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Intermediate Passing – Crossing

INTERMEDIATE PASSING – CROSSING

The traditional crossing pass (cross, crosses, crossing) in soccer most closely resembles a corner kick, but it is made as part of the normal attacking run of play.  Usually, a forward or wing midfielder receives a lead pass which takes him into an area of the field close to the corner flag, approximately 15-yards square, bounded by the end-line and the touchline.  By kicking the ball from this location back to a space out in front of the goal, the player creates a wonderful and unique situation where the ball is moving away from the goalkeeper but into the path of on-rushing teammates.  These teammates can then attempt headers, volleys, half-volleys, or any other form of shot.  As a result, a significant number of goals are scored due to well-placed and well-timed crosses.

Coaches often speak to many different types of crosses, including inswingers, outswingers, chips, low driven balls, near post, far post, and lead crosses, or just refer to crosses as long passes on the ground or in the air.  This treatment represents an introduction to the traditional airborne cross, with the ball directed far enough back into the field of play so that the goalkeeper will not choose to go get it.  At this stage, the single most important aspect of coaching players how to make a proper cross is to get their whole body turned, from running toward the end-line to facing the direction they want to ball to travel, at the time of the kick.  The kick itself is a lofted pass.  The following progression is recommended for introducing crossing:

Demonstration

Dribble, “Run Around Ball,” Cross

Dribble, “Personal Pass Inside,” Cross

Cross Over Defender

Cross Over Defender, with Goalkeeper, to Teammate

Game Situation:  Live Defender, Live Goalkeeper, Live Attacker

Demonstration

Prior to the demonstration, in the right corner of the field place four discs (or three discs and a corner flag) to delineate the kicking area, and cones for a defender (on the line of the penalty area approximately 10-yards into the field), for a goalkeeper (approximately two yards in front of the center of the goal) and for a target attacker (at the far intersection of the “D” at the top of the penalty area).

The coach should announce that he is going to introduce “crossing” and show the expected end result.  In order to do so, the coach should first place assistants or volunteers at each of the cones representing the defender, the goalkeeper and the attacking player in front of the goal.  The team should be placed just outside the sideline of the kicking area.  The coach should then dribble into the kicking area and send a proper cross over the head of the defender to the attacking player (who may then proceed with a shot on goal).  It is extremely important that the coach now demonstrate the two most effective ways to first learn the technique necessary to get into position to properly perform the kick.  These are the “Run Around the Ball” approach and the “Personal Pass Inside” approach.  In either approach, the body gets turned at the hips in order to face the intended receiver.

In the “Run Around the Ball” approach, the coach demonstrates dribbling on a straight line into the kicking area, parallel to the sideline; tapping the ball slightly ahead, still on a straight line, toward the end-line; and then running in a right-to-left arc, toward the sideline and then toward the ball, in order to face the target receiver.  A lofted pass with the right foot is then made.

Run Around the Ball then Cross
(Double-click over image for larger view.)

In the “Personal Pass Inside” approach, the coach demonstrates dribbling on a straight line into the kicking area, parallel to the sideline; tapping the ball at approximately a 45-degree angle (or greater, up to 90-degrees) to the left, toward the penalty area; and then running left to meet the ball, in order to face the target receiver.  A lofted pass with the right foot is then made.

Personal Pass Inside then Cross
(Double-click over image for larger view.)

 Dribble, “Run Around Ball,” Cross

 With ball retrievers placed strategically on the other side of the penalty area and others available to get the balls back at the practice location, players practice the technique of dribbling into the kicking area, running around the ball, and making a good, lofted pass with their right foot deep toward the target cone.

Dribble, “Personal Pass Inside,” Cross

With ball retrievers placed strategically on the other side of the penalty area and others available to get the balls back at the practice location, players practice the technique of dribbling into the kicking area, making a personal pass to their left, and making a good, lofted pass with their right foot deep toward the target cone.

Cross Over Defender

Coaches should then add a live, stationary or mobility-restricted, defender in place of the defender cone and repeat the techniques above.

Cross Over Defender, with Goalkeeper, to Teammate

Coaches should then add a live, mobility-restricted, goalkeeper in place of the goalkeeper cone and a full-live target attacker, in place of the target-attacker cone, and repeat the techniques above.  The goalkeeper should be instructed to collect in balls sent into the goal area.

Game Situation:  Live Defender, Live Goalkeeper, Live Attacker

With discretion, the coach may let all players go “live,” in order to simulate game conditions.  The defender, however, should be restricted from entering the kicking area given that the objective is to learn how to cross.

Then entire progression should then be set up and performed on the left side of the field with the crosses being taken with the left foot.

 Soccer Coaching Tips

Timing of the last touch to set up the cross is critical:  the ball must be struck early enough and with just the right pace so that it doesn’t go over the end-line

A ball being crossed within the field of play, but then going out of the end-line, is the clearest indicator of not using proper technique to get the hips turned

As with other passes, players are to see their target, see the ball, and watch their foot kick the ball as they make proper contact for the cross

A solid plant foot, properly pointed at the target receiver, is essential

Remind players that crosses must be kept away from the goalkeeper

Low crosses need help with a review of the lofted kick technique

If players do not have sufficient leg strength to loft the ball over the defender, they should be instructed to at least get the ball around the defender

Trying to kill the ball usually gets a bad result; staying calm is important; if players see that they can’t get the cross off, they need to be instructed to pull the ball back and keep it in play

Crossers must make good use of the space available to them: stay away from the defender; players may be instructed to use the “personal pass inside” technique if the defender is not close, use the “run around the ball” technique if the defender is close, or fake the “personal pass inside” and then use the “run around the ball” in order to lose the defender

Attackers can be challenged to try to score one-touch; attackers must be reminded to use proper technique

Attackers must hang back and not over-run the cross

Alternate kickers, attackers, defenders, and goalkeepers

When a high level of success is achieved with the basic cross used above (“18-cross”), different target locations may be introduced, such as the penalty spot (“12-cross”), or the opposite side of the goal area (“6-cross”)

 

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John Harves

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