This session is aimed at giving attacking players plenty of opportunities to make front post and back post runs and finish with a side-footed shot from the edge of the six-yard box. It gives attackers the chance to work in pairs and rehearse their movement to receive the ball, and it also helps them perfect the art of making an angle when they approach the ball and finish with the inside of the foot. From a psychological point of view, it helps attacking players to get in the right mind set so they can concentrate on finishing from close range.
In addition to the finishing benefits, this session gives wide players the chance to rehearse their deliveries into the goalmouth area, and to make supporting runs into the box when the cross has come from the opposite wing.
We would run this session once a week, or maybe once every two weeks, depending on the intensity of our schedule.
What do I get the players to do?
Crossing & finishing
We set up in the final third with a goal and goalkeeper. Seven mannequins are positioned as shown. To begin with, we’re using eight outfield players, split into four blue crossers and four blue attackers, set up as shown [1a]. The crossers are positioned on cones in the wide areas and they take turns to cross the ball into one of the two highlighted delivery areas in the penalty box. Two attackers at a time should make runs into the delivery areas, one to the near post and one to the far post. They should either shoot or play their partner in to take a shot on goal. The finish should be a side-footed shot from the edge of the six-yard box. After each attack, the players should reset while another cross comes in from the other side.
How do I progress the session?
To progress the activity, we now remove the mannequins and add a red defender inside the penalty area instead. Again, the crossers take turns to cross the ball into the delivery areas on the edge of the six-yard box. Two attackers should make runs into the delivery areas, one to the near post and one to the far post and the defender should do his best to repel the attack, as shown [1b]. The added defender makes it a 2v1 attack.
To progress the activity further, we now add a second red defender. We also allow one extra blue attacker to enter the penalty area with a late run. He should function as a rebound man, who clears up and finishes from any balls coming out of the six-yard box, as shown [1c]. This makes it a 3v2 attack.
For a final progression, one of the wide players can join the attack on the side opposite to where the cross comes in from. This makes it a 4v2 attack, as shown [1d].
What are the key things to look out for?
We want to see players making the right movements into the penalty area so they are in the correct position to meet the incoming ball. The movement from the striker has got to be effective and as soon as the defender takes his eye off the attacker to look at the ball, then that is the trigger for the attacker to make the movement to lose his marker. We also want to see players finishing with a high quality shot on target using the side of the foot.
We want to see the wide players making quality crosses into the correct delivery areas on the edge of the six-yard box.
What are the typical mistakes players might make and how do I avoid them?
A typical mistake that players sometimes make is hitting the ball too hard, which loses the accuracy of the shot and causes the ball to miss the target. Players need to make sure their approach to the ball is not too straight and they are not leaning back when they finish, otherwise they will hit the ball over the bar.
When the cross comes in, another mistake that attackers make is to take their eye off the ball, which affects the ball contact and causes them to swing their leg and mis-hit the shot. Impress on players the need for concentration in these circumstances.