What is a Set Piece in Soccer? (Know in Details)

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Have you ever seen a soccer player lace up their cleats for a free kick? Chances are that there might have been a set piece in soccer. Don’t know what a set piece is? 

A set piece is when a soccer ball is not in play but will return to play shortly. Instances of set pieces include penalty kicks, throw-ins, corner kicks, free kicks, and goal kicks. 

Want to know more? Keep scrolling because I’ll be discussing set pieces in detail. 

What is a Set Piece in Soccer?

The term “set piece” refers to a situation during a match where the ball is not in play. 

This can be because of any stoppage in play. Usually, it happens by the end of a half, during a foul, or when the ball goes out of bounds.

Set pieces occur in every soccer game, and teams can greatly benefit from it. Because players in the rush of the game end up committing some fouls. And as a result, a set piece happens. Either way, one or the other team benefits from it. 

Importance of Set Pieces in Soccer

Set pieces can help a team strategize if they would rather prioritize defense or offense. Likewise, within each set piece, there are certain elements that need to be analyzed, such as the location or area of the set piece. 

Set pieces allow teams to exploit strategic advantages that are meticulously planned by coaches. Moreover, in tight matches where a single goal can determine the outcome, a well-executed set piece can level the score or completely alter the game’s trajectory, even against the most formidable opponents.

Plus, a set piece can help a team defend the goal so the other party does not score.

Types of Set Pieces

As I mentioned earlier, there are different types of set pieces in soccer. Each is important and has the ability to make or break the game.

These set pieces include free kicks, corner kicks, penalty kicks, throw-ins, and goal kicks. Below, I explain all 5 in detail. 

What are Free Kicks?

Free kicks are given to the opposite party when the ball leaves the designated area. This gives the opposing team an unplanned kick where the foul happened. These kicks can be direct or indirect.

What are Corner Kicks?

Corner kicks happen when the ball goes over the goal line, and a player on the defending team is the last to touch it. In this case, the offensive team is given a corner kick. 

The kick is delivered from the side of the field in which the ball went out.

The corner-kick taker sends a cross to their teammates for a chance to score using a header while the defenders try to header it out of their penalty box.

What are Soccer Penalty Kicks?

Penalty kicks in soccer are a big deal. These happen when there’s a foul inside the penalty box, or a defender commits a handball in the penalty box. It’s just you, the kicker, and the goalie facing off, no walls or distractions. 

The ball’s placed 12 yards from the goal line inside a white circle. When the referee blows the whistle, it’s a race to see if the kicker can score while the goalie tries to protect the net. 

These kicks can be game-changers that are full of pressure and excitement.

What are Throw-ins in Soccer?

A throw-in is when the ball is brought back into play after it has been kicked out of bounds. The team that didn’t kick the ball out of the field gets the throw-in. 

It has to be done within two yards of the place where the soccer ball crossed the touchline. 

What are Goal Kicks In Soccer?

A goal kick is played when the ball has left the field after crossing the goal line. This happens when a goal is not scored. The referee then awards the defending team a goal kick. 

This happens if the ball was last touched by a player on the opposing team. A goal kick needs to be played within the goal area.

6 Top Set Piece Specialists in Soccer at the Moment

Keep an eye on these World Cup players if a set piece opportunity arises:

  • Lionel Messi (Argentina), the master of free kicks, bends the ball to his wishes and gets exact pinpoint aim.   
  • Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal), CR7, needs no introduction. Even if you don’t know soccer, chances are you’ve still heard of him. His power and accuracy make him a danger on any set piece, be it a free-kick or a header in the box.
  • Neymar Jr. (Brazil) has great dribbling skills that often earn him free kicks. His kicks seem to be second nature and boast incredible accuracy.
  • Kevin De Bruyne (Belgium) is a set-piece master and a nightmare for the defenders. His corner and free kicks are unbelievable. 
  • Trent Alexander (Arnold, England) is a gem of England. His precision for free kicks and corners garners scores for his team. 
  • Luka Modrić (Croatia) possesses vision and techniques that are impeccable. He’s a master at passing to teammates, making him a set-piece maestro.

But hold onto your cleats because there’s more! 

These guys are like the Harry Potters of the soccer world, ready to conjure up some magical moments when the stakes are high. 


There you have it, folks! The lowdown on set pieces in soccer, from those heart-stopping penalty kicks to the artistry of free kicks, corners, throw-ins, and goal kicks. 

Set pieces are like those moments of suspense in your favorite movie – you never quite know what’s going to happen, but you can’t look away. They’re where strategy meets skill and where a single play can change the course of a game.

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