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Soccer Set Plays

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Set plays, sometimes called set pieces, are times when the ball is stopped and the attacking team will be able to run a set play to try and score a goal. In soccer the set plays are corner kicks and free kicks. Sometimes the throw-in is referred to as a set play as well.

Set plays are important because they are a great scoring opportunity. Many teams score a lot of goals from set plays. Around 30-40% of goals in professional soccer are scored from set plays.

Corner Kicks

A corner kick is awarded to the attacking team when the ball crosses the goal line and it was last touched by the defense. The kick will be taken from the corner closest to where the ball crossed the goal line.

Corner kicks are a great opportunity to score. Generally the best kicker on the team will take the kick. Then the taller players will all line up a ways out from the goal. The kicker will try to kick the ball in the air across the front of the goal. The offensive players will charge the goal and try to head or kick the ball into the goal. Defensive players will each mark an attacker and try to prevent them from getting to the ball. They can head the ball away or the goalie will try to catch the ball or punch it away from the goal area.

Player kicking a corner kick
Source: US Air Force
Short Corner

In some cases it may make sense to kick a short kick out to another player who can then center the ball from a different angle. This can sometimes take the defense by surprise.

Things to know about the corner kick:

Free Kicks

The primary goal opportunity from free kick set plays comes from direct free kicks that are relatively close to the opponent's goal. Note that a direct free kick from within the penalty area is a penalty kick.

Corner arc and corner flag of soccer field
Author: W.carter, CC0, via Wikimedia
Often the defense will form a wall 10 yards away from the ball in order to make it more difficult to make a direct goal. One way to combat this is to make the first kick a quick pass and then mount an attack on goal. Another way is to try and curve the ball around the wall and into the goal. This is a difficult shot to make and takes a lot of practice. Most professional teams have one or two players who practice and take the majority of the free kicks.

More Soccer Links:

Soccer Rules
Soccer Field
Substitution Rules
Length of the Game
Goalkeeper Rules
Offside Rule
Fouls and Penalties
Referee Signals
Restart Rules

Soccer Gameplay
Controlling the Ball
Passing the Ball
Playing Defense

Strategy and Drills
Soccer Strategy
Team Formations
Player Positions
Set Plays or Pieces
Individual Drills
Team Games and Drills

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