Most keepers know how to set up a wall for a free-kick. Make sure the last defender in the wall makes a line from near post to the ball. But in this post, we explain why it’s useful to add a defender next to the “last man in the wall” – the “burned” defender.

Making a wall

We discussed how to make a wall previously, here.  The key is to pick the right number of defenders in the wall, and align the “last one” -the anchorman- with the nearpost and the ball. See the diagram below.


The need to waste or “burn” an extra defender.

However, while providing great protection for your near post, allowing the keeper to  concentrate on the rest of the goal, a clever striker can bend the ball around the wall, and into the lower far corner of the goal. This is almost unstoppable for a keeper.

The lack of a burned defender – an example

In a recent EPL game, Huddersfield scored from a free-kick in a dangerous area, Wolves had made a good wall, the last “anchorman” aligned with the post and the ball as required. But the striker was  able to bend the ball slightly, around the wall and into the bottom corner

The wall is precise as the commentators show, but there is a wasted defender to the side, presumably to prevent a passed free kick just to the side of the wall, for a striker to run onto.

This defender should have been put in the wall, as a “burned” defender. They would not have been directly protecting the goal, but would have stopped a slightly bent shot from getting past the wall. They could also protect against that passed kick which could outflank the wall.

Tips for coaches – confidence – cohesion – technique

Encourage your keepers to make a wall quickly and precisely.

Work with your chosen designated “wall” players. Make sure they know their place. It’s too late to have the keeper decide and rally them as the kick is being set up.

While only relevant at the older, more skillful ages, consider having your keeper add an extra defender just outside the line of the post and the ball – the burned defender.

This will give the keeper confidence that their near post is safe, and they can concentrate on the remainder of the goal.