The Art of Saving a Penalty

By Josh Jones-Keen –

Often teams practice penalties but the focus is always on trying to score them. Outfield players can practice penalties to the hilt but nothing can replicate the pressure of doing it in a real game.


As for the Keeper there is no pressure. Not in training and not in a game. If you’ve got to penalties your Keeper has already done their job of not conceding in actual time. Now is the time to do the right thing and hope you get some luck on the way.  This is the mentality that must be coached for majority of Keepers. Keep the pressure off so they don’t freeze.

The first drill works on the Keepers saving technique. The coach starts by pointing to a corner and then tossing the ball to that corner. This can progress to the coach drop volleying to add more power and precision to the ball.  To then progress the coach could point to one corner and play the ball in the other corner. Can the Keeper keep calm and remember it’s going the other way, and then the Coach should play the ball either side without pointing. Can the Keeper now judge the body shape of striker and work out the right way?

Distance is the key here; I often start 8/10 yards away and make it harder and faster the closer to the goal, to within 5 yards. Then start working back out to I’m striking them on the drop volley around the penalty spot.

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Here the Keeper starts on the other side of the Goal and the Coach strikes the ball in to the centre of the goal. The Keeper must dive across the goal to make the save. The main key point here is the dive.

To get the perfect takeoff the Keeper must propel them with the correct leg. With the Keeper facing the striker their inside leg facing towards goal must be used to push off. If the outside leg is used this is what creates Keepers rotating. In a game this is bad news as it means they cannot react to the next shot but in this case it could cost precious fractions of seconds which could be the difference to winning and losing.

Coaching Points

  • Watch and judge the run up, you can tell a lot about where the ball is going based on the strikers run
  • Make your decision as late as possible. React quickly.
  • Dive well; know how quick you can cover ground. Push off with the inside leg
  • Go two handed, move them quickly if needed
  • Use the momentum of your arms pushing through to push the ball wide

By Josh Jones-Keen – Josh has been coaching Goalkeepers for over a decade & has both Outfield and Goalkeeper coaching awards from England and Scotland. He’s coached at a number of levels from grassroots to semipro and currently coaches non league Women’s team as well as a local academy.

About the Author Tom Mura

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