Can You Actually FEINT When Taking A Penalty? (Explained)

When taking a penalty kick, there’s about a 50/50 chance of scoring a goal. To increase those chances, your kick will have to be either very precise, very strong, or both.

You may be wondering if it’s possible to increase your chances of scoring a penalty by feinting, as it may actually be illegal!

In this article, you will learn when is feinting permitted, and see some real scenarios.

Can you perform a fake shot during a penalty?

Before going in-depth and learning more about the rules, let’s define what feinting is, based on the football terms in the IFAB glossary.

Feinting is an action that attempts to confuse an opponent. The Laws define permitted and ‘illegal’ feinting.

Feinting was first allowed in 2002, when FIFA clarified this behaviour as permitted. Before this, the kicker had to make one uninterrupted run when taking a penalty.

Today, this is what the rules according to Law 14 of The Laws of the Game:

Feinting in the run-up to take a penalty kick to confuse opponents is permitted.

However, if a player feints to kick the ball once he has completed his run-up, this is considered an infringement of Law 14, and an act of unsporting behaviour for which the player must be cautioned.

Another type of unsporting behaviour could be showboating during a match, where a player may actually receive a yellow card for it!

An unsuccessful attempt of doing a fake shot during a penalty

Here is an unsuccessful attempt by one of the best footballers of all time. Back in 2011, in a Champions League match against AC Milan, Lionel Messi did a fake penalty shot. 

Because of this, he received a yellow card.

Messi was deemed to have already completed his run-up as he was very close to the ball, and when he performed a fake shot, it was considered to be illegal feinting.

As such, the goal was disallowed!

You can find out whether Messi actually plays as a winger or striker in this analysis here.

Can you stutter step on a penalty kick?

The stutter step can often come as a good way to confuse the goalkeeper during a penalty.

What do the rules have to say about this behaviour?

As mentioned before in Law 14:

Feinting in the run-up to take a penalty kick to confuse opponents is permitted as part of football.

This means that a player can use the stutter step during a penalty as long as he shoots the ball after the run-up.

An example of a successful stutter step on a penalty kick

The great Radamel Falcao used the stutter step as a way to score a penalty against Peru.

Falcao was stuttering during the run-up, but did not feint once he had completed it. As such, this stutter step is permitted and the goal was allowed.

Here’s another stutter penalty that is performed by Lewandowski:

Can you stop when taking a penalty?

While it’s kind of like the stutter step, stopping before taking a penalty is a much different story.

It is not explicitly mentioned in the Laws of the Game, but here are 2 rules from Law 14 to consider:

Firstly, “feinting to kick the ball once the kicker has completed the run-up (feinting in the run-up is permitted); the referee cautions the kicker.”

This rule treats stopping as feinting at the end of the run-up. This, by default, makes this a forbidden behaviour (the Messi example can apply here as well).

The second rule of the same law states:

Players cannot ‘deliberately’ stop at the end of their run-up and create a feint that gains an advantage (e.g. by misleading the keeper).

This rule is rather clear that stopping at the end of the run-up is an illegal way to mislead the goalkeeper and score a penalty.

A controversial decision

Tottenham Hotspurs’ Son Heung-Min attempted such a kick during this FA Cup match against Rochdale, where he stopped in the middle of the run-up.

The referee disallowed the goal and VAR agreed with this decision later.

This was rather controversial as Son stopped during the run-up, but did not stop after he completed the run-up (something similar to Messi’s example).

However, this could have been deemed as unsporting behaviour by the referee, which led him to disallow the goal.

Can you dummy a penalty?

This is a similar example to a fake shot. The term “dummy a penalty” generally stands for a penalty when you do not touch the ball.

Here, Law 14 is clear again with the same rule mentioned before:

Feinting to kick the ball once the player has completed his run-up is considered an infringement of Law 14.

This rule is rather obvious, so there can be no debate about whether taking a dummy penalty is legal or not.

An example of bad refereeing on a dummy penalty

Luis Boa Morte once scored this type of penalty and the goal counted. This was a charity match, so either that’s the reason for the allowance, or it’s a classic example of bad refereeing!

Can you perform a slow run-up during a penalty?

There are no Laws that deem a slow run-up as a foul, so long as the player does not feint at the end of the run-up.

You may have seen a few penalty takers take an extremely long run-up before they take their shot.

There are no rules that disallow this, so long as the kicker does not feint at the end of the run-up!

This may result in confusing the goalkeeper, such that he may dive the wrong way.


Unfortunately, it is not that clear exactly what the Laws of the Game define as legal and illegal feinting.

The only feinting that is outright illegal is if the player feints when he completes the run-up, while feinting during the run-up is permitted!

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