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How Far Away is A Penalty Kick?

In short, It’s 12 yards. A striker’s shot not only has to make it across the distance but also possesses enough power to beat the goalkeeper. 

This article will introduce you to some shooting and defending strategies for penalty shootouts. Soon, you will be able to make the most of the space between you and your opponent and gain an upper hand over them.

How Far Away Is A Penalty Kick In Soccer?

Penalty kicks take place within the penalty area, and are taken from the aptly named penalty spot. A penalty area’s dimensions are 44 yards in width and 18 yards in length. 

The space between the penalty kick spot and the goalpost must be 12 yards on a straight line to the center. In meters, the distance from the spot to the goal 10.97m.

Only the goalkeeper and the player taking the penalty kick can be in this area. All other players must be outside the semi-circle during the shootout.

Why Is It Placed at This Distance? 

A penalty is taken from a 12-yard distance to ensure that both the penalty taker and goalkeeper can perform under fair  or ‘equal’ conditions. The space allows the penalty taker to come up with a strategy to outwit the keeper. 

Similarly, the 12 yards let goalkeepers analyze the scenario and the possible approach the penalty taker might opt for. It allows him to formulate a defensive strategy and anticipate the direction of the penalty kick. 

A Few Strategies for Taking a Penalty

Players often use a couple of different strategies to ensure that they score a goal when taking a penalty kick. Every striker must understand the mental warfare of a penalty. Only the most cool and collected minds will come out on top consistently when it comes to penalties. 

Below are some basic yet efficient strategies, used by the pros that will ensure you have the upper hand while stepping up for a penalty kick.

Power Shot

An easy and reliable way to score a goal through a penalty kick is to simply shoot with power. It’s straightforward in execution and the go to for defenders. All you have to do is ensure accuracy while kicking the ball and pack enough power into it to propel it past the goalkeeper.

The up side is your penalty doesn’t have to be perfectly placed to beat the keeper, but with great power comes a lack of accuracy.


Among all the strategies you can employ while taking a penalty kick, nothing is more devastating than the Panenka. It completely destroys the morale of the goalkeeper, due to the saveable nature of the shot. 

Developed by Antonin Panenka in 1976, this strategy aims to live firmly in the goalkeepers head. Rent free, of course. It requires the taker to predict that the goalkeeper will dive while running up for the penalty. 

Unlike most strategies, the Panenka relies on the goalkeeper making the first move out of anticipation. If they make an early dive, all the penalty taker has to do is gently chip the ball into a wide open net, leading to a simple yet humiliating goal.

But it’s a double edged sword, a keeper can rise above being beaten by a panenka penalty, but it’s arguably far more embarrassing when the keeper predicts this and stays in the middle to make the most comfortable save of his life.


Any smart football striker will factor deception into the penalty taking routine. Using the psychological aspect of penalties to one’s advantage is often more fruitful than emphasizing raw power during this situation. 

Strikers can exercise deception in a variety of ways. Slow run-ups and changing foot positioning in the last moment are some of the most common tactics to deceive the goalkeeper. 

A Few Strategies for Saving Penalties


All strategies for saving penalties rely on two major factors, hand-eye coordination, and mental strength. Goalkeepers need to rely on good reflexes, and , most importantly, guess the right direction to make the save. 

Another strategy is to throw the striker’s focus off balance during penalties. Stretching out your arms while stepping up to make the save is a great intimidation tactic. Another is hitting the bottom of the crossbar to put the penalty taker off. Acting in an over calm manner and taunting the shooter is also an effective approach.

Understanding how far a penalty is away from the goal is only half the battle

Although selecting a shooting method is a necessity for a successful penalty kick, having a cool and calm mindset is a must. Exercise confidence during the shot and you are bound to walk away having converted from the spot.

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