6 Coaching Tips for Selecting Kick-Takers for Penalty Shootouts
At some point in the season, be it in regional tournament play, or a bigger state cup competition, your team is likely to be staring down the barrel of a dramatic penalty shootout where everything is on the line.
These high drama moments are a bit of a crapshoot, and typically disappointing for both coaches when neither team can find a winner in regulation, but shootouts are a part of the game and need to be well-thought out if you want to enjoy success.
Here are 6 ideas for selecting kick-takers for a penalty shootout.
1.First Kick is Critical
The first kick of a penalty shootout might be just as important, in not more so, than the last one your team will take.
The first player to step up to the spot sets the tone, for both teams, either equalizing the score, or helping your team go ahead, so be sure to choose a player that you have tremendous confidence in to go first and get things off to a positive start.
2. Keep it Simple
Proper penalty kick-taking doesn't require an elaborate run up, intricate deception, or a player that can wallop the hardest, net-bulging shot on your team.
So with that in mind, make sure to select players that have the game intelligence to artfully pass the ball into one of the corners and into the back of the net.
3. Chose Mental Toughness
The pressure of taking a kick during a shootout is immense, you can cut the atmosphere with knife, and you've got to select players that have the mental toughness to properly execute.
Make sure you pick payers that will be alive and hungry for the moment, ready to step up and take on the responsibility for their teammates.
4. Keep it Light
When the intensity of extra-time comes to a conclusion, players are going to be exhausted, frustrated, excited, nervous, maybe all of these things at once.
It's critical that you keep your squad focused, but also inject some levity into the situation and remind your kick-takers and entire team to try and enjoy the moment, no matter how stressful it might be.
5. Believe in The Players
The players you select to take penalties in a shootout represent the entire team, coaching staff, managers, their families, everybod.
So before your players take the long walk to the spot, make sure to let them know you believe in their abilities with complete and utter conviction.
6. Last Kick Character
Selecting the last kick-taker of a shootout is always a challenge for any coach, you want to pick a player with poise, ability, character, but also probably selected some of those players earlier in the shootout, or are reluctant to let your best kick-taker go last in case it doesn't get that far.
Consider bookending two of your most qualified kick-takers, with the first and the last kick of the game, because these are the players that must have big character to rise to the occasion and help lift the team to victory.