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Defending set plays

Set plays are a good way to score goals so it is vital to improve your team’s ability to defend effectively from corners, wide free kicks and central free kicks.

What this session is about

  1.  Defending corners.
  2.  Defending wide free kicks.
  3.  Defending central free kicks.

What to think about

Set plays account for about 30% of goals scored in the English Premier League and at major tournaments such as the World Cup or European Championships. So your team’s ability to defend set plays effectively is very important.

However, when training you must be creative in how you defend set plays. One option is to use a second coach who works with the attacking team and gives players a variety of movements to try and disrupt your defenders and cause problems for them to solve.

Good organisation through simple set-ups and giving ownership to individuals to complete tasks is the most effective way of defending set plays.

Set-up

Warm upSessionDevelopmentsGame SituationWarm Down
10 minutes10-15 minutes15 minutes10-15 minutes10 minutes

What you get your players to do

Set up your players in the defensive formation, as shown in the top picture. The team will defend unopposed to begin with.

One player stands at each post. Player A stands on the near corner of the six-yard box. Player B is on the edge of the penalty area and is ready to go out to meet any short corners. Player B is also ready to counter attack quickly.

Player C is a forward that stays on the halfway line to force the attacking team to leave at least one player near him. The forward offers the goalkeeper a counter-attacking option.

Group D is a group of players who mark opponents in order of size and speed.

To progress, add an attacking team that can use short and long corners to try and score a goal.

Corner kicks: Organise your team to defend against corners. Players B and C can counter attack quickly.

Corner kicks: Organise your team to defend against corners. Players B and C can counter attack quickly.


Development

Set up your players as shown in the middle picture. Players A (full back) and B (winger) make up a twoplayer wall.

Player C stands in the space between the wall and the group of defenders (D). D must ensure it holds a high defensive line to allow the goalkeeper time and space to see the ball and come and catch the cross if possible. Player E is the forward who stays on the halfway line. Work on defending free kicks from both sides then against an attacking team.

Wide free kicks: It is important your defenders maintain a high line to make sure the keeper can see the ball and has more time to react.

Wide free kicks: It is important your defenders maintain a high line to make sure the keeper can see the ball and has more time to react.


Game situation

Set up your defenders, as shown in the bottom picture. Firstly, the goalkeeper and player A must line up the defensive wall. Player A links arms with the players in the wall and faces the goalkeeper to pull the wall into position. The wall should start one step outside the post to cover one side of the goal.

Player B is the full back on the near side of the kick. This full back stays outside to stop balls being played outside the wall for players making overlapping or dummy runs.

Group C consists of the remaining three defenders (opposite full back and two centre backs).

Player D is a midfielder that can be used as a fifth player in the wall or to run and block the free kick. Player E is the forward who stays on the halfway line.

If you reduce the time working on the types of set plays, you can play a small-sided game and restart play with a set play instead of a throw-in.

Central free kicks: Player A helps line up the wall and player D can be a fifth player in the wall or charge out to block the free kick.

Central free kicks: Player A helps line up the wall and player D can be a fifth player in the wall or charge out to block the free kick.


What to call out

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