Can you fake a penalty kick in soccer?

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If you’re new to soccer or have yet to learn all the ins and outs of the popular sport, you may be curious as to whether or not a player can fake a penalty kick during the game. You’ve probably noticed players, just before striking a penalty kick, pretend to move around a ton to try to trick the goalie, but is faking a penalty kick allowed?

Just before a penalty kick, the kicker can make feinting motions to deceive the goalie, but the last step must be followed through with a kick shot to the goal. While some forms of deception are allowed, others can constitute misconduct, such as deliberately waving one’s arms to distract the goalie.

To learn more about what the penalty kick entails and penalties for faking a penalty kick, continue reading!

Faking a penalty kick: is it allowed?

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A penalty kick (which is done to penalize the defending team) is a straight shot from the penalty mark to the goal that can only be defended by the goalkeeper only. The goalkeeper must try to predict where the kicker is going to kick the ball and be prepared ahead of time to dive or defend the goal because the ball is so close to the goal. In order to confuse the goalkeeper and give them less time to react, the penalty kicker will often feint movements, moving side to side or front and backward toward and away from the ball. This makes it more difficult for the goalkeeper to figure out where the ball is actually going to strike the goal. These feinting actions are allowed, so long as the movements are made with the whole body, and not with the arms or with fake kicks. Pretending to kick is not allowed, but feinting and moving around, so long as the kicker stays behind the ball, is okay.

How often do penalty kicks happen?

A soccer game can go an entire full 90 minutes of play without a penalty kick being issued. This is if ever neither team commits any fouls or does some offense to warrant a penalty kick. Players on the offensive team of the penalty kick can greatly benefit from this, as it allows them a quick and easy chance to strike a goal. Reasons why a team may be issued a penalty kick include:

  • Handling the ball
  • Charging, jumping at, kicking (or attempting to kick) pushing, striking (or attempting to strike), tackling, challenging, tripping (or attempting to trip) an opponent
  • Holding onto an opponent
  • Impeding an opponent’s motion with contact
  • Biting or spitting at someone
  • Throwing any object at the ball, opponent, or match official
  • When a player outside the field enters without permission from the referee or throws something onto the field

How kickers can distract during a penalty kick

Kickers can distract the goalkeeper by moving forward and backward, side to side, and diagonally at different speeds behind the ball. The ball has to stay completely stationary before the kick, and the kick can only be kicked forward and toward the goal. Once the ball is kicked, other players can move into the penalty area and penalty arc, but the kicker is not allowed to kick or pass the ball a second time until it has been in contact with another player or it goes into the goal or somewhere else out of play.

What you can’t do during a penalty kick

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During a penalty kick, there are some things that you aren’t allowed to do, which can constitute misconduct and will result in either a red or yellow card to the kicker, and/or a rekick will need to be taken. A referee will pay attention to the kick from a close distance to ensure that none of these things are done during the penalty kick, and players should keep in mind that not all feinting actions are a violation of soccer rules, especially if they are the one defending against a penalty kick.

Some things that constitute as a misconduct in soccer during a penalty kick include the kicker taking too long to kick and then continuing to delay after the referee signals them to kick. Penalties take up extra time on the clock and referees want that extra time to be as little as possible.

If the kicker runs the past the ball when approaching it, then backs up to actually take the kick, this is also considered a misconduct. Kickers should commit to the kick while approaching the ball and follow through with the kick, striking their ball after their last step before the ball.

Any motion with the hand or arm that is done with the intent to distract the goalkeeper is also considered a misconduct. The goalkeeper should be able to keep their eyes on your feet and the ball, and deliberately distracting them by waving your arms or pointing in a particular direction can keep them from tracking the ball.

All forms of feigning movements and deceptions during the penalty kick should not delay the game excessively or unnecessarily before the kick is actually taken.

How to defend against a penalty kick

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If you’re playing as goalie, there are some things you can do to defend against a penalty kick, fully expecting the kicker to make feigning movements to try to deceive you. It can be a difficult task to truly read the kicker and figure out exactly when he or she is about to kick the ball into the goal while also having time to react and defend the goal on time. Often, goalkeepers will dive before the ball is even kicked in a direction they can best predict the ball will be aimed to. You can try this, just don’t dive too soon or the kicker may change their minds about where they will aim the ball. Keep in mind that the kicker cannot back up, so once they get close to the ball in a fast movement, they’re about to commit to a kick. You have just a fraction of a second to read where the shooter is going to kick, and if you block it correctly, then the kicker will miss a penalty.

Goalkeepers can also use the kicker’s past behavior to their advantage. Often goalkeepers will study the kicker’s past penalty kicks to help them better predict when and how the kicker is going to kick the ball. Keep in mind that if the kicker realizes that you’re taking note of how they kick, they may switch up the spot in which they kick.

The last way to help defend against a penalty kick as a goalkeeper is to utilize the kicker’s same tactic: distraction. They can distract by asking the referee whether or not the ball has been placed on the correct spot, talking to the kicker to try to get in their heads and mess up their strategies, pointing to one side before the kick (expecting the kicker to kick to the opposite side), cleaning their boots to delay the kick, and more.

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