Crossing and finishing from wide areas

Area

Up to a half pitch

Equipment

Balls, cones, goals

No. of players

16 plus 2 keepers

Session time

Warm-up 15mins, Game situation 20-30mins

This session is about crossing and finishing from wide areas, and is one we’ll perform up to three times a week because in Jordan Rhodes and Rudy Gestede we have two players who thrive on service from the flanks.

Both players topped 20 goals last season and a lot of that was down to excellent service – yes we rely on guys in the middle to finish, but players on the wings who can provide good deliveries too, and this session practises both.

What do I get the players to do?

Warm-up

We start with a warm-up of passing in shape with a finish on goal, as shown (1). The encouragement is for players to get crosses into the box early. As soon as one attack ends another begins with the emphasis on maintaining a high tempo.

1

1. The ball starts with the keeper who plays a long pass to any of the back four
2. Players begin the attacking move, combining using quick combinations
3. All attacks end with a cross and attempt on goal

What are the key things to look out for?

We’re looking for quality of pass into space. As this happens there must be good movement in the box with strikers taking up positions in key areas (one across the near post, one for a pull-back). A common mistake is strikers making the same type of run, or to the same point. The delivery must have pace, weight and accuracy, with power and timing the key elements when it comes to what we look for in the finish. We also want to see originality and variation in approach play  (2).

2

1. In this variation the ball is dropped short for the full-back to advance with the ball
2. Attacking players make positive runs into the box
3. A deep cross is played towards the far post
4. The winger continues his run
5. The right-sided attack plays across the box for the winger to run onto and score

The secret to mastering crossing and finishing is repetition, which builds confidence, communication and understanding. What’s being coached is not complex or especially detailed, but it does require precision, accuracy and excellent teamwork, and that’s where the best and worst teams succeed and fail.

How do I put this into a game situation?

We now set up as shown (3), 3v3 in each penalty area with a five-yard gap in between where  a striker can enter unopposed. The four white neutrals are crossers.

3

1. Blues start with the keeper and build
2. A blue striker drops off into the free zone
3. He sets the ball out wide to the white neutral who crosses for the attackers
4. A goal is scored

We can progress by allowing the white neutral on the far side to come into the area to create a 4v3 attacking overload (4)

4

• In the progression, the opposition white neutral enters the central box area to make a 4v3 overload in front of goal