INTRODUCING THE CORNER KICK – OFFENSE
When the defending team in soccer touches the ball over its own end line, either on the ground or in the air, the ball is out of play and the game is restarted by the attacking team with a “Corner Kick.” Review Coaching American Soccer “The Corner Kick – Law 17.” Coaches need to ensure that their players understand all aspects of this Law to take corner kicks on offense. Corner kicks are extremely significant because they represent an opportunity to execute a set play close to the opponent’s goal. Although studies have shown that goals resulting from corner kicks at the college and professional levels are relatively rare, any opportunity to score is significant and must be taken seriously. Successful corner kicks can win games.
The initial progression for introducing basic corner kick offense to young players is:
– Describe the fundamental components of Law 17
– Demonstrate the fundamental skills of a corner kick
– Introduce a corner kick play with designated positions
– Let everyone practice at all designated positions
– Demonstrate left-footed and left-side corner kicks
– Assign specific players to the designated positions and practice options
Describe the fundamental components of Law 17
Direct all players (and parents) to an area of the field next to the Goal Line at the right corner arc (as you face the goal you are “attacking”). Young players may be easily confused by the term “Goal Line.” It is suggested that coaches use the word “end-line,” but mention that it is technically called the “Goal Line,” and that it may also be called the “bi-line.”
– Point to the end-line, state specifically that, when a ball goes off a defender all the way over the end-line, it is put back into play with an action called a “corner kick.”
– Identify yourself as an “attacker” and a partner as a “defender.” You, or the defender, should wear a bib to make the distinction clear visually. Demonstrate kicking the ball off the defender and over the end-line.
– Demonstrate that, just like the sidelines (touchlines), the whole ball must go completely over the line to be out of bounds. Demonstrate both conditions for when it has gone over and when it has not gone over the end-line. Show that the ball must not be touched with the hands or picked up in anticipation of it going over the line, but must continue to be played in bounds until it does.
– Demonstrate that once the ball has gone off the defender and completely over the end line, the ball is taken to the nearest corner kick arc.
– Point to the corner kick arc and demonstrate placement of the ball within the arc.
– If a corner flag is available, make sure it is in place. If one is not available, place a cone or a coaching stake at the corner. If a cone is not available, use a disc. If a disc is not available, place anything unharmful at the corner, like a wadded-up shirt, to identify that an obstruction to kicking will be there. Demonstrate placement of the ball within the arc. It is recommended that the whole of the ball be placed within the arc nearest the arc’s intersection with the sideline.
Demonstrate the fundamental skills of a corner kick
Inform all players that you have placed the ball in its position within the corner kick arc for a “right-footed kick.” Inform the players that, until the ball is kicked, all defenders will have to stay at least 10-yards away in order to allow the kick to occur. Inform the players that once they kick the ball, they cannot kick it again until it has been kicked by someone else. Inform the players that they must not remove the corner flag at any time.
– Clearly demonstrate how to properly run up to the ball and, using an instep drive kick, strike the ball into the field of play. (The run-up at this stage should be over-emphasized to the point where it essentially represents a 45-degree bisector from the corner directly into the field.)
– Clearly demonstrate “what not to do,” with an improper run up to the ball, by striking the ball over the end line. (This run-up is an oblique angle to the corner and has the coach running toward the end line.)
– If you wish to do so, place a disc at the proper starting point of the run up.
– Collect the team balls, state that you are a defender, tap each ball in turn over the end line, and have each player collect the ball, place it in the corner arc, execute a proper run up, properly kick the ball into the field of play, get the ball and return.
Introduce a corner kick play with designated positions
Inform all players that you are now going to introduce a “corner kick play.” Like the kickoff, this represents a wonderful opportunity to reinforce the notion that, “yes, there are plays in soccer.” Inform the players that there will be three designated positions for the play: 1.) the corner taker, 2.) the receiver, and 3.) the cover man.
– Appoint the first corner taker and set them up properly with a ball at the corner arc.
– Appoint the first receiver and set them up 5-yards into the field of play, in line with the correct run-up, and facing the corner taker.
– Appoint the first cover man and set them up, facing the field of play, 5-yards from the corner arc, just inside the end line.
So everyone can hear, inform the corner taker that they are not to kick the corner kick to the cover man. Inform the cover man that they start there only to keep the corner kick from going out of bounds if it is miss-kicked. Have the corner taker kick the ball to the receiver. The receiver is then to turn the ball and head for the goal. The corner taker and the cover man are to then sprint deeper into the field of play (around and behind the receiver) for a possible pass.
Let everyone practice at all designated positions
After success has been achieved at designating positions and performing proper corner kicks, all players should be rotated through all of the positions.
Demonstrate left-footed and left-side corner kicks
To this point, the assumption has been made that the majority of the players are naturally “right-footed” and a right-footed corner kick from the right-side corner arc was demonstrated first. Coaches should now demonstrate left-footed and left-side corner kick fundamentals. This makes a total of four options:
– Right-footed kick, right corner arc
– Left-footed kick, right corner arc
– Left-footed kick, left corner arc
– Right footed kick, left corner arc
The right-footed kick at the right corner arc was used in the initial demonstration above. While still at the right corner arc, demonstrate the left-footed kick by placing the ball at the intersection of the arc with the end line. After doing so, move to the left corner arc. At the left corner arc, demonstrate the left-footed kick by placing the ball at the intersection of the arc and the sideline and then the right-footed kick by placing the ball at the intersection of the arc and the end line. Players should practice all options.
Assign specific players to the designated positions and practice options
In anticipation of games, coaches may now assign specific players to the corner kick positions. Once this is done, the corner kick play will need to be practiced with the designated players. A different group could be designated for the right and the left sides. Either before or after this is done, defenders – first passive and then active – should be added to make the kicks realistic. Similarly, depending on how fast the players catch on, additional passing options and discussion of the offside components of the Law can be introduced. As players become stronger and more accurate, more corner kick plays can be added.
– The Referee or the Assistant Referee should point to the correct corner arc to use. (This is usually easy to determine by the players unless the ball seems to have flown over the middle of the crossbar.)
– For games, the corner kick taker needs to also be informed that he must wait to take the kick until the referee acknowledges he is ready.
– As players become stronger, they can be encouraged to start kicking longer, lofted, balls from the corner arc.
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