Junior Hockey World Cup: Decoding penalty shootouts

As a tie-breaker tool, shootouts, an exciting part of a modern hockey match, probably pose the sternest of tests for the teams.

REPRESENTATIVE IMAGE: According to South African head coach Sihle Ntuli, it’s a lot about the training.   -  Getty Images

As a tie-breaker tool, shootouts, an exciting part of a modern hockey match, probably pose the sternest of tests for the teams.

The men’s Junior World Cup here has posed this challenge for a few sides too.

“It's not easy to train because in training it looks easy. With pressure, it's a different thing. So when we train the shootouts, if you don’t score then you are out. It's basically the same as the match,” said Germany head coach Valentin Altenburg.

According to South African head coach Sihle Ntuli, it’s a lot about the training.

“We have trained the players a lot. Realistically these things happen, so we have to be ready. The guys who took it (in our classification match against Pakistan) trained for a month. We just let them do what they have been practising.

“We normally make two teams and make a competition. I think that helped us. I just share the stories (from the senior team) and moments with the players as much as possible. It's a lot of pressure,” said Ntuli.

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Spain coach Alejandro Siri feels a bit of luck is also involved in the shootouts. “It's a lottery. It's a fight between the goalkeeper and the players. It's different from the (penalty) strokes,” said Siri.

Goalkeepers find time to practise saving the shootout shots.

“After penalty corner practice, we take five-six shootouts. One who goes first takes three, the next one takes two,” said Indian custodian Prashant Chauhan, giving an idea about their drill.

Training to save shootout attempts and maintaining one’s composure are crucial factors for a goalkeeper.

“I kept calm and trusted my teammates. We practised for the shootouts in the last two months,” said Argentina goalkeeper Nehuen Hernando after his team’s shootout success against France in the semifinals on Friday.

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