Cross (football)

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A footballer practising his crossing before the start of a match

In association football, a cross is a delivery of a ball from either side of the field across to the front of the goal by applying various kicking techniques to provide a goal-scoring opportunity. Crosses are generally airborne but a ball along the ground from a crossing position may be a low cross or a pass.

Use[edit]

Crosses are primarily used for goal-scoring efforts. Players in flank positions, usually wingers, wingbacks and fullbacks, deliver the ball into the central part of the pitch, close to the opponent's goal. Teammates in the central positions, such as strikers and central midfielders, attempt to deflect the delivered ball with their head or feet, depending on the height of the delivery, towards the goal and hopefully scoring.

A player who delivers balls this way is normally acknowledged as a "crosser".

Types of crosses[edit]

Crosses differ qualitatively depending on how far they travel, where they are crossed from, the height of the cross, and what curl the ball has on it.

Chip cross[edit]

The chip cross is a ball that is kicked at the lower panels, imparting a backspin causing the ball to move upward. This is advantageous in close, tense moments near the goal, where a player cannot produce enough power to project the ball upward.

A chip cross is airborne and high. This allows teammates receiving the cross more time to predict where the ball is going to be and position themselves for an attempt to score a goal. Conversely, this allows the defending team to prepare for the deflection towards goal, or for the goalkeeper to run and capture the ball with his or her hands.

Normally, this type of cross is implemented when the team has tall players who can win the aerial battle, or when the crosser is near the goal line, where curving the ball may be difficult.

Inswinging cross[edit]

In the "inswinging cross" or "inswinger" (not to be confused with the cricket delivery) the player applies curl to the ball. More specifically, the ball curves towards the goal while airborne. The advantage of this type of cross is momentum towards the goal, allowing teammates to subtly touch the ball, with the momentum created by the curl sufficient to possibly enter the goal. On the other hand, there is an abundant tendency by the goalkeeper to retrieve the ball if it is too close to the goal.

Inswinging crosses usually arise when a player who is right-footed is on the left side of the pitch (or one who is left-footed and is on the right side of the pitch) and prefers to cross with the inside of the dominant foot, as using the outside of the foot makes it difficult to direct the ball.

The position from which the cross is delivered from can vary: it can be from the goal line, requiring the ball to be aimed further away from goal, but it may also be from a deep position, where the curl produced will direct the ball towards goal.

Outswinging cross[edit]

The "outswinging cross" or "outswinger" is the most common cross among professional teams. Unlike the inswinger, it curves away from the goal.

Many players, when running past defenders with support in the center, will find this variation easier and more successful. In this case, the player has the dominant foot in agreement to the flank they are on (i.e. right-footed player on the right-side of the pitch or a left-footed player on the left side of the pitch). The crosser can simply use the inside of their dominant foot while running.

The simplicity allows the crosser to produce curve and height to their desired teammate. The curve away from goal makes it difficult for the opposing goalkeeper to capture. However, the receiver has to be skilled with one-touch skills and prediction, as the outswinging cross requires more effort and precision to be converted into a goal.

Positions for where this type of cross is delivered from vary. Because it is the inverse of an inswinger, it is aimed closer to goal to deceive the goalkeeper in both cases. David Beckham is well known for playing out such type of crosses quite often. Most of his Assist (football) for his former club Manchester United, have come in this way, as Ruud van Nistelrooy successfully converted these crosses into goals.

Low cross[edit]

The "low cross" or, more simply, "pass" is the easiest way to situate the ball into the center.

It is simply a push pass from close range that travels along the ground. This allows central receivers to quickly use their feet to score a goal. The deception to this is that the defenders find it mundane and can plainly intercept the ball and kick it away. However, the low cross may also have partial spin or may not be a soft pass. Many players find varying their crosses makes it difficult for the opposing team to predict and this is the alternative.

Low crosses may also result from poor skill, where players do not have the ability to kick a ball with the correct conventions. This variation can also be instituted when the team's aerial game is poor, but their agility and ball skill with their feet prevail.

History[edit]

It is apparent that there is a stark lack of high-quality crossers coming through in modern football. "Modern wingers," currently coming through, such as Theo Walcott and Sebastian Giovinco, are far more similar to the typical quick striker, and are molded into this position by their coaches. Players such as Garrincha and David Beckham have become archaic in terms of how they play, as the crossing part of the game appear to be fading away, and this is arguably attributed to the emphasis on dribbling techniques and "tricks" as opposed to distribution techniques.