Top 4 Set Plays & 7 Expert Positioning Tips to Master Corner Kicks

By | Last updated December 13, 2017

You’ll agree with me:

Corner kicks are SUPER tough to convert into goals or to defend against.

Really?

To tell you the truth, they can become so much easier by putting into practice some soccer corner kick plays and learning a few positioning tips…

…that will make you score more goals and also avoid many of them.

In today’s article, I am going to tell you what those set plays are… and how you make best use of them.

Introduction

When it comes to corner kicks, organization and knowledge is the name of the game.

The team that better understands what is required of them by their coach is typically the one that will rule the day.

In essence, this means that corner kicks are an avenue for your team to make up a goal or two on your opponents.

In this article, we’re going to talk about some of the best ways to set up on corner kicks.

Next, we are also going to look at where you need to be in order to score from corner kicks and how to position yourself or your team to defend against them.

What Are Set Plays in Soccer?

We have already discussed what set pieces in soccer are in a previous article.

To refresh your memory, set pieces are situations where the ball is returned to open play.

In those situations, you usually see “set plays”.

Set plays in soccer are predetermined routines or plays that have been rehearsed at practice so that teams can have better chances at making the most out of their awarded set pieces.

They can be originated from the several different kinds of set pieces (from throw-ins to free kicks to goal kicks, from kickoffs to corner kick set pieces, etc.) and, of course, they are born out of the inventiveness of coaches and out of the creativity of players.

A set play (like the soccer corner kick plays we’ll talk about in this post) can have one desired target or it can have a number of options.

Depending on the age, ability of players, and whether they pay attention well or not, you can have a number of looks.

Best Soccer Corner Kick Set Plays

With the above being said, let’s now take a look at some of the best corner kick set plays.

#1: Text Book Corner

The Text Book Corner is the most simple, cut and dry method out there.

How to set it up:
In this method, you have a designated corner kick taker and you will line up your other players in the box. Each of them stands back a good 10-15 yards (meters) from the goal.

One player will run to the near post (the post closest to the ball and the corner taker), while another runs to the middle of the goal.

Another player holds back and stays right at the penalty mark, while the last runner goes to the back post (the post furthest away from the ball).

One or two players will be outside of the box, in case the ball is only half cleared out of the danger zone, so that they can either shoot it or pass it to a teammate.

What to do:
In terms of what to do here, you can tell your taker to simply hit a certain mark every time, or you can allow them to decide where to aim to.

This is up to you and should be determined by how well your players understand the concepts you are teaching them.

#2: Going Short

If you’ve read any of my articles so far, you will know that I like to play quick and fast. This includes corners.

You don’t have to wait for the referee unless he/she tells you so, so you can take it as soon as you want.

How to set it up:
In this method, you are trying to take advantage of an opponent that is not paying attention.

Simply have a player close to the ball pass it to another one close by.

Instruct your striker or center midfielder to run to the middle of the box and wait around the penalty spot.

What to do:
If this works out right, you will have a player dribbling goal toward the end line.

This player can either shoot or they can pass the ball backwards to the open teammate before the other team knows what even hit them.

Check out this video, where coach Bert Ingley explains this corner kick set play in further detail:

#3: Setting Picks (or Screens)

If you are looking for something advanced yet not so much so that it reaches the point of confusion, here is one for you.

How to set it up:
A pick is most commonly used in basketball and it is where a player sets himself in a position and stays there in order for a teammate to have a more free run.

This is the same idea in soccer, but you can’t be as obvious about it.

While you are entitled to stand your ground, you can’t just fake it known you are running a screen (blocking move).

So to combat this, we are going to take two players and have them run — abruptly — across one another.

What to do:
This can freeze and confuse the defense into submission and it allows you to have a more open shot on goal.

You can do this with two players, or even more, it’s just depending on what you want.

#4: Sneaky Corner

The last corner we’ll mention is a real trick play.

This corner is very sneaky and has been attempted by Manchester United in the past.

How to set it up:
In this one, you have a player walk to the ball slowly and then roll it forward one tiny revolution.

The idea is to make the other team think it’s not in play.

What to do:
A second player that is close by then comes in and begins dribbling before anyone knows what has happened and you could have a goal on your hands.

Corner Kick Positioning

In previous entries of our blog, we’ve taught you how to defend a corner kick and even added a few of the best corner kick drills to help get better at it.

That’s not everything you need, though, far from it!

Have ever considered the correct corner kick positions you or your players should occupy in both attacking and defending corner kick set plays?

That’s what we are going to learn now!

Attacking Corner Kick Positioning Best Practices

Here are a few things to know about how to position yourself or your players when attacking the goal on a corner kick:

  • Placing someone in front of the goalkeeper can obstruct their view and their path to the ball.
  • Spread out your runs and mix them up. Make sure that your players aren’t all over each other and that they are not running to the same place. Also, make sure you don’t have too many players in there because it can be too confusing.
  • Always have someone waiting for a pull back and someone waiting to “clean out the trash”. This way, if the soccer ball comes outside the box the other team won’t have an easy run down the field and you still will have a chance to score a goal.
  • Attackers should always look to get into the blind spot of the defender. Another objective is to get behind them so that a header or kick will be much easier and won’t be aimed into the defense.

Defensive Corner Kick Positioning Best Practices

Other than picking tactical systems, there aren’t many defensive options on corners in terms of set plays. But you can make sure your players are lined up properly to combat it:

  • No matter if you are playing man-to-man, zone or some combination of them, you need to make sure that there are at least some players in between the runner and the goal. This way, they can’t get behind and score a simple wide open goal.
  • If you are putting men on the posts, only one should be one each post. Also, they need to be facing outward and hugging the post. If it goes between them and the post, it’s a useless thing to do and they can better see the field by facing outward.
  • Goalkeepers need to make sure that they are standing at a 45 degree angle. They need to be able to see both the runners and the ball at the same time and stand about ½ to ¾ of the way in between the goal.

    On corners that swing outward, they can stand out a couple of yards (meters), but on corners that swing in toward the goal, they need to be on their goal line.

Conclusion

Corner kicks are some of the best chances to score at youth level because it is a time when teams that are organized have a chance.

This is the moment when you can make up for a lack of talent, speed or even height, if you simply know what you are doing and can communicate well.

Soccer corner kick plays are tough, but with a little bit of help and maybe a little ingenuity, you can make them into a cakewalk.

As with everything else in soccer, sports and even life, practice makes perfect!
–Coach Mike

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