what is a set piece in soccer

What Is a Set Piece in Soccer? Understanding How Set Pieces are Used

You might wonder, “what is a set piece in soccer” if you are new to the game or are still learning the fundamentals of soccer.

A set piece, also known as a soccer set play, describes a situation during a soccer match where the ball is not in play but is about to return to the field of play. 

Set pieces typically refer to corner kicks, penalty kicks, throw-ins, goal kicks, and free kicks. The goal of the set piece is to advance the ball forward, so it can result in soccer players having a better chance of scoring.

When Are Set Pieces Used in Soccer?

Set pieces in soccer are used when the referee’s whistle is blown because a ball went out of bounds or there is a foul. The types of set pieces can be corner kicks, throw-ins, penalties, free kicks, or goal kicks. Set pieces are used to put the ball back into play after a stoppage or dead ball.

soccer throw in

What Are Throw-ins in Soccer?

A throw-in is the only soccer set piece that does not involve kicking the ball. A throw-in occurs when the soccer ball crosses the sideline or touchline, the longest line on the soccer field. The team that did not last touch the ball gets the throw-in. 

For a player to do a throw-in, they must ultimately keep their feet on the ground and bring the soccer ball back over their head. They must use both hands to throw the ball back into the field of play. Throw-in drills are often practiced during open play to prepare players for this situation in a game.

What Are Corner Kicks?

When the soccer ball goes out of bounds over the goal line and the defensive team is the last to touch the ball, the offensive team is given a corner kick. A corner kick is delivered from the left or right corner of the field of play. 

One set piece opportunity can be a left or right corner kick, depending on which side of the field the ball went out of bounds. The player performing the corner kick sends a cross to teammates for a chance to header the goal. 

A short corner kick can also occur if the player passes the ball to a teammate that is closer than 10 yards away. The defenders are working on trying to header it outside of the penalty box. 

What are Goal Kicks in Soccer?

A goal kick is the most simple kick for a set piece. The kicker’s purpose is usually to kick the ball as far away from the goal. The ball should be kicked into the area of the attacking team to resume the game and begin an attack. 

The soccer ball gets placed on the right or left side of the top of the goal line area, and it is the kicker’s choice on which side to kick the ball.

In youth soccer games, it can be simpler to pass to a defending team player that is close by since children can’t always generate enough power to kick the ball down the field. 

soccer set piece

What are Penalty Kicks?

A penalty kick in soccer is when a player is fouled inside the penalty area or if the defender committed a handball. The defender may be given a red or yellow card depending on the severity of the violation. 

A penalty kick differs from a free kick because it is a one-on-one kick between the person taking the penalty kick and the goalie. The soccer ball is set in a white circle 12 yards away from the goal area line.

Once the referee blows their whistle, the player doing the penalty kick runs up the soccer ball and kicks it, trying to score past the goalkeeper.

The play restarts from the midway line if the player scores a goal. If they miss, the game resumes from that moment, depending on if the ball was saved or went out of bounds. 

What Are the Two Types of Free Kicks?

There are two types of free kicks used in soccer since various situations can occur. 

Direct Kicks

Direct free kicks are common, as these types of kicks are called from a handball or a contact foul.

Indirect Kicks

One or more soccer players must touch indirect kicks before being put on the net, which differs from direct kicks. Direct kicks can be shot on the net.

There are various outcomes of free kicks in soccer, as they can be called anywhere on the field of play. A direct free kick and an indirect free kick is an opportunity for a soccer team to restart the game while possessing the ball after an offense is committed by the opposing team. 

set piece in soccer

Who Are the Best Set Piece Specialists in the 2022 World Cup?

There are multiple set piece specialists to look out for in the World Cup 2022. You should watch for the following:

  • Lionel Messi - Argentina
  • Luka Modric - Croatia
  • Kevin De Bruyne - Belgium
  • Cristiano Ronaldo - Portugal
  • Trent Alexander Arnold - England
  • Neymar Jr. - Brazil

Final Thoughts

Now that you understand what set pieces in soccer are, you are ready to begin practicing throw-ins, goal kicks, penalty kicks, corner kicks, and free kicks. To improve your soccer skills, check out the Open Goaaal 3-in-1 soccer trainer today.

Pass it on

Pass it on