What is a Set-Piece in Soccer? The Complete Guide

What is a Set Piece in Soccer? The Complete Guide

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There are many different ways soccer teams can score goals in a match. They can be from individual brilliance or a well-worked team goal and then there are what they call set-pieces. They are a very different way of scoring in soccer and if you have the right players over the ball, then they can be deadly.

In this article, we will have a look at everything that a set piece entails. From what exactly a set piece is to what it means and all the different types of set pieces that can occur throughout a match. If you are looking to expand your knowledge regarding set-pieces then read on as we are going to cover everything you need to know when it comes to set pieces in soccer.

A set-piece in soccer occurs when there is a stoppage in play from either a foul on a player or that the soccer ball has gone out of bounds. Set pieces range from goal kicks, corner kicks, throw-ins, penalties, and free kicks. Each of these will occur after the referee has blown his/her whistle and they are also called a dead ball situation as the match is stopped because of a foul or ball going out of bounds.

What is a set piece in soccer?

As we mentioned above, a set piece in soccer can mean a variety of different things. For example, when a player is taken down in the box and is awarded a penalty, that is seen as a set piece because the ball is stationary. Another one is when a player is fouled inside the field of play by another player and a free kick is awarded.

Normally they are dangerous when the foul occurs near the penalty box as the player standing over the “dead ball” can either cross it into the box for his teammates to attack or he can go for a goal himself.

A corner kick is another set piece that occurs in soccer and for teams that have some height, they can be very useful if the delivery is right. A corner kick is awarded when a defender or any player from a team is last to touch the ball and it goes out of bounds behind the goal between the corner flag and the goals. A high number of goals can come from a set piece like a corner kick if the delivery is right and it can be a major weapon in a side’s arsenal.

What does set piece mean?

The phrase set-piece, dead ball, or set play is used in soccer and it refers to a specific situation when the soccer ball is returned to open play after a stoppage, normally in teams attacking area on the pitch.

In soccer, the term is used when a team has a free kick or a corner kick and refers to penalties and throw-ins as well. Numerous goals can be scored from these set pieces whether they have scored directly from the spot for example a free kick or indirectly. A team’s defensive organization is critical when defending set-pieces and it is why so much time is spent on the training ground to perfect them.

Set pieces are an area of the game where teams can have a significant advantage over the opposition as numerous routines and tactics can be used to get the best possible result. Often teams have a player or two who specialize in set pieces so that they can take full advantage of the situation.

Different types of set pieces in soccer

1. Corner kick

What is a Set-Piece in Soccer? The Complete Guide

When the soccer ball goes out of play over the goal line and a defender is the last player to touch it, a corner kick is then given to the attacking team. The ball is then placed on the corner, near the corner flag so the ball can then be crossed into the box and these are a valuable weapon for the attacking team to try and score.

It gives the attacking team a free shot at crossing the ball into the box so that a teammate can head the ball into the net. Normally because defenders are bigger than attackers, the team attacking will often target its defenders for headers at goal. The only thing that the attacking team has to worry about is getting caught on the counter-attack as most of their players are in the penalty box trying to score.

2. Goal Kick

What is a Set-Piece in Soccer? The Complete Guide

A goal kick is awarded when the soccer ball goes over the end line and the last player to touch it was an attacking player. The soccer ball is then placed in what is known as the goal box and the goalkeeper is then tasked with putting the ball back into play, usually kicking long to their team’s forwards or they can play it short to their defenders so that they can build from the back to create a shot on goal.

3. Throw-in

What is a Set-Piece in Soccer? The Complete Guide

A throw-in will be awarded when the soccer ball goes out of the field of play on the sidelines o touchlines as they are also called and the team that did not touch the ball last is then awarded the throw-in. Aside from a goalkeeper, this represents the only time when a soccer play is allowed to touch the ball with their hands and pick it up.

4. Free Kick

What is a Set-Piece in Soccer? The Complete Guide

When a foul occurs on the field a free kick is awarded. Depending on where on the pitch the foul occurs, the team that is awarded the free kick can simply play the ball on to his/her teammate to keep the game moving. On the other hand if a foul occurs near the goal, then the attacking team has the option to shoot at the goal.

Some players have become specialists in shooting at goal from free kicks and they can be classified as direct or indirect free kicks.

5. Penalties 

What is a Set-Piece in Soccer? The Complete Guide

A penalty is awarded when an attacking player is fouled in the box and it a valued commodity in the game of soccer. It presents the attacking team with a “free” shot at the goal with a very high chance of scoring. They are extremely valuable to sides during a match.