Cross with precision, pace and accuracy

Get your full-backs and wingers to combine and deliver goals from out wide with this drill from Jimmy Gilligan, head coach of the Nike Academy
Cross with precision, pace and accuracy

Set-up

Pair up your full-backs with wingers and have them start the drill hugging opposing touchlines. Position them midway between the edge of the 18-yard box and the halfway line. Have three strikers take up central positions between the 18-yard box and the centre-circle.

Action

On the coach’s command, the winger takes control of the ball and drives off the touchline and infield. As he does this, the full-back overlaps and sprints for the byline and the three strikers start to make separate runs into the box, towards the front post, penalty spot and back post. The full-back now plays a reverse ball to the winger, who receives the pass and delivers a cross into the box for the strikers to finish. If the goalkeeper makes a save, the strikers have to try and convert the rebound. The drill then restarts on the other side.

How it helps

The wingers learn to get their head up and make the right decisions with their delivery, while honing interplay with their full-back. When crossing, the wingers’ focus should be to eliminate any defenders and select the striker in the best position.

Progression

Add a defender and instruct them to pick up one of the strikers. The forward who’s marked needs to try to drag that defender away from where they think the ball will go, making space for one of the other strikers to score. This will help their movement and interaction.

How to turn crosses into goals every time

Deploying an overlapping full-back in the final third of the pitch is ideal for counter-attacking football.

For this to work, defenders need to get the ball to the central midfielder quickly, and from there, out wide to a winger.

This is where the drill kicks in, with the reserve pass and overlapping run. If you want to use the overlapping full-back in general play, ask your wide players to stay high up the pitch and create space in behind the defence by dragging the opposing full-back out of position.

The wide player’s movement and first touch infield are both indicators to the full-back that they need to make their overlapping run: once the winger moves infield, that’s the full-back’s cue to break forward.

One thing to remember: one of the strikers has to be intelligent enough to offer an option inside for the winger, in case the picture changes and the reverse pass is not on.

You can find out more about how you can get involved with the Nike Academy, and watch the players’ progress this season, by visiting facebook and NikeFootball.com.
Jimmy Gilligan Technique

Jimmy Gilligan

Head Coach, Nike Academy

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