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Shoot and defend crosses

Crossing drill – Shooting and defending crosses

Crossing is a key aspect in football. Teams with good wingers should seek playing wide to feed crosses to their attackers. On the other hand, defenders must be prepared to deflect crosses. This crossing drill will develop the skills require to execute and defend crosses.

Setup

You will need half of an actual football pitch, 14 cones, and 4 to 6 balls minimum. Set the circuit as shown in the picture below.

This drill works best with 6 players, but you could involve a few more players. You can also have two groups and run this drill in both halves of the field. Use this drill as a link between your warm-up and a global training exercise.

Instructions

This football circuit drill is made up of 3 main phases: crossing, shooting and defending. Follow the pictures and instructions below:

  • 6 players wait in the stations to start as shown in the first picture below.
  • Player 1 crosses the ball to 2. The cross must be airborne.
  • Player 2 shoots at goal as soon as they receive the ball (in the first iteration nobody will be at goal).
  • Soon after shooting, Player 2 must run to the goal area (the small area inside the penalty box).
  • Once Player 2 reaches the small goal, they may choose to stay close to the goal line to deflect shots or try to run back closer to the next shooting player to attempt blocking the cross or make their shot more difficult.
  • While Player 2 is running to goal, Player 1 runs to the position Player 2 left. At the same time, player 5 runs towards the station Player 1 has left.
  • Once Player 2 is at goal, Player 3 crosses the ball to Player 4.
  • Player 4 shoots at goal as soon as they receive the goal.
  • After attempting blocking Player 4’s shot, Player 2 will pickup the ball and run outside the field to the station that Player 6 will leave empty.
  • Continue moving players from station to station.
  • Players can score from a volley, header or controlling the ball but with only one touch.
Player 1 crosses to Player 2.
Player 2 runs to protect goal after shooting.
Player 1 runs to the station Player 2 left.
Player 5 moves to the station Player 1 left.
Player 3 crosses to Player 4.
Player 4 runs to protect the goal after shooting.
Player 3 runs to the station Player 4 left.
Player 6 moves to the station Player 3 left.
Player 2 picks up a ball and runs outside the field to the station Player 6 left.
Player 5 crosses to Player 1.
Player 1 runs to protect the goal after shooting.
Player 5 runs to the station Player 1 left.
Player 4 picks up a ball and runs outside the field to the station Player 5 left.
Player 6 crosses to Player 1.
Player 2 is getting ready to move into Player 6’s station.

You can add variations to this game. For example, you can involve your goalkeeper. The goalkeeper will stay at goal while the rest of the players move from station to station.

Keep the intensity. Ask players to keep moving from station to station. Do not aim at getting a smooth transition between stations, focus on continuos movement as fast as possible. This exercise will be messy the first time you execute it, but will get better as players get the idea and rhythm.

Takeaways

Although a small defending component is part of the drill, the focus is on finishing crosses. This drill will develop the following skills:

  • Crossing and long balls. Consistency is key in crossing. Crosses have to be timed and with the right power on them to avoid being intercepted but also to make them easy to control by the shooting player.
  • Quick finishing. There is not much time for players to control and plan their shot. While controlling the ball and shooting is allowed, the drill encourages headers and volleys.
  • Ball control. Players shooting at goal are allowed one touch but they have to be quick. A great deal of control is required to quickly get the ball on the ground from an airborne cross.
  • Speed and reaction. Once a player shoots, they must sprint to stop the next shooting player from scoring. This requires quick reaction and speed.
  • Defending crosses and decision making. Players defending the goal have to quickly decide if they stay at goal, run back to reduce options for the next player or attempt intercept the cross.
  • Fitness. Players cover a big area of the pitch while quickly stopping, starting, shooting, etc.

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