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Attacking corner kick set-piece that works for all levels

by Pablo M17th May 2021

Corner kick

Set-pieces are hard to execute when you play an amateur league and have very little time to train. But, you must have a couple of simple plays under your sleeve to take advantage of free kicks and corner kicks. This post describes a simple attacking corner kick set-piece that works well at amateur and professional level.

At the professional level, you often see complex corner kick routines. Players cross the path of other teammates to confuse defenders, a player rushes from nowhere to receive a short kick, the ball goes to the near post for a player to flick it back … These plays need a lot of practice, something that is very hard to achieve in a Sundays’ league team. The set-piece in this post is very simple, each player has an assigned zone to start and a zone to run into. Following the picture below, these are the roles of each player:

  • Players A, B, C and D wait between the penalty spot and the penalty area border on the far post side. Before the ball is kicked, they run into their respective zones.
  • Player A runs to the near post.
  • Players B and C run into the middle of the goal area.
  • Player D runs to the far post.
  • The fullback must stay at enough distance to avoid drawing attention on him. If nobody marks them, the kicker can decide to pass the ball to the fullback. Then the fullback can launch a direct cross with a confused defence, or even.
  • Player F fulfils a few roles: option for a short pass and to collect any ball bouncing out of the penalty area. This player can also shoot at the goal if there is a chance to do so.
  • Player G collects any ball bouncing out of the penalty area or close to the far post. This player can also attempt a direct shot at the goal.
  • Two defenders stay back on the mid circle in staggered positions. The centre-back waits in the defending half of the circle, while another defender (either a centre-back or a full-back) waits in the attacking half. These defenders are there to collect a long ball that resulted from a rejection or slow down a counter-attack. Unless an easy tackle or clearing is possible, they shouldn’t rush to the ball or the opposition players. Their main role is to help the team recovering from a counterattack.
  • Player F and the fullback can also run together to collect a short corner and create 3v2 or 3v1 situations.
Corner kick
Corner kick starting positions

This corner kick set-piece works very well because where everyone knows their role and lets the kicker make last-minute decisions. The kicker can also use hand signals to show where he is kicking. However, in amateur football, using signals may complicate things, it is easier to let people run into zones regardless if the ball is going in that direction. The only exception is if the kicker decides a short pass. In this situation, players need to be called and to rush closer to the kicker.

Corner kicks are a great opportunity to score, but they can leave the team open to a counterattack. Players may really commit to shoot at goal or clear the ball. It is a no-no to lose the ball and be exposed to counterattack because a player tried to dribble through players or took too long to make a decision with the ball. When the ball is in your control, the play has to finish right there in either a goal, another corner kick or a goal kick.