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Set-Plays Combinations

Set Pieces are an important element in any team’s ability to score from the opportunities provided by corner kicks and free kicks. More than a third of all goals in the professional game are scored from set plays. It is often mentioned that a large percentage of goals arise from “dead ball” situations. However, many teams do not devote the necessary time and practice in training to improve their set-piece play. This is especially important as these situations arise regularly throughout a match and it makes sense to improve the prospects of making the most of them.

The main aim of practising dead-ball situations is to improve the creation of a scoring opportunity and to increase the team’s chances of scoring directly. Training should concentrate on:

  • Choosing the best possible set-play combination: The team must decide which combination to use, depending on the particular situation and the players available. The specific combination should only require players to concentrate on carrying out the actions practised in training and should always be chosen pre-match.
  • Specific Training: Players who are to be involved in set-piece play are chosen by the coach for specific training sessions where the moves will be carried out in great detail. These sessions will concentrate on perfecting the timing of player movements in relation to the kick.

Finally, coaches should be careful when trying to introduce variety in their set-play situations. The best variety is taking an already successful set-play and varying it to keep opponents guessing. Introducing many different plays can confuse players and make them forget the basics of their play. The set-play situation should above all, be simple and direct.

In this part of our football program we will present some combinations and ideas to make space or to score from corner kicks, free kicks and throw-ins.


1A) Here is a first example of a lateral free-kick which in our practice is quite simple and very effective:

1B) A second example is shown by Maribor U19 team scoring against Veržej in a U19 Cup match. This combination is not so simple and requires a perfect timing and good technical players.