‍Soccer Penalty Kicks

Soccer penalty kicks can be the most nerve-wracking and intense moments in a game or tournament. The weight of the outcome often rests on the shoulders of one player, and the stakes can be incredibly high. From the history of penalty kicks to the strategies and rules governing them, this comprehensive guide will delve into all aspects of this exciting aspect of the beautiful game.

The History of Penalty Kicks

Penalty kicks have been a part of soccer since 1891, when the Irish Football Association introduced the concept to the International Football Association Board. The idea was to award a penalty kick for foul play committed within 11 meters (12 yards) of the goal line. At that time, the 18-yard box did not exist, and the penalty could be taken from any point along the width of the pitch on the 11-meter line.

The penalty shootout format, however, was only adopted in 1970 and made its World Cup debut in the 1982 semi-final between West Germany and France. Since then, penalty shootouts have become a thrilling and often heartbreaking way to decide knockout stage matches in major tournaments.

What is a Penalty Kick?

A penalty kick is a direct free kick taken from a spot 11 meters (12 yards) in front of the center of the goal. During a match, penalty kicks are awarded to an attacking team for a foul committed against them in the 18-yard box, or “penalty area” – a marked region of the pitch extending 16.5 meters (18 yards) out from each goalpost and 16.5 meters in depth.

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Imagem de William Pomares por Pixabay

When is a Penalty Awarded?

A penalty kick is awarded for various offenses committed by a defending team within their own penalty area, such as:

  • Deliberately touching the ball with a hand or arm (other than the goalkeeper)
  • Careless, reckless, or excessive use of force to charge, jump, kick, challenge, push, strike, or kick an attacking player
  • Holding an opponent
  • Spitting at or biting an opponent or official
  • Throwing something at the ball, opponent, or official, or hitting an object with the ball

The Penalty Kick Procedure

When a penalty kick is awarded, the following steps are taken:

  1. The ball is placed on the penalty spot, regardless of where the foul occurred.
  2. The penalty taker is identified to the referee.
  3. All players other than the kicker and the goalkeeper must leave the penalty area, standing behind the spot and a minimum of 9.15 meters (10 yards) from the spot. During penalty shootouts, all players remain in the central circle in the middle of the pitch.
  4. The goalkeeper may move before the ball is kicked but must stay on the goal line, facing the kicker, without touching the goalposts, crossbar, or net.
  5. The referee blows a whistle to announce the kick should be taken.
  6. Once the kicker reaches the ball, their last step and kick must be in one fluid motion.
  7. When the kick is taken, the goalkeeper must be touching the goal line.

Penalty Kick Rules

During a penalty kick, several rules must be followed:

  • The ball must be stationary on the spot before the kick
  • The ball must travel forward
  • Other players must not enter the penalty area until the ball has been kicked
  • The kicker must not kick the ball a second time unless it has been touched by another player
  • Only the player identified to the referee may take the penalty kick
  • The kicker must not feint at the end of their run-up

Consequences of Breaking Penalty Kick Rules

If any penalty kick rules are broken, the appropriate sanctions, as per the FA guidelines, will be applied. These may include retaking the kick, awarding a goal, or disallowing the kick altogether.

Penalty Shootouts

Penalty shootouts are used to determine the winner of a match that has ended in a draw after extra time. In knockout stages of tournaments, if the scores remain even after 90 minutes of play and an additional 30 minutes of extra time, a penalty shootout is held.

Each team selects five players to take turns kicking from the penalty spot. The team with the most goals after five rounds wins the match. If the scores are still level, the shootout continues in a sudden-death format until one team emerges as the winner.

Penalty Kick Strategies

There are various strategies that players can employ when taking penalty kicks, such as:

  • Power: Striking the ball with maximum force, aiming for the corners of the goal
  • Placement: Accurately placing the ball into a specific area of the goal, usually away from the goalkeeper’s reach
  • Panenka: A cheeky, slow-moving chip shot aimed down the center of the goal, hoping to catch the goalkeeper off-guard

Goalkeepers also have strategies for saving penalty kicks, such as watching the kicker’s body language or eyes, guessing the direction of the shot, or trying to intimidate the kicker with their presence.

Penalty Kick Practice and Games

To improve your penalty kick skills, practicing with various methods is essential. Online and offline games, such as Penalty Kick Online, can provide a fun way to practice and improve your accuracy, power, and decision-making during penalty kicks. Additionally, practicing with teammates or friends can help build confidence and improve your ability to perform under pressure.

The Psychology of Penalty Kicks

The mental aspect of penalty kicks cannot be understated. The pressure of a single kick potentially deciding the outcome of a match can be overwhelming for some players. Developing mental strength, confidence, and the ability to remain calm under pressure is crucial for successful penalty-taking.

In conclusion, penalty kicks are an integral part of soccer, providing some of the most memorable and dramatic moments in the sport. Understanding the history, rules, strategies, and psychological aspects of penalty kicks can help players and fans alike appreciate and enjoy these high-stakes moments even more.



As a soccer coach and graduate in Physical Education, I bring a wealth of expertise to the field. My coaching philosophy combines technical precision with a passion for player well-being. With a commitment to fostering both skill and sportsmanship, I aim to empower athletes, nurturing their growth not only as players but as individuals on the journey to success.


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