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Set-Piece Principles with Chris McLaughlin

Last Friday we hosted another tactical webinar alongside APFA (Association of Professional Football Analysis) with with Set-Piece Analyst at Stirling Albion FC, Chris McLaughlin. Chris shared his insights around effective processes at the professional level, and also looked to scale back set-piece coaching to give coaches at all levels advice on where to focus as a starting point. Set-piece coaching can seem like a daunting role for coaches who may not have a full-time specialist in this area, and Chris provided ideas around principles and basics for coaches looking to improve in this area with their teams. He also discussed the benefits of remote set-piece analysis and how this works in terms of communication with players and staff. You can watch the full webinar for FREE here.

One of the biggest takeaways for me personally was the level of detail and due diligence that Chris goes into when he creates one of his weekly reports. During his presentation he shared exactly what includes and how he merges the data with the video to get an in-depth appreciation of what the opponent look like in set-piece organization. This level of preparation is key at the highest level because the context of the game is always subject to change. Therefore, rather than drawing basic conclusions from data sets, Chris urges coaches to look into why a metric appears the way it does. Although this process is extremely time consuming for a coach or an analyst, the level of buy-in from players and staff will ultimately depend on accuracy, reliability and consistency. (Below is a clip from the webinar on this topic)

Another takeaway from Chris' presentation was how he addressed ways that you can potentially engage players in the process of set-piece preparation. Chris was extremely honest when he shared the sentiments from Peter Crouch and explained that not everyone in the squad will be full of excitement when it's time for working on corner kick routines during the week. However, a common theme throughout Chris' presentation was his focus on solutions and he shared a number of ways and ideas that coaches can try to change this mindset, either by manipulating session design or the environment. (Below is a clip from the webinar on this topic)

Overall, Chris' presentation was outstanding both with his information and inspiration. Yes, we are aware that set-pieces are critically important in the modern game. But the ability to communicate high levels of statistical information, tactical detail, and opposition tendencies to a group of players is ultimately going to be the difference between whether you can make an impact or not. I would highly recommend this webinar for coaches who are looking at new processes or challenging current ones around set-piece training and preparation.

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