Get Better on PKs

By Mike Smith

There is no higher pressure situation for a keeper to face than that of a PK. Some could argue a 1 v 1 breakaway where the attacker is coming in at speed is more challenging but I would argue since the keeper is not limited as far as movement during run of play 1 v 1 scenarios, the PK gets the edge. Obviously most coaches know this and thus, most teams and keepers practice PK s regularly, so the issue here is not “ are you practicing pks, “ but “ HOW are you practicing pks”? Here are two specific tricks which will vastly improve your keepers stop percentage AND your teams shooting percentage.

Many pk practices look like this, many of mine included. I usually work with groups of 5 shooters and two keepers as this best simulates a shoot out, with the keepers alternating shots. My remaining players run passing lines and do touch work until each shooting unit has done 3 progressions. Here is trick #1 : My shooters TELL the keeper which way they are going. Here is why: Many times, keepers do not learn how to react the right way because they spend too much timing guessing which way the kick is going. By telling them at practice, especially early in the season ( or pre season ) the keepers get a chance to commit to the proper form going to the left, right, high and low. It also helps with the shooters accuracy and how the shooter deals with pressure.

The second trick helps with moving to the ball with a slight forward angle and the most common pk fault, the keeper leaving the line early. With the same basic practice set up, make the keeper start INSIDE the goal.

As shown above, by starting the keeper inside the goal, just a couple feet or one step, yet still asking them to keep the ball in front of the line, it forces them to add a slight forward angle to their lunges and parries. This forward angle can be the difference in a ball being pushed out clear or tipped, spun and then going in. It also allows for any second chance attempts to be made before the ball actually crosses the line. The setup is the same as in the previous activity.

To make this a complete session, have each keeper face 7 consecutive pk attempts, from the line WITH OUT being told the direction. Be sure to include the keepers in the rotations of 7.

Coaching Points
The focus is on keeper form here and committing to a direction once they have tried to make a read ( guess )on the shooters intended shot. The coach should encourage the keeper to be as big as possible, use a slight forward move and aggressively parry shots away.

By Mike Smith
Currently the Head Coach for University Heights Academy Boys Soccer in Hopkinsville, KY , Mike is in his 14th year as a high school head coach with 23 years coaching experience overall  and 34 year as a student and fan of the game. He holds a USSF D License.

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