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Inside Jordan Pickford’s penalty saving technique, from using historic trends to save spot kicks to his dive execution

JORDAN PICKFORD has regularly been the hero when it comes to a penalty shootout for his country.

The England and Everton goalkeeper, 30, saved Manuel Akanji’s effort for Switzerland to hand the Three Lions an advantage in their shootout win in their Euro 2024 quarter-final.

AP

Jordan Pickford’s penalty saving prowess was on display against the Swiss[/caption]

Getty

Pickford’s water bottle trick has been highlighted, although he has other strategies[/caption]

Now, with the help of Goalkeeper.com – who support elite-level clubs and organisations by using a forensic approach to goalkeeper recruitment, performance and development – we’ve uncovered Pickford’s penalty-saving technique.

Join SunSport in what makes the shotstopper so strong, and if it goes to pens against Netherlands on Wednesday, why Three Lions fans should feel confident.

Uses historic trends

Pickford is well prepared when it comes to facing the ball from 12-yards.

His water bottle trick has become infamous with the list of penalty takers and direction of shot taped on to it.

However in the Swiss shootout, Pickford ‘listened’ to the bottle three out of four times, and the bottle was correct three out of four times.

Sadly for Pickford, he only got the direction correct twice. The penalty when he dived ‘against’ the bottle saw Fabian Schar put the ball where the bottle recommended.

While, Zeki Amdouni went central rather than to Pickford’s left.

Although this is going against his research, it is a good thing.

You cannot always listen blindly to most probable placements, and a goalkeeper’s intuition should also play a role.

That human element remains important.


Utilises a mixed strategy

Being a goalkeeper is often called the ‘loneliest job’ in the world.

And when it comes to penalties, your team-mates are solely reliant upon your strategy to save one.

Often, we’ve seen goalies who prefer to favour one side – and continuously dive one way.

However, Pickford adopts a mixed strategy.

Sometimes, he will dive to the power side – saving from Jorginho in the Euro 2020 final.

For Everton last season, he stayed in the middle and relied on his reactions to save a James Maddison strike in a Premier League game against Leicester City in 2023.

His save from Akanji in the Swiss shootout was made on the placement side.

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Pickford dives to his ‘power side’ to stop Jorginho scoring from 12 yards[/caption]

Getty

Often, Pickford adopts a mixed strategy – like when he stayed in the middle to save from James Maddison[/caption]

Technical execution of dive

Goalkeepers are hindered during penalty shootouts – with the Fifa rulebook meaning they have to stay on the line until the shot is taken.

That means the lift off of your dive has to be executed a certain way.

Pickford launches himself from his back foot behind the line, pushes his body weight forwards, makes no large negative step and keeps both hands active to make the save.

This was put into effect when he made saves from Italy’s Andrea Belotti and Colombia’s Carlos Bacca at the 2018 World Cup.

An example of a large negative step is shown below by France goalkeeper Mike Maignan in his country’s 5-3 shootout win over Portugal in their recent quarter-final.

Maignan initially starts in the middle of the goal then moves his right foot way back across to the left side of the goal before pushing off to dive to his right.

This, therefore, means his leading diving hand hits the ground way short of the far post, making Cristiano Ronaldo’s penalty impossible to save even though it went into the goal over a yard from the far post.

In comparison, when facing up to Belotti, Pickford starts in the middle of the goal, like Maignan.

EPA

When saving penalties, Pickford launches himself from his back foot behind the line and pushes his body weight forwards[/caption]

In comparison, French goalkeeper Maignan takes a negative step – impacting his chances of making a save
Pickford does not move in a negative direction before his dive


However, he does not move in a negative direction before his dive. Instead, he moves slightly further left before pushing off, therefore his leading diving hand hits the ground far closer to the far post.

This means he saves Belloti’s penalty comfortably as he covers far more goal area in a far shorter time.

Club vs country metrics

Interestingly, Pickford is better at saving penalties in shootouts for England than in his overall career average, and better at saving in shootouts vs in game.

Clearly, Pickford performs better in an England shirt and when there is bigger pressure.

But that could also be explained because he’s coming up against penalty takers that wouldn’t usually take them.

Still, Pickford is far better than previous England goalkeepers who were actually one of the main drivers behind the Three Lions losing previous shootouts – and not the players who missed penalties.

Previous No1’s failed to save penalties above the average rate our competitors were doing.

BLANKENHAIN, GERMANY - JUNE 11: Jordan Pickford of England poses for a portrait during the England Portrait session ahead of the UEFA EURO 2024 Germany on June 11, 2024 in Blankenhain, Germany. (Photo by Oliver Hardt - UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images)
When it comes to penalties, Pickford performs better for his country than his club

Jordan Pickford

Jordan Pickford

Pickford saves at an above average rate.

Netherlands, you have been warned.

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