By Chad Zimmerman
Although a rare situation, penalty kicks amp the pressure of a soccer game like nothing else. Just ask the French National Team, who choked in their shootout against Italy for the '06 World Cup title. Should a PK situation come between your team and a shot at the championship, remember this quick tip from Steve Swanson, head women's soccer coach at the University of Virginia:
The best way to practice penalty kicks is to take penalty kicks with a keeper in goal. Although it doesn't re-create the exact same pressure you would feel in a PK situation, it will increase your anxiety level. Work on striking the ball well; that's one of the most important parts of a good PK. To focus on striking the ball, tell the keeper which way you're going to shoot. Since the keeper already knows where you're going, you'll concentrate on the quality of your strike instead of on faking him out.
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