Soccer coaching tips for zonal defending on corners

Why leave defending corners to chance when, with a bit of organisation, you can improve your team’s chances of keeping the ball out of the back of the net? Use these zonal defending soccer coaching tips to help.

Like any set-play in the defending third, corner kicks against your team are dangerous, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t steps you can take to reduce the threat of conceding a goal…

Zonal defending soccer drill tips

There are three ways of defending corners: zonal defending, man-to-man and a combination of these two, but whatever system you choose, every player should have a job to do.

In zonal defending, give your defenders an area to cover, and if the ball reaches them, it is up to them to clear it.

Here is a list of jobs they can do:

  • Protect the posts. Two players, perhaps your least-effective headers, can be placed on each post to clear shots off the line that beat the keeper, and cover the keeper if they attempt to punch or catch the ball.
  • Stand on the six. The better headers should be on the six-yard line. Put three players here, one each opposite the posts and one opposite the centre of the goal, who should be the best header in the team.
  • Double up. A further three players can be positioned in a similar arrangement but between the six- and 18-yard lines.
  • Disrupt the kicker. One defender stands 10 yards from the player taking the corner kick to prevent the ball from being driven to the near post, or tries to block the kick by jumping, so forcing the attacker to play the ball differently. This defender also applies pressure should the attacking team try a ‘short corner’, where the kicker passes the ball to a nearby teammate, who crosses the ball.
  • Reinforce the near post area. Add an extra defender in the six-yard box, outside the near post and few yards from the goal-line to guard against dangerous ‘flick-ons’.
  • Lead the counter-attack. Leave a target, possibly a shorter, faster player, say near the halfway line so when the ball is cleared they can hold it to allow team-mates to get out. A second player can also be left up, for example, between the penalty box and the halfway line.
  • Keep the ball out. Finally, the goalkeeper should stand in a position where they can see the ball and as much of the penalty area as possible, which will mean a little forward from the goal line near the middle of the goal. They have to decide early whether or not to challenge for the ball by catching or punching.

Soccer coaching tips and drill for zonal defending

Click here for man-to-man soccer tactics to use in defending corners.

Click here to order a copy of Perfect Defending, which has a series of soccer drills aimed at developing defending skills.


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