Learn Soccer: What Is a Set Piece?
Defending a set piece is not easy. No matter the caliber of a defender, defending a set piece can be one of the hardest tasks when it comes to playing soccer.
What exactly is a set piece? A set piece occurs after the referee has stopped play for some particular reason. Perhaps the referee issued a foul to a player. Perhaps the ball went out of the field of play. In this particular case, there are several important scenarios that could occur:
- Free kick
- Corner kick
- Goal kick
- Penalty kick
When one of these situations happens, it is referred to as a set piece. If you're watching a match and there is a stoppage in play, it will result in one of those situations. Let's talk more about how each of these work:
A free kick is awarded to a team when the referee has stopped play due to a foul. A free kick can be either direct or indirect.
A direct free kick is issued for a team if a serious foul was committed by the opposing team, with scoring allowed directly from this kick. In this situation, the ball is placed where the foul occurred, unless of course it was committed within the box which would result in a penalty kick.
An indirect free kick is issued for a team when the offense is less serious, however, the ball must be touched by another player before a goal is allowed. More often than not, the majority of the indirect free kicks that you see will be the result of an offside call.
How does a team receive a corner kick? If the defending team was the last team to touch the ball, and the ball crosses the goal line, a corner kick occurs.
In this situation, a player on the offensive team will try and aim the ball into the middle of the offensive and defensive players (who will most likely be within the box and crowding the goalkeeper) in order to give the offense a chance at scoring. This situation is where you'll be see a lot of headed goals.
Unless you're Thierry Henry, who proved once proved in an MLS match that no teammates were required to score off of a corner kick.
The complete opposite of the corner kick is the goal kick. A goal kick is awarded when the last team to the touch the ball was the offensive team. At this point, the goalkeeper is allowed to take a kick from inside in his own area. No players from the opposition are allowed within the area during a goal kick.
The penalty kick is one of the most anticipated moments in a soccer match. It doesn't happen often, but when it does, the pressure is unparalleled.
While fouls that occur outside of the penalty area result in a direct free kick, fouls within the penalty area result in, you guessed it, a penalty kick. This kick pits one offensive player shooting from the penalty mark against a goalkeeper on the goal line.
What follows is a type of suspense that can't be matched in the sport of soccer.
The throw-in isn't quite as exciting as the previous set pieces, but it's still a neccessary part of the game. If a ball goes beyond the touch-line on the sides of the pitch, a throw-in is awarded to the team that did not touch it last.
There can be different variations in terms of how teams approach the throw-in, but the player throwing must face the field of play and typically involves a player throwing the ball from over his head. No goal can be scored directly from a throw-in.
This article is a part of Football.com's "Learn Soccer" series. Be sure to follow our series as we discuss all the important aspects of the game of soccer and give tips on how you can become a better player.