A well-placed cross can lead to a goal and victory for your team. However, a cross that is not placed correctly can do the opposite, possibly leading to a loss of possession.
Crossing the ball is a skill all great soccer players should possess, and there is a technique to doing it correctly. There are also several types of crosses to suit varying game situations.
This guide to crossing the ball in soccer will help you master this necessary skill to lead your team to victory.
Table of Contents
What Is a Cross in Soccer?
Crossing the ball in soccer generally means accurately passing the ball from a wide part of the field into the goal box, so a player can score. Although, a player can also cross the ball into the goal box from any location on the field.
The goal is to serve the ball directly to a player making a run toward the goal. An accurate cross doesn’t force the player to slow down while making their approach.
Why Is Knowing How to Cross Important?
Roughly 16 percent of Premier League goals are from crosses made by outer wings. Another 26 percent are from set pieces, corners, and penalties, which often require crossing the ball to a player in scoring position.
Learning how to cross the ball accurately is a critical soccer skill. You’ll hold a more valuable position on your team if you can cross the ball directly to a player making a run toward the goal.
How to Cross the Ball
Crossing the ball is a skill that’s easier said than done. It requires excellent technique, including a perfect approach, ideal foot placement, and optimal timing.
The following are the essential steps to crossing the ball, but these steps may vary slightly based on the type of cross you want to perform. As with most soccer skills, practice makes perfect, and repetition is the key to success.
- Push the ball ahead of you to create enough space between yourself and the defender.
- Look toward the goal and locate a player making a run.
- Approach the ball at a curve, so you can “whip” the cross perpendicular or at an angle less than 90 degrees. You do not want to kick the ball more forward while crossing it.
- Plant your standing foot next to the ball and wrap your kicking foot around the ball to bend the pass. You will perform the cross with a different part of the foot depending on the type of cross you make.
- Strike the ball with force but not typically as forcefully as you’d take a shot on goal. The ball will need sufficient power to whip into the correct position for your teammate to make contact and score.
- Complete your follow-through based on the type of kick you want to perform. Follow through with your kicking leg high if you want to cross the ball in the air. Point your toe down on the follow-through for a strong, low pass.
Types of Crosses
Crosses are typically used from wide positions to create shots on goal for players inside the goal box. Excellent players have several types of crosses in their arsenal.
The following are some of the most common crosses performed in soccer.
A chipped cross is played high and wide. The player strikes the ball with the instep of the foot as opposed to the typical inside-of-the-foot pass. This pushes the ball higher for a long-distance cross through the air.
A player will perform a chipped cross when the penalty box is congested to pass the ball over the head of one or more defenders to the striker. It’s a slower pass that is best performed when played to a tall player who has a height advantage over defenders or the goalie.
Practice the technique of the chip cross until execution is clean and accurate, then focus on adjusting your power.
An inswinging cross is sent from a wide angle of the field. The player strikes the ball from a wing or corner kick, so it bends toward the goal. It is a pass generally made by right-footed players on the right side of the field and left-footed players on the left side.
The momentum of an inswinging cross is toward the goal, and the passer is often looking for a player to perform a header.
An outswinging cross is sent from the same place as an inswinging cross, but it bends away from the goal. The outswinging cross is the most common form of crossing the ball in soccer.
The curve of the ball sets it in an ideal place for the striker to run forward and take a shot or header.
Grounded crosses, or low crosses, are when the passer kicks the ball on the ground toward the target player inside the goal box. The player on the run calls for the ball while approaching the goal, so the kicker knows when to make the pass.
The grounded cross is typically the easiest to perform, but it offers more opportunity for the defense to steal the ball and make a counterattack.
What Is the Difference Between a Deep Cross and an Early Cross?
A deep cross and an early cross vary based on where the player is standing when they cross the ball.
A player sends an early cross from 16.5 or more meters away from the goal line. A deep cross takes place 16.5 meters or fewer from the goal line.
Additional Tips for Crossing the Ball
- Cross the ball anywhere in the attacking third of the field. You don’t have to make it to the end line or corner to cross the ball.
- Always pick a target before crossing the ball. You won’t always hit the target, but the goal is always to get the ball to a player in scoring position.
- You can practice crossing the ball alone on the soccer field. Begin by practicing with a stopped ball, then move on to crossing with a rolling ball. Practicing with an idle ball means you’ll improve your free kick skills at the same time.
- If you have others to practice with, have them pressure you to create a more game-like scenario.
- Don’t forget to follow through with your kick and continue playing once you made the cross. Be prepared to continue the attack or transition to defense if the cross is deflected.
Crossing the ball is not a soccer skill you’ll learn overnight. However, repetition is the key to developing a cross that can help lead your team to championships. Adding crossing to your repertoire will help you especially if you are a winger.