How to save a penalty

How to save a penalty

Saving a penalty in football can be extremely challenging, but goalkeepers often use a combination of technique, psychology, and anticipation to increase their chances of making a save. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to save a penalty:


  • Mental Focus: Stay calm and focused. Clear your mind and concentrate on the upcoming penalty kick. 
  • Research: is also good If possible, gather information about the opposing player's penalty-taking tendencies. Some players have preferred sides or patterns. An excellent example of this is goalkeeper Jordan Pickford, he did research before the game and had his research printed on his water bottle.  



  • Center of the Goal: Stand in the centre of the goal line. This makes it more difficult for the penalty taker to find an open side.  
  • Weight on Toes: Keep your weight on the balls of your feet, ready to move quickly in any direction. 

As you can see on the above Ben Foster, keeps centrally in the net while being on his toes to anticipate the shot.  

Reading the Shooter: 

  • Body Language: Observe the penalty taker's body language for any clues about the direction of the shot. 
  • Foot Placement: Watch the position of the shooter's standing foot; it may indicate the intended direction. 

    Psychological Tactics: 

    • Eye Contact: Make eye contact with the penalty taker. Some goalkeepers try to intimidate by maintaining a strong and confident presence. You want to make sure you still keep the level of respect with your opponents but making eye contact is fine to peruse when they are taking a penalty; it can create added nerves.  
    • Delay Tactics: Take your time to get into the goal and set yourself. Delaying the penalty taker can increase pressure. This is a commonly used tactic but can be yellow card if the time wasting persists.  

     Distract with Movement: 

    • Shuffle on the Goal Line: Slightly shuffle left and right on the goal line to make yourself a moving target, potentially distracting the penalty taker. 
    • Jumping Jacks or Quick Steps: Some goalkeepers use unusual movements before the kick to distract the shooter.


     Physical Technique: 

    • Stay on Your Feet: Try to stay on your feet for as long as possible. Diving too early can make it easier for the penalty taker to choose an open side. 
    • Quick Reactions: When you decide to dive, make a quick and decisive move. 
    Position of the Hands: 
    • Mid-Height: Keep your hands around mid-height, ready to react to shots to either side. 
    • Diving Angle: Angle your body slightly to cover more of the goal. This can reduce the distance you need to cover to make a save.

    • Instinct and Experience: Anticipate the direction of the shot based on your instincts and experience. Be ready to react even if the shot goes in an unexpected direction. 
    Post-Save Behavior: 
    • Recovery: After making a save, quickly recover to your feet in case there is a rebound. 
    • Celebration or Refocus: Depending on the situation, you might celebrate a save, or quickly refocus for the next play. Refocusing on the next penalty is what you should do if you are involved in a penalty shootout or there is a chance of a rebound. Celebration should only be for when you have won the game from a decisive penalty. The Video below you may recognise, Almunia makes a double save, and Watford goes on to score the winner. This wouldn't happen if the keeper weren't focused for the second shot!

    Remember that saving penalties is not only about technique but also about psychology and reading the opponent. It's a combination of skill, strategy, and a bit of luck. Goalkeepers often improve with experience and by facing different penalty takers over time.