|Many youth soccer coaches get very nervous when
team concedes a corner.
They know that in a few seconds time the ball will be whizzing across the box and their defenders will either (a) duck
out of the way or (b) swing a foot at the ball and miss it. And no one
will be marking the opposition striker who calmly taps the ball into
the back of the net.
But there is plenty you can do – even with the
players – to reduce your stress levels when the ref points to the
First of all, you need to decide if you want your
to mark the opposition man to man (sorry girls) or defend zonally,
that is, ignore the opposition and put your players into key parts of the
Most teams that use zonal defending split the
area into several areas: the near post, the middle of the six yard box,
the far post and two or three areas between the six yard box and the
edge of the penalty area.
The theory is that these are the areas where most
are scored from following a corner and if you can control these areas
you will stop the opposition from scoring.
This may work with older, confident players but, in
experience, it's not a good method to use with young players. Man-to-man
marking works better and it's a lot easier to explain.
To man mark effectively, your players need to make
they pick up one opposition player each... and stay with them. This
requires good communication between the defending players and the
person in charge – your goalkeeper.
The goalkeeper needs to understand that it's part of
job to organise the outfield players at corners. They should tell them
who to mark, "Lucy, get the number 7, Ami get the number 9", and watch
out for opposition players who try to creep into the box unobserved.
I tell my players they must keep their
facing our goal and they must not take their eyes off the player they are
marking. They need to keep within two feet of their mark at all times
and ALWAYS stay between the striker and our goal. The worst mistake a
defender can make at a corner is to let the player they are marking get
away or get ahead of them.
we put a player on the goalposts?
The purpose of "marking" the goal posts is to make
goal smaller. This is a sensible move when playing 11-a-side as the
goalkeeper can't reach both posts from the middle of the goal. But in
youth football the goals are small and putting players on the posts is a
waste of resources.
In any case, your goalkeeper should be intercepting
ball that comes into the "hot area" just in front of the goal and the
sooner they learn to do that, the better.
A good way to practise this is to use two goals,
a normal position and the second touching the far post and at right
angles to it. The goal should look like the letter 'L'. Now take some
corners. The goalkeeper has to protect both goals and is encouraged to
come off their line to get the ball.
Putting one of your taller players on the line
the goal and the corner flag will often put the player taking the
corner kick off their job completely. They should also be able to block
any low, fast corners that are directed straight at your
forget the short corner!
A short corner – where the ball is passed to a
standing close to the corner flag who either plays it back to the
corner taker or crosses/shoots themselves – is a very effective tactic in
youth soccer and your defenders need to stay alert to the threat posed
If an opposition player runs to receive a
corner, your players need to close them down quickly. This may mean
leaving players unmarked in the box but it's essential that the short
corner is neutralised.
least one player upfield
It's important to have at least one player (and
preferably two) waiting upfield to receive the ball from your
defenders. If you get everyone back to defend the corner,
counter attacking becomes virtually impossible.
stop the "duckers" and the "swing and miss"
It's no use teaching your players how to defend
if they are afraid or unable to deal with the ball when it comes to
Defenders who duck out of the way as a well-taken
comes across the box are a common sight at U9 and U10 level. They are scared that
the ball might hurt them. So you need to show them that the ball ("it's
only a bag of air!") won't hurt... providing they use their heads
So as soon as your players are old enough to strike
corner into the box at head height, they need to learn how to head it