James wary of pen practice
David James has revealed the dangers of spending too much time training for spot-kicks.
Last Updated: 05/06/10 3:50pm
David James insists England will be as prepared as possible for a penalty shoot-out at the World Cup, but has revealed the dangers of spending too much time training for spot-kicks.
The Three Lions have a miserable record when it comes to spot-kicks in major tournaments, losing five out of six in their history.
It is sometimes suggested they should spend more time putting in practice, although the counter-argument is that it is difficult to replicate the conditions of a competitive shoot-out.
While James insists the players have done more work on penalties under Fabio Capello, the goalkeeper has some other ideas about why training for such a scenario can backfire.
"People were always asking why England did not practice penalties more and, under Mr Capello, we have done," he told The Sun.
"If there's the potential for penalty shoot-outs I'm 100 per cent confident everyone will be well versed.
"In Capello you've got a manager that's left no stone unturned.
"But it's not always as simple as just spending hours practising - that can complicate matters.
"If a penalty taker practices with the same keeper, the keeper starts reading and saving them.
"Then you've got your penalty taker developing a complex because he is not scoring them and your keeper is completely thrown when someone new takes a shot at him."
James reckons luck plays a major part, although he accepts the odds are always stacked heavily against the keeper.
"You can dream up a million theories," he said. "In the end a lot does just boil down to guesswork. Yours and theirs. But sometimes it is just instinctive.
"For any budding penalty takers out there, your best bet is just to smash it as hard as you can."
James added: "You can't save a penalty from a brilliant taker and Eric Cantona was the best. His technique was so good it was a joke.
"After he retired I found out his secret, he was watching the keeper. As soon as the keeper's knee went, Cantona took the ball the other way and left him stranded. For any keeper a bent knee is a point of no return.
"But sometimes it's the gamesmanship that gets you. It's worse against former team-mates.
"I remember facing Stevie Gerrard and thought 'I know where you're going to put this'.
"Then I asked myself 'is he thinking the same thing? What if he puts it the other way?' Your head is full of questions."