Set piece revisited: direct free kick

Anyone remember this? Probably not since 90% of you are really just here for the HPL conversation!

Regardless, it’s one of two set pieces for direct free kicks that my U16 girls team use and we finally had a chance to put them into practice. Eight days ago, we got a free kick a full 30 yards out, dead centre. It was too far to expect a 15 year old to score (on a very good Burnaby Girls keeper as well) so we set up this free kick to try to (a) screen the keeper’s view and (b) give our poacher the best chance of getting to the ball first.

Our player then proceeded to hit the ball like I’ve never seen a 15 year old girl hit a ball before and put it in the top corner laser beam style. Keeper didn’t move. The sidelines were stunned. Poacher is now out of work looking for a new gig.

Fast forward to yesterday. Another free kick from too far out dead centre. This one’s three yards closer but the girl who hit the laser is on the bench at the time (I know, bad coaching…) I tell my daughter to take it and one of our usually more savvy players to be the poacher who starts halfway between the ball and the wall. She’s obviously forgotten her role though and stands on the end of the wall. I shout to her, “Remember the free kick we do from here?” She adjusts to an equally incorrect position. “You’re the poacher, remember?” Still nothing. So my kid then hits almost a carbon copy of the goal last week and it goes in.

What I learned:

  1. Don’t spend too much time thinking up and working on free kicks unless you’re going to do a lot of follow up so they remember the roles.
  2. Come up with key words to say in case they still forget.
  3. It’s still a good set piece and doesn’t become obsolete just because we scored directly from two in a row.
  4. These girls are getting stronger every week and can hit scorchers from further than I give them credit.
  5. Simple is still the best policy for set pieces with kids.
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6 Responses to Set piece revisited: direct free kick

  1. Larry says:

    Gregor, we’re still reading despite the huge attention to HPL.

    Our team scored on a well taken free kick from about 25 yards this weekend. The ball was over the wall and into the top corner. The way the defending team lined up, a slip pass to the side would have probably been the choice at an adult level. Your 5 points pretty much hits it on the nail.

  2. James says:

    I had a similar situation with my u15 girls in a cup game yesterday. My girls were down 1-0 midaway throught the second half in a must win to advance. I have gone over your set piece for all of ten minutes at a training session midweek and they all seemed to understand their positioning and intent of the piece, that is until it came up in a game. The player struck the ball like I had never seen her strike it before and it resulted in the tieing goal that led to 2 more for a 3-1 win but I think it was the confusion that my girls created that had the north shore team befuddled. My poachers were 4 feet apart, ran sideways and two girls were standing over the ball. It was quite a mess really but was saved with an exceptional strike.

    Thanks for the tip

    • Gregor says:

      Hi James,

      They all count don’t they? And just as I said to Fred below that players should always like they meant to do it, coaches can always act like everything that comes off in the end was intentional too!

  3. Fred Cutler says:

    Same here, Craig Lawrence from nearly 30 yds at U12. Nicked crossbar and fell in. And that’s with the U12 goals that are pretty tiny when occupied by a large 11 yr old keeper.
    I asked him afterward what he was trying to do with it.
    Fred: “Were you trying to score?
    Craig: “Sort-of”.
    Fred: “You can’t ‘sort-of” try to score. Either you were hitting it on goal or trying to drop it between penalty spot and 6 yd box.”.
    Craig: shrugs shoulders.
    end of conversation.

    We lost 4-2 to a once-a-year cross-shot lobbing in over the keeper into the far corner.

    • Gregor says:

      That’s funny.

      I made the counter-productive mistake once when I asked one of my girls if they’d meant to do something and when they hesitated I told them the correct answer whenever a coach asks you that is to say “Of course I meant to” and look dismissively at them.

      Now they do that to me so I’ve pretty much stopped asking them.

  4. RR says:

    All good observations/findings. But for those with a taste for the more exotic:

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