Taking free kicks is an important skill that requires awareness of football tactics as well as sound technique. Free kicks provide an opportunity to control play, and around the penalty area they are goal scoring opportunities. The coach should plan several attacking set plays with his team, including free kicks from different angles, so that each player knows what he should be doing.
When taking free kicks around the penalty area, the fewer touches before shooting at goal the better. Teams and coaches should aim for a direct shot or a single pass before shooting, because set plays involving more than one pass allow plenty of time for the defense to organise and close down.
Here are some example plays:
- A direct shot around or over the wall.
- A pass to the side of the wall followed by a shot at goal.
- A chip over the wall towards the edge of the six yard box aiming for a player to head into goal.
Other tactics include decoy runs or late runs into the penalty area. For example, a player might run up to the ball as if to take the free kick himself, but step over the ball, and run into an attacking position looking for a pass. Another tactic is to put a player on the end of the wall, to disrupt the wall, or to move late to the side of the wall looking for a pass.
In the midfield, free kicks are opportunities to build an attack. Look to take the free kick quickly if there is a player with space, but otherwise allow time for your own team to push forward.
In defense, free kicks are similar to goal kicks with the choice of playing a short ball, or a long ball. This will depend on your team’s strength and tactics, but the ball should always be cleared from dangerous positions.