I used to love facing penalties when I was a goalie. All the pressure is on the striker! Heís supposed to score Ė so you can only be a hero!

In the proís the ball is pretty much always going into the corner, and usually fairly hard. So goalies need to guess early and launch themselves, hoping they have guessed right. But in youth soccer, most PK takers are not that good, so you have other options:

         Option A. Just react. If you are bouncing on your toes, ready to react you have an excellent chance of reaching all but the very best placed shots. Anything in the middle, and even within reach of the middle, is savable.

         Option B. Make an educated guess. There are several clues:

o        Watch the hips. Most youth PK takers are not that good at concealing where itís going. For a right footed kicker to place the ball into the right side of the goal, he has to open his hips quite a long way. From that position, itís hard to close them again to change corners without missing altogether. If the hips are open, heís probably going right (from the kickerís perspective).

o        Watch the run up. If he takes a straight run up, itís almost certain to go left, even if thatís not what he wants. So if the takerís run up is straighter than 45 degrees, heís probably going left.

         Option A + B. You may decide that you will watch the hips and run-up and make a guess if you get a good read. If not, you go with Option A and just react to the shot.

         Option C. Make them think. Sometimes, you know you have a good PK taker against you. Maybe they are really really good. The thing to do is to disrupt their normal pattern. I like to stand a foot or two off-center: now the taker has to decide whether to go to the side with more open space Ė which is where he assumes I am going to dive Ė or the narrow side Ė which he assumes may be open. At  a minimum, heís now thinking about where to put it, rather than simply following his routine. I then adopt Option A+B, with the idea that most likely I will just react.