Responsibilities of a wall in soccer

by Ivan Bobanovic | Last updated

There are two main reasons why a wall is created in soccer:

  1. Create an obstacle for your opponent who is trying to shoot/cross
  2. Aid your goalie who has a large net to cover

When there is a free-kick within shooting range of the net, a goalie will usually instruct anywhere from 3-6 players to create a wall.  The walls job is to try to take away the option of shooting to one side of the net; the goalie covers the other side of the net.  Although there are many very talented free-kick takers who whip the ball around the wall and in, or over the wall and in, it is very difficult to execute effectively.

If the wall does its job, most times they force the opponent to either miss the target or hit the wall.  The problem is, walls don’t always do their job.  When a wall doesn’t do its job, the goalie is helpless because he/she are depending on the wall to hold to its responsibilities.

What do I mean when I say the wall does not hold to its responsibilities?  I mean the wall breaks.  The wall breaks for many reasons.  Some players leave the wall and rush the shooter; others jump and create a hole; some are afraid of being hit so they turn their backs; and worst of all, some see the ball coming at them and move out of the way.

If you thought this only happened at an amateur level, think again.  Watch here as Ronaldo of Real Madrid scores a free-kick that goes right through the wall.  The goalie can’t do anything.  If the wall kept to its responsibilities and did not budge, the ball would have hit the wall and the play would have resulted in a successful defensive stop.

Some tips:

  • When you are one of the members in the wall, do not move.
  • In order to avoid being hit in precious areas, cover your face with one arm and your private area with the other arm.
  • Make sure you are shoulder to shoulder with the players on either side of you and that you remain that way throughout.
  • If the ball is coming at you and you are going to be hit, take one for the team.  It might sting for a little but that’s the pain that comes with the game.

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