Routine Inspection: A playbook for corner kicks

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Laurie Shaw, Harvard University
Sudarshan Gopaladesikan, SL Benfica


Corner kicks are one of the few attacking situations in soccer that a team can choreograph and rehearse in training. While the average conversion rate – the proportion of corners that directly result in a goal– is very low (around 2% in most elite leagues), some teams have been able to achieve much higher conversion rates, attributed to careful planning and meticulous execution of corner strategies.

This research is unique in two aspects. It is the first to perform a detailed analysis of the synchronised runs (‘routines’) made by the attacking players that define offensive corner strategies. Second, we show how the roles of individual defenders (marking man-to-man or zonally) can be inferred directly from data.