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Handling Crosses #1

by  Don Williams

One of the problems I see most often with keeper is how they handle crosses. Keepers either chase them down like a drunk chasing a balloon or stay on their line and let everyone else deal with them. This brings up a question.

Why is a goal keeper like Dracula?  Because their both afraid of crosses.

Teaching keepers to deal with crosses is a multi step process. The warm-up. Always use the 6 yard box for training crosses. The keepers need this for a reference point. Lay out 5 cones around the 6. (see diagram 1)

The keeper begins by standing just in front of the goal line, runs and jumps for an imaginary ball that is being crossed into each of the 5 cones. First the keeper practices dealing with crosses from the right and then with crosses from the left. Have the keeper practice from each side 3 times and have them stretch in between turns.

Coaching points:

  • The keeper should always have an “open stance” in other words an “open” body position so that they can easily see the whole field. Never should the keeper be only facing the ball. An “open stance will allow the keeper to more easily run in any direction to hunt down a cross anywhere in the 6 yard box.
  • Calling “keeper”. It’s crucial that the call “keeper” be loud and early. Calling “keeper” early allows the defenders time to react. Also most attackers will back off if they hear the keeper call for the ball.
  • Long last step. Upon takeoff the keeper will need to use their last step as leverage by making it a very long last step. Much as an Olympic pole vaulter reaches way out to plant the pole for leverage. For keepers the leg reaching out allows them to fly up high instead of a long way forward.
  • Protection knee. The knee that is closest to the field will need to come up for protection from on rushing attackers. It also helps the keeper to jump higher. Using an imaginary ball may make the keeper feel silly at first but it’s important that the keeper just focus on the jumping technique. As you can see by my coaching points there is allot for the keeper to think about until the technique becomes natural. The ball only makes things more complicated.

In my up coming articles we’ll introduce the ball and move through a 1 + 1, 1 v 1, small sided games and a scrimmage. All dealing with crosses.

Good Luck in training,

Don Williams

Don Williams is a veteran college coach whose coaching career spans 30 years. He coached at virtually every level in the United States, including a pro stint in the USL, the NCAA, NAIA, and at the Junior College level. Most recently, he coached the men and women at Feather River Junior College in California, where he was able to transfer 92 players for $4,375,000 in scholarships having his players recruited by many distinguished schools such as Penn State, UMass, Florida State, UCLA, Lipscomb, New Mexico State, North Carolina, University of Washington and many more. Before coaching at Feather River, Don spent 12 years coaching at California State University at East Bay. Don has also been the men’s head coach at Ohlone College and the goalkeeper coach for the Bay Area Seals of the USL. There he coached such notables as Jon Conway, who went on to play for the NY Red Bulls, Chicago Fire, and Toronto FC of the MLS. Don also served as the inaugural Director of Coaching for the Northern Nevada State Olympic Development program, where he helped 67 players get invited to the US Regional Event. Don is Head of Operations with Sports Recruiting USA for The Americas, the most successful and connected college placement agency in the world. He has earned his "A" License from the United States Soccer Federation.