How to Be a Threat from Wide Areas

Despite this form of attack having become less popular, with an increasing number of teams looking to maintain possession of the ball and await opportunities in more central areas, crossing from wide areas is still a hugely effective tactic when used correctly.

Crossing is still a skill in which some players struggle to carry out effectively, while a number of teams also fail to recognise opportunities in this area. Crossing is one of the quickest ways in which to quickly get the ball into the box from wide areas, however many coaches nowadays overlook this technique.

 

To many, crossing is simple to learn, however it is in fact a skill that is difficult to master, with both wide players and other attackers having to work in unison in order to make it work. Wingers must learn the different types of cross that are available to them, while strikers and midfielders must learn how to time their runs to perfection. So, let’s take a look at how coaches can help players learn to cross the ball with devastating effect.

 

  1. Body Position

 

Whether players already have the ball at their feet or are running onto the ball, it is hugely important to ensure that wingers set themselves to cross the ball correctly. This body position will depend on the type of cross which suits the situation, whether it be a whipped ball behind the oppositions defence or a drilled low pass for an onrushing striker.


 

  1. Access the Situation

 

Before actually striking the ball, players must ensure that they have an idea of what is occurring in the box, which includes both teammates and the opposition. So, coaches must be sure that players do not aimlessly put a ball into the box that is easy to defend, with taking advantage of an out of position defender or a run from an aerial dominant striker. However, there will be occasions when crossing a ball early and without thinking is the most effective, however this is of course difficult to coach.  


 

  1. Keep an Eye on the Ball

 

It is important for players to keep their eye on the ball right up until the ball is struck, focusing on the specific area in which they are looking to strike. Doing this will ensure that the ball is crossed with the most suitable speed and velocity, making it perfect for attackers to get on the end of.


 

  1. Cross the Ball

 

When crossing the ball, players should place their standing foot next to the ball, before striking it with the inside or outside of the foot, or even the laces. Crosses will generally be made with the side of the foot, whether it be a David Beckham-style whipped effort or more of a precise daisy-cutter, however it is important for players to practice all available options.


 

  1. Stay Alert

 

Work for wide players is not over as soon as a cross has been hit, with the ball often rebounding back to them or requiring them to move into the box themselves. As a result, be sure to ensure that players stay alert at all times, as this will potentially mean that they get the better of a full-back who is on their heels.


 

 

Now that coaches are aware of what is required from players when crossing the ball, the following tips are well worth taking on board when teaching this form of the game.

 

 

  • Begin with a Stationary Ball – Beginners should kick things off by starting with a stationary ball, with this being a lot easier to control. Only when this skill has been mastered should players move on to crossing a moving ball.

 

  • Introduce an Opponent – Crossing is undoubtedly easier when space is available to wingers, so coaches should introduce a defender in which they have to beat before delivering the ball into the box, providing an in-game situation in the process.

 

  • Different areas – Have players aim for different areas of the box when crossing the ball, whether it be the front post, far post of penalty spot. Most of the time, focusing on this rather than a specific teammate is the way to get the better of opponents.
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