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In 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. A cross is there 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.

A footballer practising his crossing before the start of a match

Contents

Usage

As hinted before, crosses are primarily used for goal-scoring efforts. Players in flank positions, usually being wingers, wingbacks and fullbacks, deliver the ball into the central part of the pitch, close to the opponents goal. Teammates in the central positions, such as strikers and central midfielders, attempt to utilize the delivered ball by deflecting it with their head or feet, depending on the height of the delivery, towards the goal and hopefully scoring.

Players who deliver balls this way are normally acknowledged as a crosser.

Variety of crosses

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.

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Chip cross

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 power cannot be produced to project the ball upward.

The intention is to produce a cross, which is airborne and is high. This allows teammates, who are 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's goalkeeper to prepare for the deflection towards goal, or run and capture the ball with his or her hands.

Normally, this type of cross is implemented, when the team usually has tall players due to their obvious aerial invincibility, or when the crosser is near the goal line, where curving the ball may be difficult.

Inswinging cross

The inswinging cross or inswinger variation is not to be confused with the type of deliver in cricket. Even though the observations are the same, this type of cross is the ball having curl applied to it. More specifically, the ball curves towards the goal while being airborne. The advantage of this type of cross is that there is momentum towards the goal, allowing teammates to subtly touch the ball and the momentum created by the curl with be suffice to possibly enter the goal. On the other hand, there is an abundant tendency to retrieve the ball, if it is to close to the goal, by the goalkeeper.

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

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

Outswinging cross

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

Many players, when running past defenders, along with support in the center, will find this variation easier and successful; in this case, the player has his or her dominate foot with 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.

Low cross

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 be a result of poor level of skill, where players do not have the ability to kick a ball with the correct conventions, although at a profession level, low crosses may be less probable for poor skill and more so mistakes.

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

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 oppose to distribution techniques.


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