Study the opposition
More after the break
Before every game I watch videos of the opposition’s best three or four penalty takers. I’m looking for habits – do you they go for power or placement? Do they finish high or low? You always find that every player has a stronger side. If you do your homework and combine it with the intuition you have as a goalkeeper, you give yourself a far better chance of saving the penalty.
Sharpen your reactions
You need to hone your craft every single day. In training most of my work as a goalkeeper is on technique and reactions. I practise different scenarios repeatedly so that I’m familiar with saving shots from various angles. It’s the same for penalties - if you face different types of spot-kicks in training you’ll be prepared for anything an opponent tries in a match. Don’t get caught out when it matters most - make sure you’re prepared for any eventuality.
I always stay in the centre of my goal as the penalty taker makes his run up. If you lean to one side you help the taker make up their mind. If you stay in the middle you create doubt in their head. However, you need to dive just before they shoot. If you wait until they strike the ball you’ll have no chance of saving it.
Push the ball clear
This is one of the most difficult parts of saving a penalty. Most of the time you’re just trying to make contact with the ball – which means sometimes you end up parrying the ball back into the penalty area, giving the opposition another chance to score. If you can, palm the ball out of the 18-yard box, wide of goal or over the crossbar.
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Adrian was speaking on behalf of West Ham United official principal sponsor Betway’s Academy of Football project. Follow the series at #BetwayAcademy and blog.betway.com.