Sunday, July 19, 2009

How to Choose a PK Shooter

Last night the US MNT beat Panama 2-1 in the Gold Cup Quarterfinals. We are fielding a team of younger players this tournament and they are facing a tough fight to get to the finals and they have risen to the occasion thus far. It has been fun to watch.

Last night's game went to overtime, during which the US was awarded a PK (finally) after Kenny Cooper was taken down in the box (see photo above). In general, I really struggled with the officiating in this game and noticed a lot of questionable calls.

As we were watching the PK unfold, my wife asked me how I thought the kicker of the PK was chosen at the level of play of a national team game. I had no idea and it is a great question. Turns out that one of the press asked the same question. Here is the exchange as quoted from the US Soccer website.
On who takes a penalty kick in a situation like tonight: Bob Bradley: "That's decided on the field. Obviously he's a player that has confidence and he's taken them for his club team. After the foul there was a discussion between Kenny and Brian and Kenny stepped up."
From the NY Daily News (of which I am not a regular reader at all):

Veteran Brian Ching was ready to take the penalty kick, but Cooper wanted it.

"Kenny was like, 'I got it.'" Ching said. "I said, 'OK, you're confident about it, go ahead and take it.' He buried it. Hats off to him."

That's pretty interesting. I would be curious to know how other coaches, at different levels let this decision play out. For me, at the U-18 level last season, I think I would have tapped the player I thought should take the kick...although there is a big part of me that would want the players to make the decision based on their confidence and feel during the game at the time. There have been a few occasions where I have let my players sort it out in the past. Interestingly enough, on those occasions, after the kicker is chosen on the field, they would inevitable turn to me and make sure that it is ok. This was definitely a function of the age level I was coaching.

I am thinking that the method used all depends on your individual team and the maturity level of the players that you coach, possibly even the mood and tone of the game in that minute. The biggest thing for me is that if I think it is important as a coach to pick the shooter, I just need to be sure to do so prior to my players going through self-selection. If not, all sorts of ego and confidence issues would result if I decide to change their direction after a shooter is chosen...for both the player who I choose and the player who is selected on the field, especially if they are two different players.


rc said...

I guess it may be a bit old school, or amateurish, but in my experience (what I have been told by coaches from midgets to college) the player that gets fouled should not take the PK. I guess it has to do w/ the emotion of the situation...

pele1410 said...

Once they are old enough, the players on the field should decide who takes it. They all know who can and can't take it. And usually the one that wants to step up and take it (especially in a pressure situation) is good enough to take it. Knowing you're good enough is a big advantage in shooting a pk.

RC: I was always taught that too, but atleast in the pros that never seems to be the case. We never really followed it either.

wilablog said...

I am from the same school, depending on the foul, the player fouled may not be the right choice. The big question is how old is old enough? That's why my current thinking is that it depends solely on the individual team's maturity and the game - at least at the youth level. I do think that 16 and up may be the age where I would start to consider letting the kids decide....