Soccer Coaching Blog | Professional Soccer Coaching Advice

Cross on the run with Tony Carr


This session emphasises the importance of delivering accurate crosses from wide areas to create good attacking moves. The more accurate your players become, the more effective your team will be when attacking.

Ball carriers have to think about where their team mates are, and where is the best place to play the ball to maximise their attacking options.

The best place for a wide player to aim for is the space between the six yard box and the penalty spot. If your attackers know this is the area where the ball is going to be crossed, they can attack it to meet the ball.

The wide player must try to keep the cross away from the goalkeeper.

When the cross is played, the player must turn their upper body in the direction of the ball and think about the height, weight and timing.

How to play it

Using half a pitch, you need a goal and a goalkeeper. Have a goal at either end when you develop it into a game.

Split players into two groups. The first lines up between the penalty area and the touch line, while the second lines up centrally outside the penalty area. Both groups start 25 yards to 30 yards from goal, although this can vary depending on the age and ability of the players.

The players from the first group take it in turns to run with a ball until they pass a marker, and cross to a player from the second group who has made a run into the penalty area.

Players receiving the cross attempt to score with a first time shot. Make the two groups switch roles, and also get players to cross from the other side of the pitch.

How to develop it

Introduce a third line of players who attack the cross from the far post area. Now the wide players have to make a decision on where to cross the ball. Add a defender in the penalty area who actively competes for the ball.

Play it in a game

Set up a pitch that’s wider than normal and play a small-sided game with two goals and goalkeepers. Play normal football, but make goals scored from crosses count double.

Tony Carr is the Academy Director of West Ham United in the English Premier League


The perfect cross

I’ve been working my team on good crossing this week, and the work was put to the test at the weekend. The players were much more positive in crossing and attacking the cross. It resulted in the team scoring two goals. You can use the exercise in today’s issue of Better Soccer Coaching from West Ham Academy director Tony Carr to get your team crossing with purpose.

I also have a clip of Barcelona’s Dani Alves crossing for Bojan to score. Look at how the cross goes into the danger area between the penalty spot and the six yard box. Perfect.

Key soccer coaching tips for crossing skills

•Low, powerful crosses are hard to defend.
•A good, accurate, low cross into the penalty area is one of the hardest balls young defenders will have to face.
•High, looping crosses are hard enough but at least you can see those.
•Balls coming in at an angle just behind the defenders are almost impossible to control and often any touch by a defender will result in an own goal.

How to do it

The technique players should use is the swerve pass using the inside of the foot.

The technique

•Non-kicking foot should be slightly behind, and to the side of the ball. Use the inside of the foot to kick across the ball.

•Tell player to keep his head steady, eyes looking at the ball at the moment of contact.

•His body should be slightly forward to keep the ball low.

The importance of the ball into the box

It’s something you hear shouted at every match you go to, whether it is the local under 8s or a Premier League match – “Get the ball into the box!” or danger area or “Cross it!”… And those shouters have a point.

When youth players get the ball across into the danger areas on a pitch there is a chance something will happen and maybe a goal will be scored.

That ball hit over defenders causes chaos.

If you have players capable of crossing a ball with height and pace get them doing it as often as possible. A stretched defence or retreating defence is going to find it hard to clear the ball and often impossible to get it to a team mate.

It’s a great way to create goal scoring chances.

Watch these two clips from girls matches and see the how often goals are scored from crosses into the penalty area – not always good crosses even. And I have also put up a clip of David Villa scoring a great goal from a superb cross by Joan Capdevila for Spain in the confederation cup earlier this year.