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Corner kick formations are something that many coaches rarely go over with their players yet these can be some of the most dangerous situations in a game, offensively and defensively.  With that being said here are some guidelines that all players should know about corner kick formations.

The first thing that needs to be clarified is if your coach wants you man-marking or playing zone defense.  Once this is established you can then proceed accordingly.

Zone marking

Defending corner kick:  Here are some basic formations that will ensure your team is solid in defending a corner kick.

  • There always needs to be a player on the near post and the far post.
  • Have a player standing on the penalty spot marking this area.
  • Have a player the same distance as the penalty spot but positioned about 6 yards closer to the corner (where the corner is being taken from) in relation to the player on the penalty spot.
  • Have a player the same distance as the penalty spot but positioned about 6 yards further from where the corner is being taken from – in relation to the player on the penalty spot.
  • Have two players guarding the area at the top of the 18 yard box, spaced out approximately 10 yards apart
  • This way each player is guarding a radius of about 5-6 feet around them.


  • The taller players should be in the penalty spot area
  • The shorter players can either mark the front or back posts, or mark at the top the 18 yard box
  • All clearances should be cleared wide of the net and 18 yard box.  Anything that is cleared to the top of the box (even 35 yards out) can result in a direct shot on net or another dangerous ball being delivered in the penalty area.  Be sure to clear the ball wide.

Offensive corner kick formation.  There are many variations to attacking here but here are a few.

  • The kicker should indicate if he will kick the ball as an “in-swinger” or “out-swinger.”  In-swinging corners are more dangerous for the defense to handle and easier for the offensive players to connect on.
  • Another way of attacking on a corner kick is when all the players can stay at the top of the box at the far side. Right when the ball is about to be delivered, all players at the top of the box rush to the penalty spot.  The speed and numbers of players can often be too difficult to handle resulting in trouble for the defense.
  • Sometimes these are predictable so all the defenders stay in the area.  A simple decoy here is to deliver the ball at the top of the box where the players were originally standing (before they ran in) where one player stays behind for a direct shot on net.  Watch video of Arjen Robben of Bayern Munich score off a corner kick versus Manchester United.


  • The ball should be taken as an in-swinger.  They should be struck hard and with pace.  Hitting the ball high is a wasted opportunity.  Not only is it difficult to connect with power on a header or shot but these crosses often lead to injuries when multiple players collide trying to reach the ball first.
  • Indicate whether it will be a first post or second post corner.  Use arm signals for this.
  • If trying to get the ball away from the goalie, it should land on the penalty spot.  This way it is far enough that if he comes off his line he will expose more of the net than he’d like.  If you connect on it after running in from the top of the box you’ll have be able to generate much power and potentially score.


  • pjp says:

    I say out-swinging kick is best… it’s going away from the goalie and towards the the on-coming offensive players to maximize the header strength.

  • Deana says:

    My son play U9 competitive soccer. He is mainly defense, and his coach plays 2defenders, 3 mid and 1 on top.
    My son wants to know which of the defenders can come up to support the play on a corner. The defender on the side of the corner or the opposite side?

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