On Monday we ran a poll where the votes favoured a man to man marking system. There have been many debates on the pros and cons of both of these systems for defending corners. Here we look into a few of the good points and not so good points of each..



– You can get your best aerial players in the most dangerous areas for the opposing attackers, i.e in the frame of the goal.

– There is less chance of the opposition getting a block on your most aerial dominant players.

– Individual players are responsible and accountable for their designated areas to defend.

– Players are not tied to a specific marker, allowing players to easily take up position in their team shape for the 2nd phase.


– A good delivery and run can exploit the spaces in between the defensive zones. These spaces can sometimes be grey areas with players hesitating on who’s specific zone it is to attack.

– A well timed run and ball flight could enable the attacker to get a running jump on a static defender, making the attacker favourite to win the aerial duel.

– Clever opposition movement could dictate to the zone.. ie. pulling a zonal player short could make a particular area more vulnerable to exploit.

**Pro/Con?.. As players are not assigned specific markers, it could be easier to position your quicker players to exploit a counter attack opportunity. On the other side of that, Zonal marking usually requires every player in the team back defending the corner. If the opposition have done their analysis, they may be able to position players to stop this threat and even overload area’s that could create several waves of attack.



– With good analysis or knowledge of their players, you can create the best match ups to gain the upper hand. Matching up your most aerial players with their biggest attacking threats.

– Each defensive player is assigned an attacking player to mark and is accountable for preventing that player scoring.

– If you can get your match ups correct with thorough analysis, after you have taken care of the defensive work, there may be a good opportunity to exploit the counter attack with your faster players being matched up with their slower players or players you could drag out of position.

– If you have no access to analysis. With clever players, you can allow them to match up during the game with a percieved attacking threat of similar size/weight.


– Match ups have to be spot on for speed as well as body mass, otherwise the faster attacker getting a ‘run’ on a slower defender would be hard to stop if the delivery was on point.

– Could be susceptible to good attacking movements, with players easier to block as they concentrate on their designated player and the delivery.

– Clever analysis and movement could take your most aerial players away from the danger zones, leaving the most dangerous areas more susceptible. *This could also cause confusion if players try to switch their man as the corner is ready to be taken, possibly leaving a player unmarked for a vital split second.

– If the players are allowed to ‘match up’ during the game, a perceived smaller player, who is actually one of the best attackers of the ball could be given to a less aerial dominant player.

Pro/Con??.. Man to man can cause confusion during the 2nd phase, if the 1st ball is cleared, do you then stay man to man? If so when you regain the ball your players could be out of position. There is an argument then to switch to zonal for any 2nd phase of attack, which would allow your players to exploit the possibility of a counter attack.


As you can see lots of decisions have to be made to decide the best defensive set up for your players. It’s a decision not to be taken lightly as 25-33% of goals are conceded from set pieces.

Here at Football DNA we think there is an argument for a mixture of both?! We think it clearly depends on the type of players you have in the team as to which system you choose.

As always any input on our thoughts are more than welcomed. On the website there will be a further in depth analysis on this very important, clearly debatable topic.