What is a Set Piece in Soccer? The Art of Planned Moves

You’ve seen it a million times on TV or at a match. The ball is lofted into the box, and a player rises up to meet it with their head, looking to direct it into the back of the net.

But what you might not know is that this scenario is known as a set piece in soccer.

It’s time to give you a crash course on set pieces so that you impress your pals with your knowledge and make it a winning part of your game too.

Let’s kick off!

What is a set piece in soccer?

A set piece in soccer happens when there’s a restart of play following a stoppage.

It’s a pre-planned move designed to score a goal or to create a good scoring opportunity. Set pieces are usually used when the team has a free kick or a corner kick but throw-ins and penalties can be set pieces too.

They’re an opportunity for teams to score goals from long range or to create chances from crosses.

There are many different types of set pieces, and each team will have their own favourite moves that they practice regularly.

What counts as a set piece in soccer?

Set pieces are an important part of the game of soccer, and teams that can execute them well often have an advantage over their opponents. They’re also known as a ‘set play’ or ‘dead ball’ as the ball is not moving.

There are three main types of set pieces: throw-ins, corners, and free kicks. Penalties are set pieces too. Let’s take a closer look at each one.

free kick set piece women football

Free Kicks 

A free kick can be either direct or indirect.

A direct free kick means that a goal can be scored directly from that kick – an indirect free kick means that a goal can only be scored if someone else touches it before it goes into the net (so an indirect free kick usually results in a pass to another teammate).

A free kick is awarded if a foul is committed by either team – fouls can include things like kicking, tripping, pushing, etc.

If a direct free kick is awarded inside of an opponent’s penalty area, then it’s called a penalty kick (but that’s another story for another day!).

All players from both teams must stay at least 10 yards away from where a free kick is being taken until it’s been kicked – this includes being behind or even with either goal line.

corner kick set piece women football


A corner kick is taken when the ball goes out of bounds behind the goal line after being touched by an offensive player (i.e., it’s been “cornering”).

The defensive team then gets to take a corner kick from inside the corner arc nearest to where the ball went out of bounds.

All opposing players must be at least 10 yards away from where the corner kick is being taken – this includes being behind or even with the goal line.

The kicker cannot touch the ball again until it has been touched by another player (from either team). 

Corners can be dangerous because there’s a lot of space for the attacking team to put pressure on the defending team and to swing the ball into the box. 

football throw in set piece women football


A throw-in is taken when the ball has gone out of bounds on the sidelines. The team that did not touch the ball last will take the throw-in.

The player taking the throw-in must have both feet on the ground behind or on the line when they make contact with the ball.

They can use both hands to throw the ball, but they cannot touch it again until another player has touched it.

The ball must be thrown from behind and over their head – it cannot be rolled along the ground.

After a throw-in is taken, opposing players must stay at least two yards away from the person taking the throw-in until they release the ball. 

Throw-ins are usually quite straightforward, but they can be used to create good attacking opportunities if done well.

penalty women football


A penalty kick is awarded if a direct free kick is committed by either team inside of their own penalty area.

The penalty kick is taken from 12 yards away from the goal, and all other players must stay outside of the penalty area and at least 10 yards away from where the ball is being kicked.

The goalkeeper must have at least part of one foot touching the goal line when the ball is kicked.

The kicker cannot touch the ball again until it has been touched by another player (from either team). Penalty kicks are usually very high-pressure situations, as they’re often decisive in close games.

Watch and learn: What is an example of a set piece?

Here’s a great video that shows you examples of set pieces, how their planned, carried out and the strategy behind them! We’ve tried a few of these at Kit Queen!

Is a goal kick a set piece?

A goal kick is not a set piece, but it’s still an important part of the game.

A goal kick is taken by the goalkeeper when the ball goes out of bounds behind the goal line after being touched by an offensive player.

The goalkeeper can choose to either punt or drop-kick the ball – if they punt it, then they can not touch it again until it has been touched by another player (from either team). If they drop-kick it, then they can play it as if it were a normal soccer ball.

All opposing players must be outside of the penalty area and at least 10 yards away from where the ball is being kicked.

The kicker cannot score directly from a goal kick, but their team-mates can put pressure on the opposing team and try to win the ball back. 

What counts as a set piece goal?

A set piece goal is a goal that is scored from a standing position, usually from a free kick or corner kick.

Set pieces are an awesome way to score goals, as they provide an opportunity for players to put the ball into the net without having to worry about being tackled by the opposing team.

There are a few different ways that a set piece goal can be scored.

For example, players can choose to shoot the ball directly into the net, or they can opt to pass it to a teammate who is in a better position to score.

Set pieces are often also create opportunities for headers, which can be very effective at finding the back of the net.

Whatever method is used, scoring a set piece goal is always an impressive feat – and pretty amazing to watch!

Why are they called set pieces?

The term “set piece” is believed to have originated in England, where the game of soccer first began.

In early versions of the game, there were no set rules or regulations. As the game evolved, teams began to develop their own strategies and tactics.

One common tactic was to use set pieces as a way to score goals. The term “set piece” likely originates from this early era of the game.

While set pieces are now an integral part of soccer, they have come a long way since their humble beginnings!

what is a set piece in football infographic Up to 35% of goals scored over a season come from set pieces. But only 2.2% of set pieces result in a goal.

Does a corner count as a set piece?

There’s no disputing that a corner kick is one of the most exciting moments in soccer. But does a corner actually count as a set piece? Yes it does.

According to FIFA’s Laws of the Game, a corner kick “is awarded when the whole of the ball crosses the line out of play over the goal line, on the fly and after last being touched by an opponent.”

So technically, a corner is a set piece because it’s taken from a static position.

Many teams use set pieces to try and score from corners. This typically involves one player taking the corner kick, while their teammates make run to specific positions in the box.

The kicker then tries to place the ball into an area where their teammates can get on the end of it and score.

It’s certainly an exciting moment in any match. And who knows, with a little bit of luck (and some good planning), your team might just be able to score from one!

How to score from a set piece top tips!

Set pieces are prime scoring chances—if you know what you’re doing! Here are some top tips for how to score from a set piece.

1.Know Your Role

The first step to scoring from a set piece is understanding what your role is on the team.

Are you the designated free kick taker? Are you the target woman/man on corner kicks? Or are you responsible for delivering the ball into the box on set pieces?

Knowing your role will help you understand what you need to do in order to be successful.

2. Stay Calm and Collected

When it comes time to take the set piece in a game, it’s important that you stay calm and collected.

If you let nerves get the best of you, it will impact your performance. Take a few deep breaths and trust in your ability and your teammates to smash it home.

3. Create a Distraction

When the ball is about to be played into the box on a corner kick, free kick, or even a throw-in, create a distraction by running toward the goalkeeper or another defender.

This will force them to pay attention to you instead of the ball, and open up space for your teammates to make a run toward goal.

4. Time Your Run

If you’re making a run toward goal, timing is everything. Start your run too early and the defenders will see you coming.

But if you wait too long, you won’t have enough time to get into position to score. The key is to start your run at the last possible second, so the defenders don’t have time to react.

5. Practice, Practice, Practice

As with anything in life, practice makes perfect when it comes to scoring from a set piece.

If you’re the free kick taker, make sure you spend time working on your technique so that you can deliver the ball into the danger zone with precision.

If you’re responsible for delivering the ball into the box, work on your crossing ability so that you can put the ball right where your teammates need it.

The more time you spend practicing, the better your chances of success will be when it comes time to perform in a game situation.

The final score.

Set pieces are an important part of soccer and can often decide who ends up winning or losing a match.

By understanding what each set piece is and how they work, you’ll be able to follow along with even the most complex matches.

So, there you have it – everything you need to know about set pieces! We hope this article has helped clear things up for you and give you a top tip or two.

Now that you’re an expert on set pieces, go out and score some goals!

This article was written & reviewed by

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