takingapenalty-15-2015-12-231GIt has been proven that 50% of a team’s victory is down to successful penalties; put clearly, scoring penalties assures half the win.

We know that mental, technical and physical factors accompany the act of taking a penalty; studies show that 70% of the shot relies on the mental aspects.

These mental factors can either help or distract us, acting like ghosts that attract failure.

That is why we should “;;;kill” or eliminate those ghosts that bother us, and work to carry out penalties which we visualise as being successful: the goal, the ball travelling through the air, and through the goal. A great golfer told me that he visualised his shot before he hit the ball, stating that the technique helped him a lot. They call it visualisation.

Evidently, taking a penalty at the beginning of a game is not the same as taking one towards the end, since the latter can define the game and even the championship.

Also, penalty takers differ day to day. It is very important that a team rely on two penalty takers, so that one can step up when the other is lacking confidence. The same can be said for the horses; one should practice taking penalties on every horse.

The technical aspect – the technique of the shot – should also be taken into account. The automatic, perfect swing should be carried out with exact precision: timing, angle, contact, finish.

These questions are valid when thinking about taking a penalty:

– Have you seen yourself take a penalty before?
– Do you have a special technique?
– Do you know what mistakes you make or what worries you more when you take a penalty?
– Can you recover correctly after an unforced error?
– Do you know how your horse should be when you make contact with the ball?
– Do you consider that a penalty needs distance and therefore you should carry out all the stages of the swing?
– Do you know how much time it takes from the beginning to the end of the swing?
-What do you think about when you hit to goal, with or without defenders?
-Do you regularly practice penalties?

Many of these questions and their respective answers will help you to reconsider the situations that are crucial in the game. Thanks to technology, the answers are exact and error is minimised – that is what we offer with our specialised software, where we break the swing up into stages and analyse its key positions; up to 1600 moments can be studied in the seconds it takes to carry out the swing.

Within a penalty swing there are factors that can be managed, such as the following:

-The type of swing, its speed, angle and timing, just like the horse and its movement, balance and rhythm.
-The horse must arrive to the ball in a similar position to that when a horse jumps a fence: with rhythm.
-The placing of the ball on the floor, looking for the best positioning so as to assure a clean hit.

There are also extrinsic circumstances that should be considered, such as wind and distance between you and the goal, to name just two examples.

Curiously, statistics speak for themselves and determine the success rate of each type of penalty (Source IPA 10/02/2015).

Penalty 1 = 100% success rate
Penalty 2 = (30 yards) 95% success rate
Penalty 3 = (40 yards) 78% success rate
Penalty 4 = (60 yards) success rate
Corner = 20% success rate

These figures show the penalties that merit more attention.

These statistics were taken in February during tournaments at International Polo Club, Palm Beach.


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