A well-executed set piece can be an absolute game-changer.
Just look at how lethal both Messi and Ronaldo have historically been from free kicks. Their success is not by accident. Both have put in countless hours and dedicated themselves to becoming the absolute best at what they do.
When it comes to set pieces, the number of successfully executed repetitions during training is what makes real game execution look like absolutely effortless.
There are different levels and types of set pieces, though. Each requires a different degree of creativity, synchronization, and even acting. Each requires different levels of involvement as well. Some set pieces, like the frequently seen shot on goal, only need one player. Other set pieces, like corner kicks, could involve the entire team. But one thing that every set piece has in common is the need for choreographing and rehearsing during training in order to achieve perfect execution in the real game.
The idea of training and rehearsing the details of set pieces falls perfectly in line with the rest of the 3four3 philosophy – specifically that players must be trained on how to execute exactly what is needed.
In some cases, players must be told exactly what blade of grass to stand on. This might seem obvious when teaching set pieces, but don’t be fooled, the benefits of training and rehearsing the smallest details can and should be done in all aspects of the game. That’s called tactics.
Training and rehearsing set pieces is not just about offense either. Just like a well-executed free kick can give you a win on the weekend – failing to prepare your team to defend against set pieces can be the cause of your team’s failure.
Again, this all boils down to the number of successful repetitions on the training field.
A coach recently sent me a text message asking for advice about defending corners. My first question to him was, “How often do you train defending corners?”
His answer… “Never.”
If your team never trains how to defend corners and then gets waxed on the weekend from a corner kick… well… what do you expect? If your team is not getting a shit-ton of repetitions during training to practice taking or defending free-kicks then you cannot expect them to be proficient in their execution.
So, as a coach, what can you change?
The message that I’m trying to hammer home here is that choreographing and training how to take and defend set-pieces can be the difference between a win and a loss. Don’t keep your players guessing. Don’t leave these moments up to chance. Don’t leave your players hanging.
This is a clear example of the game not being the best teacher.
You know who is the best teacher when it comes to set pieces, though? You.
So, take advantage of these opportunities to teach your players. Take advantage of these opportunities to set your team up for success.
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