Crossing and finishing

This is an all-round session for all players – strikers, midfielders, wide players, full-backs, defenders and goalkeepers – and uses the basis of attackers having three separate attempts on goal.

I like this session because it can be adapted for any formation, and has the important feature of an end product – namely goals being scored.

It’s vital for my players that whatever we take into a match situation has been practised with realism and match intensity on the training ground.



Half pitch


Balls, cones, goals, mannequins

Number of Players

Up to 20

Session time

Main practice 20mins, Progression 10mins

What do I get the players to do?

Main practice

Setting up as shown, the first defender begins the practice by passing out diagonally from beside the goal. Striker 1 receives the ball, dribbles it forward, then shoots at goal (1a). He remains in position.


1. The defender passes out to the striker
2. The striker receives, advances forward and shoots

Immediately, the defender on the other side of the goal feeds striker 2. The striker receives, makes a one-two with striker 1, then shoots (1b). Striker 1 can follow in for any rebounds.


1. Now, the other defender passes out to striker 2
2. Striker 2 links with the first striker, who has remained in an advanced position
3. A lay-off allows striker 2 to come forward, and he despatches a shot at goal

For the third phase of this practice, a new defender feeds the deep-lying midfielder. He plays wide for combination play between the left midfielder and the overlapping left full-back (1c). The full-back advances and plays a cross for the two strikers, who are joined by the midfielder in the box, for an attempt at goal (1d).


1. The defender passes out to a receiving midfielder
2. A short pass to the left-sided midfielder is made
3. The left-back advances forward


1. The left-back takes the ball on and prepares to cross
2. The left-back’s cross is attacked by the three players in the middle
3. One striker goes near post, one goes far post, while the supporting midfielder covers the centre of the goal

What are the key things to look out for?

Looking at the technical aspect, the move relies on a series of accomplished passes and touches. Positive, quick and accurate passes must be made – by the defender who feeds to the striker to go on and shoot, and by the midfielder who plays the ball out wide for the combination play on the wing. All players need to show a good first touch, particularly the striker, who must also be confident shooting on the run. Finally, we’re looking for a good quality of cross into the box.

In tactical terms, timing of runs into the right areas of the box by both strikers and midfielders is essential, with strikers needing to occupy near post, middle of goal and far post positions.

How do I progress the session?

We progress the session by making it opposed, with the addition of three defenders in the area in front of goal. These work one-on-one with the strikers in defending the cross from the wing. 

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