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Defend the corner

Teach your players how to organise themselves to defend a corner, which areas to defend and how to quickly execute counter attacks when clearing the ball. This session can be adapted for mini soccer, intermediate or 11v11 adult football.

What this session is about

1. Defending a corner kick.
2. Taking up good defensive positions.
3. Applying quick counter attacks.

What to think about

In the English Premier League, almost one in three goals comes as a result of a corner or free kick. This statistic is a great insight into the small margins between winning, drawing and losing a match.

Any team can be effective and score goals from set plays, regardless of their level, compared to the opponent they face. This means set plays are a big leveller in games and a situation where anything is possible.

Having a simple, set organisation that all players understand will make your team effective at defending set plays and reduce the chances of your team conceding goals.

Set-up

Organise your team in various defensive sets to defend corners. If the team clears the ball upfield, it must quickly react and counter attack to try and score in the opposite goal.

This initial practice is unopposed.

Set 1 – Zonal defending (as shown in the top picture) The team lines up with a full back on each post. One player stands in front of the near post. Four players line up across the six-yard box. Three players line up level with the penalty spot.

Set 2 – Man to man The team lines up with a full back on each post. One player stands in front of the near post. Five players mark opposition players individually. One player stands on the edge of the 18-yard box and another stays upfield – ready to counter attack.

Set 3 – Your choice You and your team decide on which set-up is best for particular situations. It can be a mixture of both or a new set-up of your own.

Warm upSessionDevelopmentsGame SituationWarm Down
10 minutes15 minutes15 minutes15 minutes5 minutes

What you get your players to do

Set 1 – Zonal defending (as shown in the top picture) The team lines up with a full back on each post. One player stands in front of the near post. Four players line up across the six-yard box. Three players line up level with the penalty spot.

Set 2 – Man to man The team lines up with a full back on each post. One player stands in front of the near post. Five players mark opposition players individually. One player stands on the edge of the 18-yard box and another stays upfield – ready to counter attack.

Set 3 – Your choice You and your team decide on which set-up is best for particular situations. It can be a mixture of both or a new set-up of your own.

Use pre-set formations to take up defensive positions for corners.

Use pre-set formations to take up defensive positions for corners.


Development

To progress, add an attacking team that starts by taking a corner.

Once the corner is taken, the game continues until the ball has left play. Then the teams return to the starting position to defend/attack a new corner kick from the opposite flank.

The attacking team must use different types of corner (short, long, near post, far post, etc.)

Make sure offside rules are used and swap positions and team roles regularly.

The defending team thwarts a corner and counter attacks immediately.

The defending team thwarts a corner and counter attacks immediately.


Game situation

The two teams must play a small-sided game. The following rules apply:

  • If a goal is scored, the team scoring the goal is also awarded a corner kick.
  • If a defending team manages to clear a corner and then counter attack to score, then they are awarded two goals.
  • Place a ball in each corner just off the pitch and award a corner rather than a throw-in if the ball leaves play in the opponent’s half of the field.

These rules ensure teams have repetition of defending corners in a game situation.

In a small-sided game, corners are awarded rather than throw-ins.

In a small-sided game, corners are awarded rather than throw-ins.


What to call out

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