this, what can you do to get the upper hand?

My method is, be the one playing the mind games. Throw him off his game. Get the keeper thinking what is the penalty taker doing?

The ball is on the spot. Walk towards the ball with confidence but don’t pick it up. Walk right past the ball and the keeper who has probably come forward to greet you. Go and stand on the goal line, then turn around and look back at all the players. Stand there for a few seconds.

Don’t do this for too long you wouldn’t want to annoy the referee.

When you go back to the penalty spot.  Wait for the keeper to be ready, then you kneel down on one knee and adjust your sock, pretend to tie a boot lace whatever, just make the keeper wait a few more seconds.

You are now saying to him “I am in charge ”

If I was watching you do this or something similar I would be thinking, he will definitely score a goal.



This is done at practice at training, and not last minute when you are in a game and stepping up to take the penalty.

If you have your spot picked out and you have practiced scoring, over and over again. Then when it comes to the game and the spot kick is awarded you will have confidence as you know where the ball is going.

Then you can straight away work on getting your body language right and playing mind games with the keeper.

Practice this:

Pick 4 spots within the goal to hit.

Top left, top right, bottom left and bottom right.

Set up these targets on a wall or fence at home, with a blank post it note.

The drill is to hit the post it note every time in each of the 4 spots.

It takes practice but it can be done.

Knowing you have picked your spot and can hit it, will give you a huge confidence boost.



taking a penalty









This is the best feeling ever. Especially when learning how to take a penalty.

Always take a run up when taking a penalty. You have forward momentum.

Never stand next to the ball and try to be clever, unless you are Neymar or Ronaldo etc..

Before you set of running towards the ball.  Look at the goal one more time, pick your spot that you have practiced many times. Look down at the ball. Start your run up.

Keep your eye on the ball at all times.

Use the front of your foot to strike the ball. This will give you more power.

Go for as much power as possible.  Make sure after you strike the ball you let your striking leg follow through.   Don’t just stop the motion as soon as you hit the ball.

The follow through keeps the pace on the ball and prevents you from pulling a muscle in your leg.


That’s the name of the game when you are the penalty taker – hit the back of the net every time.

Use your body language in a very positive way, confidence is everything.

Take control of the situation be the first to play the mind games with the opposition goalkeeper.

Strike the ball clean and with loads of power.

Watch it hit the back of the net.  Then you celebrate.

I would love to hear from you, so please leave me any comments below or feedback on this topic .

Yours football madly




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Idara · 15/04/2019 at 11:00 am

Great post. Penalties are the highest test of the mind strength, confidence and ability of a player. All the steps elabourated can only work well if the player has practised uncountable times to the point where the mind games actually become more than a mind game but a reality, you are sure you have beaten the keeper before you are even called to play the kick.

    Matthew Hofman · 15/04/2019 at 11:27 am

    Hello Idara thanks for the kind message. It’s always fun to see a penalty in a game and seeing what happens next, will they or won’t they score. The tension and all the antics that go with it. I love it. 

    Take care and best wishes 

Stratos K · 15/04/2019 at 11:00 am

Nice read. From the outside taking on a penalty kick can look very easy but I can imagine how both the kicker and the keeper must be feeling that moment when adrenaline is hitting the reds. Penalty kicks is actually being worked during training and thats why all teams have specific players that handle them when their team wins them. Thank you for sharing.

    Matthew Hofman · 15/04/2019 at 11:35 am

    Hi Stratos. Cheers for messaging me. Yes all teams should take the time to practice penalties. That said when it comes to a match situation logic seems to go out the window, ant the fun and games begins. Glad you enjoyed the read. 

    Take care and warm wishes to you. 

darrickramos · 15/04/2019 at 10:59 am

As a football player(unprofessional), I find this piece very useful. Ive watched the likes of Ballotelli, hazard and Neymar score a lot of penalties under pressure and I found myself asking why or how. I didn’t realise a lot goes into the building of a technique. I found the walking past the keeper to the post funny… Though, it maybe worthy but some referees are no-nonsense type.

Dropping shoulder is my tested way of playing penalties and ive a very woeful conversion rate. I’ve gained well from this post and I’ll show more confidence against other penalties

    Matthew Hofman · 15/04/2019 at 11:42 am

    Hi Darrick. Great message from you so thank you for that. I thought I would look at things from a different poit of view to see if I could put the penalty taker in charge and not the goalkeeper. 

    Glad you enjoyed it and good luck next time you take a penalty. 

    Best wishes to you my friend 

Queen · 15/04/2019 at 10:58 am

I used to think scoring at penalty kicks is always a game of luck, like.. You can’t really do anything specific to get that goal in there.

But this article has definitely opened my eye to a whole lot that I don’t know.

hhmm… Will have my son go through this post and learn how to improve on his capabilities.


    Matthew Hofman · 15/04/2019 at 11:49 am

    Hi queen. The main thing for you son to do is to show confidence when stepping up to take the penalty.

    Even if he misses a few times never let that stop him from trying again. He will soon be an expert penalty taker. 

    Best wishes to you 

    Thank you for the message. Very kind of you. 

Juliet · 15/04/2019 at 10:58 am

Thanks Mattew, when watching football with my son, I know he never wants his favourite team to go to penalties. There’s so much tension around that time, even for us watching. wow! I never knew so much goes into kicking a penalty. Confidence is the key and having a goal. I’ll let my son know about your site. 

    Matthew Hofman · 15/04/2019 at 12:01 pm

    Hi Juliet. That’s very kind of you. Let your son know it’s not only himself that get nervous when watching a penalty shootout, it happens to all of us. Glad I could help you with some useful tips on how to take a penalty. 

    Good luck to you 

Sammynathaniels · 15/04/2019 at 10:57 am


These tips remind me when I was so passionate about football some years ago. As at then, I’ll spend hours during week days to play football and 70% of my time on weekends. These tips were one of those things I usually do and also advise other to do to ensure that a penalty is converted to a goal.



    Matthew Hofman · 15/04/2019 at 12:17 pm

    Hi Sammy. That sounds like fun playing soccer all weekends. That pretty much sums up my childhood, now I just talk about the beautiful game:)

    It is always fun to see a player step up and take a penalty, wondering will they or won’t they score?

    Take care 

    Best wishes my friend. 

Peace · 15/04/2019 at 10:56 am

Hi Matthew, I love football and one of my favorite moments in watching a football match is when a penalty is about to be taken. I am most excited when the team I am supporting nets the goal successfully. 

I have always believed that footballers that are good in taking penalties are those that know how to enter into the goalkeeper’s head. Your tips are spot on, on how to get into the goalkeeper’s head and make a goal. 

    Matthew Hofman · 15/04/2019 at 12:23 pm

    Hi Peace. That is very kind of you  I am pleased you found some useful tips and enjoyed reading this article. 

    Anytime you can gain an advantage you should try and take it, as long as it’s fair and sporting. 

    Good luck to you. 

Whitedove1 · 15/04/2019 at 10:54 am

Thanks for writing out this lovely article and I must say its a must for every soccer player to read and digest. Passion,focus  and determination will also assist a player in kicking the ball to goal. Your tips are really encouraging in this article. I wouldn’t hesitate to share this article among my soccer lover. Best regards 

    Matthew Hofman · 15/04/2019 at 12:31 pm

    Hi whitedove. Thank you for sharing this article. That’s very kind of you. 

    It’s great that you found some use in the tips I gave.

    As the penalty taker it’s time to put yourself first and gain an advantage over the goalkeeper. 

    Best wishes to you 

    Take care. 

AV2001 · 15/04/2019 at 10:52 am

Hey Matthew,

I’ve really enjoyed reading this article as you’ve provided us with lots of useful information. I never across such a trick shot before, I’m really excited to try it when I play football with my friends sometime later. I’ve seen it on TV a couple of times, but never had the opportunity to use that move. It felt easy after you explained it. I’ll share this with my friends and see what they think.

Thank you for taking your time in writing this detailed blog post. Keep up the good work Matthew!

    Matthew Hofman · 15/04/2019 at 12:34 pm

    Hi. What a great message from you. Thank you for that. 

    Nice work sharing this article with your friends. 

    Glad I could give you a new way of looking at how to take a penalty. 

    Good luck to you my friend. 

Dave · 24/08/2018 at 8:48 pm

GREAT post! As a fellow coach of youth soccer I find this information very useful. One point about the kick itself, is the player gives off cues on where they’re going to shoot – If you’re right footed, you naturally target the keeper’s right side; left foot naturally targets the left side. I like how you mention finding 4 spots on the ball to target, as you can CHANGE what sides you naturally target.

Also, dropping your shoulders is a give away on which side you plan to target – if a player can target the opposite site and yet drop their shoulder as if they’re targeting as per normal, it pulls the keeper out of position and you can usually score.

As you said – these are things you need to PRACTICE, not try during a game unless you’ve practiced.

Kris · 24/08/2018 at 8:29 pm

What a detailed and entertaining article you have in here for sure! Helps aspiring players! I will refer my brother and nephew to subscribe to your website!

    admin · 24/08/2018 at 8:39 pm

    Hi thank you for the comment. Glad you enjoyed the information. I look forward to seeing you on the website again.

Felix · 24/08/2018 at 7:13 pm

Very interesting article that shows the importance of mental control in sports. I strongly believe the top 1% players are just better mentally. With penalty you clearly showed that it’s a question of who wins the mind game. The goalie or the striker? Brilliant.

    admin · 24/08/2018 at 8:40 pm

    Hi thank you for the comment. Glad you enjoyed the information. I look forward to seeing you on the website again.

Aj · 24/08/2018 at 7:12 pm

This was incredible to read!! I didn’t even think there was a methodology to this. Very well written and explained, thanks for all the info

    admin · 24/08/2018 at 8:40 pm

    Hi thank you for the comment. Glad you enjoyed the information. I look forward to seeing you on the website again.

Russell · 24/08/2018 at 6:01 pm


I am very new to soccer and am looking for ways to improve.
I didn’t realize penalty kicks was something I had to focus on outside of practice. I definitely will try this next time shoot with my friends,

    admin · 24/08/2018 at 8:41 pm

    Hi thank you for the comment. Glad you enjoyed the information. I look forward to seeing you on the website again.

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