A penalty kick in soccer is an offensive player’s dream. Soccer players are expected to score from 12 yards and when they fail, they're often heavily criticized. Usually, if the goalkeeper pulls off a save, the kick will be chalked up as a failure for the penalty kick-taker rather than a success for the goalkeeper. The best professional soccer players have techniques to avoid such humiliation and will convert their penalty kicks into goals almost every time.
Techniques range from power and finesse to straight-up trickery. No matter what the kicker fancies, it's incredibly important for a team to have a confident penalty taker. In most situations, the penalty kick is the player's to miss and if it's taken well enough, the goalie will stand no chance. An intelligent, well-taking kicker can inspire and calm a nervy team. There's no better feeling than knowing your kicker is nearly guaranteed to put in the penalty from the spot. Whatever you do chose, put in the practice and watch your role on the team skyrocket. CoachUp has put together a few things you can learn from some of the top soccer penalty kick takers in the world, check them out and get on the field!
![Penalty Kick 3](http://images.complex.com/complex/image/upload/t_in_content_image/e3wdb98ul93kwqrpk66k.gif)
Mario Balotelli’s 90+ penalty conversion rate is no accident. He is the king of mind-games from the penalty spot. Many soccer players take the approach of picking a spot and sticking to it. Balotelli effortlessly adopts a more difficult strategy by using a stutter-step in his run up to the ball -- often, this makes the goalkeeper reveal which way he is diving. Then, he aims for the open corner and slots it in. While risky, the stutter-step can be an effective tool. If you decide to use a stutter-step, make sure to not come to a complete stop, as that is against the rules.
![Penalty Kick 2](https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/--1gdlJnHNiM/UnlUuLGUB7I/AAAAAAAAAto/4yKXajf92iQ/w500-h279-no/pen.gif)
Eden Hazard’s penalty kick style is both more common and easily emulated. His strategy is employed by many of the most successful soccer penalty kick takers in the world. He picks a spot and strides confidently towards the goal with that spot in his mind. He rarely misses his chances because he is focused on his target. If you pick your spot and hit it perfectly, it will be hard for a goalkeeper to save. This is the most foolproof way to convert a penalty and Hazard’s record proves that.
![Penalty Kick 1](https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-_cj5IvloHtY/UtrLF2hEy8I/AAAAAAAABXw/maQuZ3PIu1U/s0/18-01-2014-GifNumber-83.gif)
Alan Shearer had, perhaps, the most daring penalty kick technique out of anyone. His strategy was to step up and smash the ball as hard as he could -- ultimately, this technique paid off for him, as he is credited as one of the greatest penalty kick takers of all time. While added velocity makes a shot harder for the goalkeeper to save, you also run the risk of missing the goal entirely with a wild shot. Make sure to practice striking the ball in the center if you opt for Shearer’s strategy.
*(Related: Read about saving penalty kicks [here.](https://www.coachup.com/resources/soccer/saving-penalty-kicks-tips-for-any-so))*
Versatility is an important component for professional soccer players when taking penalty kicks. This is because professional soccer goalkeepers are able to study where their opponents are likely to aim. However, as a youth soccer player, you will benefit from perfecting one type of penalty kick before trying other strategies. If you're still struggling with your penalty kicks, consider hiring one of CoachUp's private trainers to help you out. They'll help you develop your own technique, strategy, and flair which are all important factors towards creating an unstoppable penalty. What are you waiting for?
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