In soccer, a “cross” is a medium- to long-range pass intended to create goal-scoring opportunities. Knowing when and where to cross the ball near the end line (the line that runs in front of and parallel to the goal) is a skill for more advanced players that can help improve your offensive prowess.
Division I Women’s Head Soccer Coach Randy Waldrum breaks down the responsibilities of each player and the key areas they should focus on when crossing the ball.
The crosser has the primary responsibility of initiating the play. They are the player who serves the ball into the penalty area. The crosser’s main focus is to get as deep as they can toward the goal. This helps ensures that the opposing team’s defenders have to turn and face their own net.
It’s also important that the crosser takes a touch of the ball inside so that their shoulders become square to the goal when they cross it.
“In other words, we don’t want you to be running vertically and trying to cross the ball across your body horizontally,” says Waldrum. “It’s too difficult to strike the ball that way.”
There are three runners who cross the ball near the end line; each covers a key area.
- Runner One – The first runner comes across the six-yard box to the near-post area. Their main responsibility is to distract the goalkeeper. This helps give them the opportunity to strike a ball that’s driven close to the near post or across the six-yard box.
- Runner Two – The second runner is referred to as a “far-post” runner. Imagine drawing a second six-yard box from the far post to 10 yards beyond the far post. This is the space that this runner needs to fill. It will allow them to get back into the post area for any cross that is played deeper.
- Runner Three – The final runner will arrive late into the top of the penalty area. Arriving late is key so that if the ball is pulled back to the top of the penalty area, they’re arriving at the right time to strike it on goal.