Using Restarts To Your Advantage

Soccer is a fluid game and rarely involves using a set of plays. Restarts, however, are the exception. In situations in which the play is being restarted, possession of the ball is everything.

At a restart, attackers have a great scoring opportunity. The defense is under constant threat and must be ready for surprises. Corner kicks are a type of restart that's an obvious advantage to the offense. Other types of restarts are used to simply get the ball back into play and often neither side pays much attention to the offensive and defensive principles involved.

For the defense, set plays are crucial in restarts. No matter how unwilling a coach may be used to set plays in the offense, he or she must realize that the goal is threatened when the team is on defense. Repeated practice of restart plays can be helpful and rather than listing all the types of set plays, let's take a look at the basic soccer coaching offensive and defensive principles in restarts so you can apply them to your youth team.


The creation of space gives more time for the completion of soccer skills. In restarts the opposition is restricted by at least 10 yards so the offensive team can use this space to its advantage. The defense will want to close this space as soon as possible to increase the chance of intercepting the ball.


In order to create more space, smart movement by the offensive team is necessary or else it will be too easily covered by the defense. If the defense uses man-to-man marking, more space can be opened up for decoy runs. Covering zones is more advantageous to the defense.


The pressure falls on the player taking the restart. He or she has to decide who is in the best position to receive the ball. If the defense has prepared for the restart, the selection should not pose an immediate danger to them.

Let's take a look at two of the most common types of restarts.

  1. Kickoff: The team kicking off, whether at the start of a game or after a goal has been scored, has the advantage of penetration. The player with the ball should select the most penetrating pass. To counteract this danger, the defense must maintain balance. This means that one player rushing the ball should be balanced by another defender taking his place on defense.
  2. Throw-ins: Attackers should know they cannot be ruled offside at throw-in and can therefore try to create penetrating positions before the ball is served to them. Defenders need to exercise control and restraint to avoid being faked into poor positions.

It will take time for youth players to apply these soccer coaching principles such as space, movement, and selection. It's in your best interest to coach these concepts in a short meeting rather than on the fly in a practice. With repeated exposure, youth players will begin to understand these concepts and your team will improve because of it.

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