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Penalty Success

You might ask how can a football player overcome the fear of taking a penalty when a cup decision is being decided. No doubt, the task is daunting for inexperienced players. But also, world stars like England’s David Beckham, or Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo, and even Brazil’s Kaká missed penalties in major cup finals.

When we consider Palmeiras Super Cup lose on Sunday 4th February, a crucial match which finished in a zero-zero draw, it makes us wonder how it must have felt to have all those supporters watching intensely. The pressure must have been sky high. Certainly, it is a different kind of stress to playing in matches. Then thinking what to do is based on momentary decision, whereby there is an automatic response to the current situation, and consequently the reaction is based on knowledge and experience, and intuition. Penalties of such magnitude create pressure which means stress, and of course fear. Some cope while others fall victim and go into a panicky frenzy!

Overcoming the fear of taking a penalty kick during a crucial cup decision can be challenging for any football player. However, here are some strategies that may help:

  1. Mental preparation: Develop a pre-kick routine to stay focused and calm. Visualize successful past penalties and imagine the perfect execution of your kick. This can help build confidence and reduce anxiety.

  2. Practice penalties regularly: Repetition and practice can help improve technique, precision, and confidence. By simulating game-like pressure situations in training, you can desensitize yourself to the fear of taking penalties and develop a familiarity with the process.

  3. Positive self-talk: Replace negative thoughts with positive affirmations. Remind yourself of your skills, previous successes, and the hard work you have put into your training. Encourage yourself to embrace the opportunity rather than fearing it.

  4. Seek support from teammates and coaches: Surround yourself with people who believe in you and can provide encouragement. Teammates and coaches can offer guidance, constructive feedback, and support, which can help alleviate anxiety and boost confidence.

  5. Focus on the process rather than the outcome: Instead of worrying about the potential outcome, redirect your attention to the technical aspects of taking a penalty. Focus on striking the ball correctly, selecting your target, and maintaining composure during the run-up. By concentrating on the process, you can reduce the impact of fear and increase your chances of success.

  6. Breathing techniques: Practice deep breathing exercises before and during the penalty kick. This can help calm your nerves, reduce stress, and center your focus on the task at hand.

Remember, overcoming the fear of taking a crucial penalty kick takes time and practice. It's essential to acknowledge your emotions, embrace the challenge, and continue working on building your mental strength.

Good Luck!

Prof. Carl Boniface


Vocabulary builder:

Wonder (n) = miracle, phenomenon, marvel, sensation. (idiom) makes us wonder = makes us think about (ponder over).

Frenzy (n) = fury, anger, turmoil, rage, fever, passion, agitation, state, emotion, (ant) calmness 

Desensitize (v) = numb, deaden, dull, soothe, pacify, lull, (ant) sensitize


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