Free-kick routines


Final third


Balls, goals

No. of players

20 plus 1 keeper

Session time

10mins per free-kick routine

This session looks at maximising the potential of scoring goals from free-kicks. It does this by looking at ways of working the ball into the penalty box through intelligent and innovative routines, instead of continually shooting direct from outside of the box.

The session provides a variety of free-kick routines that involve thoughtful, clever and fast movement and combination play in attempting to catch out the opposition.

Repeated practising of set play routines will lead very quickly to an increase in good goalscoring opportunities, and that’s the most important ‘take out’ for any player.

What do I get the players to do?

We guide the players through a number of set free-kick routines. Each set-up is 10v10, and follows a bespoke pattern of movement, approach play and delivery.

We have annotated each individual free-kick to break down the multiple player moves that make each set-up unique.

Third-man run into the penalty box

1. The server makes a pass into a team mate at the edge of the box
2. As the serve is made, the midfielder sprints behind the kicker and into space inside the box
3. The winger makes an ‘in and out’ move to distract his man and create space for the midfielder to run into

The Zanetti goal (vs England, World Cup 1998)

1. The deep-lying midfielder approaches with the ball, preparing to step over
2. The kicker approaches from the left, and is the man who plays the pass forward into the attacker inside the box
3. The attacker had been stood behind the wall, but bolts left to receive a pass in space

The wide position overlap

1. The first runner uses the kicker to hide his run
2. At the same time, the second runner uses a distraction move to pull the wing-back out of position and towards the flank
3. The receiver moves forward to distract the centre-back, and makes space in behind for the midfielder to run into

The run and pass wall routine

1. The first runner creates a decoy, stepping over the ball and distracting the centre-back
2. The pass is laid into space created on the right-hand side of the box
3. The receiver needs to time his run carefully, only moving after the decoy move has occurred

What are the key things to look out for?

On each free-kick, it’s essential that players recognise the signal or trigger run. This is the start of the move and is the point at which attackers must be alert and ready to move.

Obviously the timing of that movement from each player within the set play is key, and they must be appropriate distances to and from the ball to make the approach play work.

The quality of the first pass must be good or the whole move fails, and once that delivery is made, quick combination play and one-touch precision football must follow.

Finally, when the ball is worked into a dangerous area, we’re looking for a positive and decisive finish into the goal.


  • Ball movementBall movement
  • Player movementPlayer movement
  • DribbleDribble
  • Optional movementOptional movement