Editor’s Note: The author of this article, Scott Zoino, is the starting goalkeeper for Oglethorpe University. Scott has earned Southern Athletic Association conference Player of the Week honors this season and lead Oglethorpe to its conference championship game.
A lot has been said about the unorthodox technique Josef Martinez uses to take his penalty kicks. Some people think he's a genius, others think it’s too risky. Now it’s time to break it down from a goalkeeper perspective.
In a penalty kick situation, goalkeepers are looking for any sign that will give away where you are going to shoot. This sign can come from where you start your run up, your eyes, your plant foot or most importantly the shape of your hips. High level goalkeepers will easily be able to predict where you are going to shoot if you do not disguise your body language. The hips are the most important to watch because they are the hardest to disguise. If a shooter messes with their hips too much it is very easy for them to miss the target. So usually if you can read their hips you can read which way they are going to shoot.
With his stuttered run up, long jump into his plant foot, and not looking at anything except the ball, Martinez does an amazing job of giving practically nothing away to the keeper while staying in control of his body so he is able to calmly slot the ball home.
Taking a closer look at the penalty against New York City FC, goalkeeper Sean Johnson knows that Martinez is looking for his first move. One can see that Johnson fakes an early dive to his left then dives to his right. It is extremely impressive that Josef was able to stay so composed and wait until the very last moment so he knows exactly where Johnson was going to dive.
Martinez’s only penalty miss this season came in a win against LA Galaxy.
In this instance even though the keeper, David Bingham, did not technically save the shot, he was a big reason why Martinez missed the target. By standing up and not showing his cards too early, Bingham made Josef uncomfortable when taking his shot. It has been surprising that we haven't seen more keepers take this approach when attempting to save a penalty from Josef. It gives the keeper the best chance of making the save. By forcing the shooter to choose which way they go, you are able to read his body language and try to react. Also, with this technique it is difficult for the shooter to generate power on their shot so if you dive to the correct side it will likely be saved.
There is no such thing as a perfect penalty technique. Most players have a spot that they will always go to. Getting consistent enough to hit a corner every time is also quite impressive and difficult to save. Especially when that ball is hit with pace. There are of course cons to this method as well. If you know where you are going to hit the ball it is harder for you to disguise your body language. This makes it easier for a keeper to know where you are shooting.
All this being said, if it ain’t broke don't fix it right? Scoring on 9/10 penalty kicks on the year is an amazing conversion rate. Don't expect Josef to switch up his technique any time soon, it’s worked for him quite well thus far.
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