Soccer Coaching Blog | Professional Soccer Coaching Advice

Turn crosses into goals


Arriving in the box in the right place at the right time is a particular strength of the world’s top strikers and attacking midfielders. Giving your players this ability will add to the potency of your team’s attack.

During your training session work on these things:

  • Are the attackers meeting the ball as it arrives or are they waiting for the cross? Perfect timing will make the defender’s job of marking almost impossible.
  • Ask the wingers to supply a variety of crosses at different angles, heights and speeds to encourage the attackers to make different runs.

Good build up play will allow wingers to exploit width, putting them in a position to get the ball into the box for your forwards to attack. This session shows your players how to turn these opportunities into goals by getting players on the end of crosses.

  1. Use an area the size of two penalty areas.
  2. One goal either side.
  3. Wingers start at either corner on one side of the area, attackers on the opposite side.

In diagram 1 the first winger carries the ball the length of the playing area and crosses the ball. Attackers set off just after and try to get on the end of the cross and score. The players join the back of the queue and the exercise repeats in the opposite direction.

In diagram 2 you can advance the play from diagram 1 by adding a pair of defenders. This will increase the pressure on the attackers to find a yard of space and on the wingers to improve their crossing accuracy.

  • The coach passes into the two attackers who combine to move the ball wide to the winger.
  • The attackers must then try to lose the defenders and score from the winger’s cross.
  • After attacking, you defend and the previous defenders break out to attack the opposite goal.

Attack the box like Drogba

By David Clarke

David ClarkeBalance, coordination and ball control skills are vital to the art of being a good striker. When he was at Chelsea, Didier Drogba could weave his way to goal and unleash an unstoppable shot at the end of it.

I want my strikers to do exactly the same, so I run through this exercise with them. I call it the slalom exercise because it’s just like what the slalom skiers have to do when racing downhill through a series of poles against the clock.

Get your players to run through this once then start timing them. Tell them you are not looking to see who is the quickest, you want to see who can beat their own time over the course of three runs each.

This means you are going to have to keep scores and names handy so you can check on players’ progress. You also need a stopwatch.

How to play it

  • Your player must dribble in and out of the coaching poles, go around either side of the cone – by selling a dummy or skill move – and finish with a shot on goal.
  • On the next run the player must do the same movement but beat the goalkeeper at the end.
  • Finally the player must do the same movement but beat an active defender before scoring past the goalkeeper.

Key coaching tips

  1. Tell your players you want to see close control and the use of both feet through the poles.
  2. When they are faced with the cone they must try to show a feint or skill, not just run around it.

They can use any shooting technique they like – inside outside of their foot, laces or even a chip, the most important thing is to hit the target.

Neymar is another player who attacks by going past defenders – watch this: