In my capacity as consultant for Elite Soccer I get access to the sessions that the top managers put together for each issue and I thought I’d share this great question and answer feature.
“I realise the value of getting crosses into the box, but our moves down the flanks are mostly random. How can I organise them better? ”
Answer by LMA Ambassador Tony Mowbray
– former West Brom, Celtic and Middlesbrough manager and Elite Soccer contributor
I think it’s because of the unpredictability of crossing that many coaches disregard the fact it can be practised as a set play. Sure, the space out on the flanks can be huge, opposition players do not have to stay a certain distance back (as they would for a free-kick), and then there’s the uncertainty over deep crosses, driven crosses, low crosses, floated crosses and more.
But all that aside, there’s no reason why putting together a few structured crossing and finishing moves shouldn’t organise and galvanise your side’s attacking options, and that’s what this session outline will hopefully stimulate you to do.
After all, crossing and finishing are arguably the most fundamental parts of the game, so must be practised regularly. So we set up two goals facing each other 40 yards apart, and use the penalty box width (44 yards) as the start point for the crossing groups.
The session needs two players on each of the four crossing stations and three players starting next to the four goalposts.
Area: Use of half a pitch
Equipment: Balls, cones, goals
No. of Players: Up to full squad
Session Time: Each drill 10 mins plus progressions
Drill 1 – simple principles
One of the two players at crossing station A passes the ball down the line towards station B. The other player sprints after the ball and crosses, either first-time or having taken a touch. At the moment the first player passes the ball, one player from each post at the foot of the practice area makes a run towards the goal and attempts to finish from the cross. They then join behind that goal and the same process starts at station C in the other direction.
Drill 2 – long passes, zigzag runs
The second drill begins with a player at station C, who passes a long ball to a player at station D. The ball is now rolled back towards the second player from C, who comes onto the pass and delivers a cross into the box either first-time or by taking a touch (like a full-back might when being laid back a ball from his winger), where attackers arrive having crossed over runs on their way into the box.