Let’s face it – penalties are difficult to stop at the best of times but have you ever wondered how much chance you really have of saving a penalty? Or, do you go into a penalty scenario with a defeatist attitude? Is there a negative mindset even before the ball is placed on the penalty spot? Sure, it’s a difficult moment in the game where you and you alone can influence the outcome of a match but really – is the pressure on the GK? To a certain extent – yes, but there’s definitely more pressure on the player taking the penalty than there is on you. After all, he is expected to score, right?
I believe there is roughly a 35:65 chance of the GK making a save (no scientific research applied here to obtain this ratio) if the general EGK philosophy is adhered to when attempting to save a spot kick. What is the secret? Go hard, go low and go early (but go as late as possible). The majority of penalties (and there are exceptions to every rule) are hit low and to one side so if you pick the correct side, and you give it your all when you push low to that side, you stand a good chance of of at least getting some contact on the ball.
The trick is to pick the correct side (more on this in a later post) and also to know when to make your move (this is probably the most important point). By moving early you ’sell’ yourself making it easier for the taker to decide where to slot it. By standing your ground and ’staying up’ till the last possible moment, the GK puts the onus back on the penalty taker. Having seen no cues from the GK, the taker has to decide for himself which way he should go. Don’t make it any easier for him!