This session is all about the movement that strikers make when attacking a cross. Defenders take up specific positions when the ball goes to wider areas and this session is about trying to move them to create areas that strikers can capitalise on.
The session opens with an unopposed crossing and finishing activity that progresses into a zonal game. It uses the same playing area but turns the basic drill into a more game-like situation.
In the zonal game the defenders can be coached as well if needed, although the main priority remains the movement of the strikers. The session is used to show players the benefits of working with each other to create goal scoring opportunities.
The players always find this session engaging because it’s about creating chances and scoring goals, which most players enjoy. We would run the crossing and finishing activity twice a week and the zonal game once a week.
CROSSING AND FINISHING
We set up a playing area as shown: 70 yards in length and the full width of the pitch. Three central zones are marked out the width of the penalty area. A goal and a goalkeeper are positioned at each end.
We’re using 20 outfield players split into two groups of 10. Set up as shown with two groups of three midfield players taking turns to pass out wide to the crosser at each end. After making the first pass, the starting midfielder then makes a solo forward run to join the two strikers in attacking the goal, opposed only by the goalkeeper, as shown [1a].
Once the attack has taken place, the midfielder rejoins his group back into the central zone and another midfielder makes the next starting pass
to the crosser. They take it in turns to pass to the crosser on the left and then the crosser on the right.
In the diagram [1b], the movement of the two strikers and the attacking midfielder is highlighted. The nearest striker to the crosser should go to the near post ready to meet the cross, the second striker should go into the middle of the penalty area slightly deeper than the first striker, and the attacking midfielder heads to the back post. The attackers should communicate with each other so that if one drops deeper to pull a defender out of position, another one should attack the space vacated.
For this zonal game we use the same basic set-up as before but now we’re using 16 outfield players split into two teams of eight, plus one goalkeeper for each team. Each of the three central zones contains two players from each team. Both teams also have one crosser in each wide channel at the end they
Play starts from the goalkeeper and as in the previous crossing and finishing drill, the midfielder must pass to the wide player who crosses the ball into the strikers. All players are locked in their zones apart from the wide player on the opposite side of the pitch to the crosser and he can join the strikers in the penalty area to make it a 3v2 attack, as shown [2a].
How do I progress the activity?
We use the same basic set-up but now we introduce an extra defender to each team. In this progression, one of the three defenders can now go and challenge the crosser in the wide zone and try to win the ball or block the cross, as shown [2b].
After a few weeks we’d take away the cones and markers and play this as a game, albeit keeping the same area size and with players in the same positions and still with the emphasis on striker movement.