One of the most exciting parts of a soccer game is when your team gets to take a corner kick.
The opportunity is given to you to put the ball, almost unopposed, into the opposition penalty area, where there is a good chance your team may get a shot on goal.
So many important goals have been scored from corner kicks throughout the history of soccer.
Whether you are watching a soccer game from home or on the field playing, it’s important that you know and understand all the rules around a corner kick. Especially as they are such an important part of the game.
Let’s start by defining what a corner kick is.
A corner kick in soccer is a means of restarting a game after the ball has left the field of play. The referee will award a corner kick when the ball has gone over the goal line at either end of the field without a goal being scored, and a defending team’s player is the last player to touch the ball.
This means that whether the ball has been deliberately pushed out of play by a goalkeeper or taken a deflection off a defender after a shot by the attacking side, the last player to touch the ball before it goes over the goal line determines whether or not the referee will award a corner kick.
The Rules for a Corner Kick
A corner kick occurs when the ball goes out of play at either end of the soccer field after being last touched by a player from the defending team.
But once the referee has awarded a corner kick, how does a player take it?
There are five specific rules given for the procedure on how to take a corner kick.
Let’s look at them now.
1. The ball must be placed in the corner area nearest to where the ball crossed the goal line
On a soccer field, there are four corners.
When the ball goes out of play, the attacking team can’t just decide amongst themselves where they want to take the kick from.
At a corner kick, a player must place the ball within the corner arc of the nearest corner from where the ball went out of play.
This can be seen as a disadvantage to some teams if they have a corner kick specialist who is better with one foot rather than the other.
For example, I always prefer to take a corner kick from the right-hand corner as I can swing the ball in toward the goal with my right foot.
Most teams plan for this to happen, though, and will have decided who will take the corner kick before the game. Often it can be a different player depending on the side of the field the corner needs to be taken from.
2. The ball must be stationary when it’s kicked, and it has to be taken by someone from the attacking team
The reason for insisting that the ball is stationary at a corner kick is to prevent the attacking team from taking a rushed kick.
A player will sometimes try to take the kick quickly to catch the defense out before they’re ready. When they do this, there is a higher chance that the ball will not have come to a complete stop before they kick it.
By slowing down and making sure the ball is stationary before it’s kicked, all the players are given time to get into position and be ready to contest the corner kick.
3. The ball is in play when it is kicked and clearly moves; it does not need to leave the corner area
This rule ties in with the previous rule. The ball has to start from a stationary position, as once it is moving, it is once again in play.
Although most of the time, you will see the ball kicked through the air straight into the penalty area from a corner kick, occasionally, you will see a player just gently tap the ball a few inches to one of their team players.
The most common reason this is done is when a team is trying to slow down the game. At this point in a game, the team taking the corner is usually in the lead, and they don’t want to lose that lead.
The thinking is that by kicking the ball straight into the penalty area, there is a chance that the other team could get the ball rather than someone on their own team. And the opposition has a much higher chance of scoring a goal if they have the ball!
For the attacking team in these moments, keeping possession of the ball is more important than the possibility of creating another goal-scoring opportunity.
4. The corner flag must not be moved
At no point in a soccer game must the corner flag be moved. They are not optional items in a game, and they must stay in position for the duration of the game.
The reason a player may want to move the flag is if they feel it is in the way of their run-up for the corner kick. This does not change the rules, though. A player cannot even try to bend or lean the corner flag away from the upright position to try to get around the rule.
It is acceptable for a player to return the corner flag to its position if it has fallen over or been moved accidentally.
5. Opponents must remain at least 10 yds (9.15 m) from the corner arc until the ball is in play
The team defending the corner kick may want to get as close to the ball as possible to try to block the kick from getting too close to their goal.
It used to be the case that no other player could be within 6 yards of the ball at a corner kick, but in 1888 the rules were changed to allow any player on the same team to be as close as they wanted, and in 1914, the rules we changed to restrict any opposition players from coming within 10 yards of the ball.
If the opposition players could stand immediately in front of the ball, it would make the corner kick a little pointless and frustrating for the attacking team as they are unlikely to be able to get the ball past the defending player.
If you’re interested in the difference between a corner kick and a goal kick, check out my article – Goal Kick in Soccer: Rules and Meaning – to find out the difference.
How to Take a Corner Kick
So now we’ve looked at the rules around the corner kick in soccer; how do you actually take one?
When looking at how to take a corner kick, it is a good point to start by knowing how far you have to kick the ball.
There are fairly wide boundaries within the rules as to how wide the soccer field can be. The minimum width can be 50 yards (45m), and the maximum width can be 100 yards (90m). This means the distance from the corner of the soccer field to the goal can be anywhere between 25 and 50 yards (22.5m to 45m).
Taking your time to regularly practice kicking the ball over these distances will help to improve your ability to take an effective corner kick.
The first step in taking a corner kick is placing the ball exactly where you want it.
When it comes to ball placement for a corner kick, the ball has to be within or touching the line of the corner arc at the corner flag. If the ball is outside the corner arc, then the player cannot take the corner kick.
Sometimes you will see a player place the ball right in the middle, and other times you will see them place the ball just barely touching the outside of the line. These are both legitimate positions for the ball to be.
Second, confirm with the other players in your team what the plan is for this corner.
Whether you will play it short to a player close to you or kick it toward the back of the penalty area, make sure the rest of your team knows what the plan is.
Third, take a few steps back and prepare to run up and kick the ball, making sure your run-up avoids the corner flag.
Planning your run-up well and executing the plan sounds simple but can make a huge difference to the corner kick, so it needs to be practiced and done well.
Last, take the run-up and kick the ball.
Hopefully, with enough practice and careful execution, it will go exactly where you planned for it to go, and you may even get a hand in scoring a goal!
A corner kick will count as an assist if the ball only touches one player on your team before going into the goal after the corner kick is taken. A corner kick is counted as a pass leading to a goal being scored.
One thing it is worth being aware of at this point is that after kicking the ball, the player can not touch the ball again until the ball has touched another player. This can be a player from either team.
6 Important Things to Remember About a Corner Kick
When it comes to the corner kick, there are a variety of questions that can come up. We’ll look at six things now that you may still want to know.
1. A corner kick is a direct, not an indirect, kick
In soccer, you find that some kicks are considered to be a “direct” kick, and some are considered to be “indirect.”
What this means is that in some instances, such as a penalty kick, it is permitted to score a goal directly from that kick. In other situations where the kick is considered to be an indirect kick, the ball has to touch another player on the field of play before a goal can be scored.
In soccer, a corner kick is a direct kick. This means it is completely within the rules for a player to score directly from a corner kick. However, if the ball ends up in the player’s own goal, then the referee will award a corner kick to the opposing team rather than let the goal stand.
2. Making a substitution is allowed at a corner kick
Either team can make a substitution at a corner kick. Once the referee has awarded a corner kick, there is a natural break in play where a team can make a substitution before the corner kick is taken if they want to, and the referee allows it.
Once a corner kick has been awarded, there is a natural break in play. At this moment, either team can make a substitution before the corner kick is taken if they want to and the referee allows it.
There are different arguments about whether this is a good tactical move by either the attacking or defending team.
Many people believe that making a substitution at this moment can only have a negative effect. For the defending team, there is a risk of introducing some confusion at a moment when the whole team needs to be working together. A substitute can mean new tactics are being introduced, and not all the players may be on the same page immediately.
Each player on the defending team usually has a specific role to play at a corner kick. Bringing in a substitute at this time may mean there is some confusion over what role each player has. Both possibilities can give the attacking team an advantage.
For the attacking team, the risk is similar. When a substitute is introduced at a corner kick, there may be confusion as to who is doing what at the corner kick.
This confusion can be a disadvantage to both teams.
However, there is a counter-argument that if the substitution is carefully planned and well communicated throughout the team, then you can cause some confusion in the opposition team and then take advantage of that.
And, of course, sometimes a team has no choice but to make a substitution if a player has been injured, for instance.
3. A player can’t be offside from a corner kick
In soccer, a player cannot be offside if they receive the ball directly from a corner kick. However, once the second player has touched the ball, the referee will enforce the offside rule again.
This allows any player on the attacking team to be as close to the goal as they would like to be. And also means that you will often see the defending team standing right on the goal line to defend the goal.
4. It’s ok to take a short corner
Sometimes at a corner kick, a team will choose to take a short corner rather than kicking the ball further into the field.
A short corner in soccer is when the ball is kicked a short distance toward a player on the same team at a corner kick.
It is usually considered a short corner when the ball has traveled less than 10 yards (9.1m) to another player on their team. 10 yards (9.1m) from the corner flag is the nearest an opposition player can be to the ball at a corner kick.
The advantage of doing this is that the opposing team cannot come within a 10-yard radius of the corner flag at a corner kick. This allows the other player to receive the ball unopposed.
5. You can score directly from a corner kick
A player can score directly from a corner kick. A corner kick is a “direct kick,” meaning that the ball does not have to touch another player before entering the goal. However, if the ball enters the kicker’s goal directly from a corner kick, the referee will award a corner kick to the opponent.
Although this is allowed, it’s not something you will see often.
Mainly because it is hard to do!
Usually, when you do see it, it is an accident rather than deliberate (Although the taker of the corner kick may disagree with that!).
It is hard to do partly due to the angle, accuracy, and curl on the ball that has to be achieved, but also because when a corner kick is taken, there are a lot of people all defending the goal at the same time. The ball has to bypass all these players for a goal to be scored.
6. There is a difference between a corner kick and a goal kick in soccer
A corner kick is taken from the corner of the soccer field at the end of the field nearest to the goal the attacking team is attempting to score in.
A goal kick is taken from the 6-yard box next to the defending team’s goal.
A goal kick is awarded when the ball goes over the goal line at the end of the field, and the last player to touch the ball is on the team attacking the goal. As long as a goal hasn’t been scored, the defending team can take a goal kick from anywhere within their own 6-yard box.
The difference with a corner kick is that the ball has to have gone over the goal line at the end of the field, but the last player to have touched it is a player from the defending team.
At this point, the attacking team can take the corner kick.
If this post about corner kicks has made you interested in finding out more about the rules of soccer, check out this recent article I wrote – A Simple and Easy to Understand Guide to the Rules of Soccer.
Alternatively, have a look at my guide to the meaning, rules, and strategies for a kick-off in soccer.
*Check out our next post – 10 Easy Soccer Tricks and Skills – Step-by-Step and Video Tutorials *