Soccer Penalty Shootout: Laws of The Game

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Written by Daniel Pena, Bachelors in Kinesiology and footballer: Learn More

What is a soccer penalty shootout? Some of the most memorable moments in the beautiful game have occurred during a penalty shootout. A penalty shootout is one of the most stressful situations for any soccer player, youth or professional, coach, or fan to be a part of.

The uncertainty and tension that comes with each kick can be overwhelming especially if you do not understand the rules of penalty shootouts. That is why in this blog, I will cover everything you need to know about one of the most basic, but important soccer rules, the penalty shootout.

Soccer Penalty Shootout

What is a Penalty kick?

During regulation time and extra time, a penalty kick can happen if the defending team commits a serious foul or a handball inside their own penalty box against the opposing players. When this happens the referee will signal a penalty kick for the attacking team that got fouled.

During a penalty kick, the ball is placed at the penalty spot kick which is 12 yards away from the center of the goal.The team that got fouled will choose one player to take the penalty kick which is basically a 1V1 kick against the goalkeeper.

Once the ball is placed at the center spot, the rest of the players have to be outside the penalty area and penalty arc and the goalkeeper must stay on their line until the shot is taken. The kicker is also only able to kick the ball once the referee blows the whistle and makes sure all the players are in the right position.

The penalty taker usually has the advantage during a penalty kick, but the goalkeeper can use tactics, such as getting into their head and moving around to throw off the kicker. In order for the penalty kick to count as a goal the entire ball must cross the goal line.

What is a Soccer Penalty Shootout?

A soccer penalty shootout is a tie breaking method that is different from a regular penalty kick because the shootout takes place after regulation time and extra time. Penalty shoot outs are only used if the match needs a clear winner and cannot end in a tie such as during a major international tournament like the FIFA World Cup.

The soccer penalty shootout is the final way to determine a winner of the match and they are also not typically used during league matches because the scores are based on points throughout the entire season.

Before the penalty shootout begins, the referee will meet with the captains of both teams and do a coin toss to determine at which end of the field the shootout will take place and to see which team kicks first. The kicks during a shootout take place at the penalty mark, or penalty spot, which is the same spot used for regular penalty kicks.

During a penalty shootout, the two teams choose five players to take the penalty shots and the teams alternate meaning team A shoots, then team B, then team A and so on. Also the players that were on the field before the final whistle was blown, must stand at the center line of the field during the penalty kicks.

Both teams take an equal number of penalty shots and the team that scores the most goals of those five kicks is the match winner. However, if both teams are tied after the five kicks, the match goes into sudden death, meaning that the team that misses first loses.

When are Penalty Shootouts Used?

Although penalty shootouts can be some of the most exciting and nerve-wracking parts of the beautiful game, they are not as common as most people may think. Penalty shootouts are a tie breaking method that is only used during matches that cannot end in draws and need clear winners, such as major tournaments like the World Cup and Champions League games

Whatever team scores the most goals during the shootout wins and if both teams are tied after the fifth kick then the shoot out is determined by sudden death.

Soccer Penalty Shootout

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Frequently Asked Questions

When were penalty shootouts first introduced?

Penalty shootouts were first introduced by FIFA and the International Football Association Board in 1970. Before 1970, there were no penalty shootouts and many people criticize soccer penalty kicks because they feel they have to do more with luck than they do with skill.

What is the difference between penalty kicks and free kicks?

Both penalty kicks and free kicks are given to the attacking team for a foul committed by the defending team, but for different reasons. If the defending team commits a serious foul inside their own penalty area, the opposing team will get a penalty kick, but if the defending team commits a serious foul outside their own penalty area, the opposing team will get a direct free kick.

If the defending team commits a minor foul both inside and outside their own penalty area, the opposing team will get an indirect free kick.

What is the most famous World Cup penalty shootout?

One of the most famous World cup penalty shootouts in recent history is the most recent on in Qatar 2022 between France and Argentina, which Argentina won.


In conclusion, a soccer penalty shootout is one of the most exciting, but nerve-wracking parts of soccer. Watching a penalty shootout can be a lot of fun, but taking part in one may not be so much fun for some players. In this blog, I covered everything you need to know about the penalty shoot out rules in soccer.

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