Coaching Soccer Set Plays (free kicks & corners)

Statistics show that 40-50% of soccer goals scored come directly from set plays (corners and free kicks) or when possession is regained right after a set play. Considering how many scoring chances occur from set plays, it is a wonder that teams don’t spend more time practicing them.

Almost 90% of soccer set plays in the attacking third are the result of direct positive play and the pressure that is immediately applied to the defending team. Teams don’t typically go about their play to try to draw fouls and get set plays. However, they do come as a product of aggressive attacking play. They are the consolidation prize for failing to score from your direct attacks.

There are 5 basic advantages in attacking from set plays as opposed to attacking in the normal course of fluid play:

  1. The kick or throw is always made with a ball that is still; control problems are therefore eliminated.
  2. The opponents should be ten yards away from the ball. There is therefore no pressure on the kicker.
  3. A large number of attackers can move forward in advanced positions without incurring risk.
  4. Players can be placed in pre-determined positions to maximize the use of individual abilities.
  5. Rehearsal can produce high levels of timing and coordinated movement.

The Nutmeg Free Kick

This was one of my favorite free kicks that we ran with our high school soccer team this past season. For some reason, the guys kept screwing up the nutmeg part, but when they executed it correctly, they always got a good look at the goal.

This play can be used in an Indirect Free kick situation, but also works with direct kicks as well. P1 is going to rapidly approach the ball and really sell a fake shot. The wall is to think that P2 will just step on the ball so that P1 can take a strike at goal. Usually the wall will flinch as P1 goes by. Instead, P2 will toe poke the ball between P3′s legs. P4 will run onto it and strike for net.

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The Stop N Go Corner

This is a corner kick that I run all the time on my adult league team. It has yet to fail us when it comes to getting a quality opportunity on goal. In fact last week we were able to win a PK in a game that would determine first place for the league. We converted and took the 1 goal win.

The play begins with A2 sprinting to the corner and calling for the ball. Make sure he yells for it nice and loud and gestures to his feet. His defender (D1) will make a mad dash to stay with him. Right as he is about to reach the corner, he should stop, yell nevermind and act like he is going to drift back into play. I guarantee his defender will relax just a bit.

Right then A2 will pour on the speed down the goal line while A1 hits him with a lead pass. A2 should take the ball on the dribble as far as he can down the line. If a defender shows (which he usually does), then he can hit A4 at the spot or A5 at the top of the 18. If no defender steps up, he should take it all the way to goal. A3 will frame the back post and pick up an errant shots.

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