Stroke It In
Score from the penalty spot with Eleazar RodgersBafana Bafana and Santos striker
‘It is a big mental game, trying to outsmart the goalkeeper and knowing that the pressure is on you and not him’‘I also try and think about the keeper and what I know about him. Some keepers always dive left or right, and with some it is a lottery.’‘I start by trying to clear my mind and take a few deep breaths, get the heart rate somewhere close to normal and just relax.
You have to be calm. Get too excited and you will be hesitant in striking the ball, or go for too much power and lose control.’‘I prefer to keep my penalties low, rather than a for the top corner.
This obviously gives the keeper more of a chance because you are placing it within his reach if he dives the right way, but going high is risky business.The margins for error are so small if you are aiming for the top corner then you can very easily miss by going too high.’‘By the time I have placed the ball on the penalty spot, I know where I am aiming for; I have picked my side.
Whether I am going left or right I always try to hit the side-netting and focus only on trying to hit that spot. I know that if the keeper guesses right then he might reach it, but this is a method that has worked for me a lot. I try to concentrate on getting a good connection on the ball, not kicking it too hard because then you lose that control.’‘I know I will get good pace on the ball if I just get the right connection.
It’s like a good golf shot. Don’t try and blast the ball – precision is the key.’‘I was never a willing penalty-taker earlier in my career because there can be quite a bit of fear for a young guy. But as I have got older and more experienced, I have much more confidence in my own ability.
Being a regular penalty-taker can boost your goal tally and I am now the first in the side to put my hand up. It’s a big mental game, trying to outsmart the goalkeeper and knowing that the pressure is on you and not him. He has nothing to lose – if he saves it he is a hero; if not, nobody is going to blame him.’
‘The only way you can get used to taking penalties is by stepping up in a game. However, you can still practise your spot kicks during training.’‘Make sure you spend time with your team’s keepers hitting penalties. Even though you can’t recreate the on-field pressure, you can get used to what it feels like standing in front of goal.’‘It can be a nerve-racking experience, so the more you practise, the more you will relax.’