Youth Soccer Set Plays

The science of youth soccer is both simple and complex when designing set plays. Every player on the field must know their role in any given situation. Soccer players must be quick on their feet as well as quick in their reactions to the play. Some plays are described below, but you can also find more free youth soccer set plays online at sites like

One of the keys to being a great soccer player is reading the field correctly and knowing the position you should be in to take advantage of the situation. Set plays for soccer offense should involve opening the field up to create lanes for fast breaks into the offensive zone. Set plays for soccer defense should be designed to force the play to the outside edges of the field to limit space for the attackers.

Set Plays for Youth Soccer

Soccer Offense

When designing set plays for attacking in soccer, you’ll want to focus on ball possession while spreading the defensive coverage throughout the soccer pitch. The idea is to create enough room for your forwards to break into the open and receive a pass. In many cases, the defense will try to force the offense into a tight box and long cross passes are required to spread the defenders out again.

The “Decoy” – Involves the attacking forward making a break to get in behind the defense. You have to time this attack perfectly to avoid going offside. If a pass is available for your teammate, he should make it. Otherwise, he should watch for another forward to break for the open space you created when you dragged the defender away to cover you.

The “Corner Kick” – When delivered properly, can create a number of scoring opportunities for your team. Practice having the designated kicker place the ball high in the air in front of the goal giving the offense the chance to run in and get a header or free kick at the goal.

The “Double Exchange” – Similar to a double reverse in football. This is where one teammate dribbles the ball towards another and exchanges the ball. As most defensive units are on to this exchange, add a third teammate into the mix and exchange the ball again. The confusion among the defenders should create some open space to move the ball further up field.

Soccer Defense

As a defensive unit, you want to push the attackers to the outside and squeeze them into a tight pack. The first defender should not only protect the ball carrier from moving up field, they should position themselves to protect the middle of the field as well. The second line of defense should then work on covering the lanes or open spaces and force the play to the outside. If the attacking player makes a successful pass, the process should begin all over again.

A good way to practice youth soccer defense is to have scrimmages with smaller numbers of players to increase the speed and create numerous types of situations between the defenders and the attackers. You can run 3v3, 4v4, or 5v5 Scrimmage Drills to maximize your soccer practice.

By Trevor A. Sumner who works for, a youth soccer community dedicated to providing parents, coaches and athletes the tools and information to celebrate the love of the game. has one of the most comprehensive, free soccer drill libraries in its active soccer community.