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The cross collector

Dealing with crosses as part of a defensive unit is a large part of a goalkeeper’s job. That, is why it is vital to spend time on the practice ground helping your goalkeeper with their positioning, communication and punching and catching skills. “The cross collector” shows you how.

What this session is about

  1. Knowing when to catch a cross and when to punch the ball away.
  2. Improving your decision making.
  3. Communicating clearly with defenders.

What to think about

  • Your goalkeeper’s position for a cross should be slightly back of centre of the goal and away from the goal line. But not too far out in case the ball flies straight in.
  • The goalkeeper has an open body shape to assess the penalty area.
  • They need to communicate early, loudly and simply. Tell the defenders what action is needed – for instance, “keeper’s” or “away”.
  • Catching and punching technique.
  • Footwork.

Set-up

Use a penalty area (or equivalent size) with a goal, goalkeeper, one passer and three servers.

Warm upSessionDevelopmentsGame SituationWarm Down
7-10 minutes15-20 minutes15-20 minutes15-20 minutes7-10 minutes

What you get your players to do

The passer, “P”, stands at one corner of the penalty area with their back to the goalkeeper. Three servers, standing side-by-side 5 yards apart and parallel with the touch line, face “P”.

“P” passes to any of the three servers, who controls the ball before crossing. The servers should vary the crosses so the goalkeeper’s catching, punching and movement skills are tested. For example, the server nearest the byline can change the angle of delivery by playing the ball down the line and pulling the cross back, forcing the goalkeeper off his line.

Switch the delivery to the other corner of the penalty area as pictured in the middle. This may require left-footed crosses, although there’s no reason why right-footed players can’t cut back and deliver inswinging balls.

The passer releases a server to cross for the goalkeeper to catch or punch the ball.

The passer releases a server to cross for the goalkeeper to catch or punch the ball.


Development

Add a defender “1” in the penalty box to clear any crosses which bend away from the goalkeeper.

Then add another defender “2”, plus a forward “3” to attack the crosses. To progress further, add a second forward.

The passers and servers switch to the other side of the penalty area to test the goalkeeper from different angles.

The passers and servers switch to the other side of the penalty area to test the goalkeeper from different angles.


Game situation

Play 6v6 on a 60 yards by 40 yards pitch. Condition the game so goals scored from crosses, whether free play, corners or free kicks, count double.

The addition of an attacker and two defenders ensures the goalkeeper makes the correct decisions.

The addition of an attacker and two defenders ensures the goalkeeper makes the correct decisions.


What to call out

  • “When in doubt, punch it out.”
  • “Be positive.”
  • “Unless the attacker crosses from the byline, keep defenders out of the sixyard box.”
  • “Adopt a “set” position if defenders are clearing.”
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