Preventing crosses


Up to half pitch


Balls, cones, goals

No. of players

Up to 18 players

Session time

Session 30mins, game 30mins

This session is about full-backs and wingers stopping crosses into the penalty area.

Most attacks come from out wide, so the ability for defenders to be able to block crosses is essential, particularly in matches when our opponents have strikers who are good headers of the ball. This applies to most teams in our division.

At the end of each phase, we reset play, and rotate positions regularly.

What do I get the players to do?

Setting up as shown in the diagram, the server plays to the left-sided attacker (1). This player attempts to take on the winger or make room for a cross into a team mate who attacks the ball from his start position in the ‘D’.


• The server feeds the ball out left for the winger to attack 1v1

In the second phase, we add an attacking full-back, plus an additional defender to create a 2v2 wing attack (2). The two defenders must stifle the threat of a cross.


1. Moving to 2v2, defenders must deal with the support player and the risk of an overlap or overload
2. It is important for the defender to get his positioning right to hold up play and not ‘dive in

In the next stage, we progress again by going 8v8 and coning lines from the edges of the penalty area to the halfway line. Wingers and full-backs work outside this line (3), while midfielders must ensure a good supply of balls out wide, although the server can follow his pass to the wing to support.


1. Now 8v8, and with marked channels, defenders focus on precise blocking angles
2. Good defensive angles from a tackle should result in a throw-in and not a corner

What are the key things to look for technically/tactically?

The role of the full-back is crucial – he must be alert to a number of attacking options, maintaining a position between winger and goal (4). Never diving in, he holds up the attacker to allow time for fellow defenders to support.


1. Midfielders and full-backs must maintain a presence between the attacker and the goal, whilst staying the correct distance from an opponent
2. Defending midfielder should stay in contact with his attacker, but be ready to support the other defenders
3. Full back must cover the winger, but be ready to close down the attacker should he beat the first defender

We look at angles and distances between defender and attacker – the common fault is to be too tight or too far away. Angles vary depending on how far up the touchline the tackle is being made, but a defender should never be more than three yards away from the crosser.  A defender at the wrong angle will fail to block the cross. If the ball is successfully blocked but goes out for a corner, the defender’s angles are slightly wrong. But if the cross is stopped and goes out for a throw-in he is perfectly positioned.

Defenders must also consider if the winger is quick or tricky, and right- or left-footed. Does he want him to go inside or outside? And he must also be well balanced should the attacker change direction at any time – over-striding is a common mistake.

How do I put this into a game situation?

In the set-up shown, the pitch is 50 yards long (5). Midfielders are two-touch, while wingers are conditioned to play in one half before, on the coach’s instruction, being allowed into the other half (1v1s leading into 2v2s). We can now drop in other individual training plans, such as defensive midfielders tracking in relation to full-backs (6).


• In the first game situation phase, wingers are conditioned to stay in their halves, so 1v1s develop


1. Using a midfielder to defend allows the centre back to move across to cover potential attacking options
2. … but when that condition is dropped, the defensive midfielder must track back to defend in relation to his full-back and centre-back



  • Ball movementBall movement
  • Player movementPlayer movement
  • DribbleDribble
  • Optional movementOptional movement