How to Cross a Soccer Ball

As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.

A cross is a move in soccer that involves kicking the ball across the field to teammates. It is one of many types of passes in soccer, and it can be used as an offensive or defensive maneuver. When executed properly, a cross can lead to goals or assists for teammates on either side of the field.

The cross is a fundamental technique in football. It is a pass made from the side of the pitch to a teammate in the center or to one on the far side of the pitch. The cross can be used as an attacking move, aiming to score a goal, or as an assistant for someone else to score.

​How to Cross a Soccer Ball

Although wingers should deliver a cross properly, they shouldn’t be the only position that can whip a ball in effectively. All soccer positions may have a shot at crossing—except for maybe center backs. You’re never too far into your soccer career to learn how to cross a soccer ball properly.

A man in a white soccer jersey is preparing to do a cross with the soccer ball

First and foremost, a cross will look different every time. There is no “perfect way” to cross a ball—it’ll change depending on the situation in the game. However, to learn how to cross a basic ball, just follow these steps.

​1. Approach the Ball at a Curve

​Crossing the ball involves putting the ball into the center area of the field (the box) from an outside position. As such, you need to kick the ball in a perpendicular manner across the field.

  • Sometimes, you’ll be wanting to cross the ball completely perpendicular, such as when you’re in the corner of the field. The most obvious example of this is when taking a corner kick. Obviously, you don’t want to kick the ball any more forward down the field when crossing it – the ball would be out of bounds at that point!
  • At other times, you’ll want to cross the ball at less than a 90 degree angle. An example of this would be when you’re bringing the ball down the pitch, and are still a decent ways out from the corner flag. You might see a streaking striker and want to put the ball into them in the box.
  • In either circumstance, though, you will need to be kicking the ball across the field. As such, when going to cross the ball, approach it at a curve. This curved approach will help you create the perpendicular angle and “whip” to your cross.

Let’s say you are on the right side of the field and want to cross the ball to your left. You should curve your run outward—to the right of the ball. This approach will give you the proper angle to strike the ball at just the right spot. When struck with enough power, the ball will swing to the left.

​2. Locate Your Target

​It’s crucial that before your high quality soccer cleats for flat feet makes contact with the ball, look up and point out where you want the ball to go. Looking up and spotting your intended target is key to accurate delivery of your cross.

A lot is happening in the build up to crossing a ball. Chances are you are barrelling down the field at full speed, and you might have an opposing defender close by covering you. You might be trying to hit a running teammate in full stride.

All of these things factor in to where your cross is going to need to end up. By looking up and taking note of where you want the ball to go, you will be a lot more accurate.

Close up of a white soccer ball in the middle of the field

​3. Pinpoint Parts of the Ball

​A soccer ball is divided into separate parts. Making contact with a certain part of the ball will dictate the way it leaves your foot. These are the same techniques you use when passing a soccer ball.

  • If you want to drive the ball into the box on the ground, you’ll need to make contact right in the middle of the ball. This is a cross that needs power to work its way into the feet of your teammate.
  • If you want to pick the ball up in the air, aim for the bottom of the ball. This is often the most popular and common way to cross a soccer ball.
  • Putting air under your cross will allow it go to travel further. You can also work the ball into spaces that you otherwise wouldn’t be able to. And, it gives your teammate the chance of heading the ball into goal.
  • If you want it to curve in, meet the ball at an angle on the side closest to you. You’ll still need to add air if you want the ball to travel with lift. In this case, hit the ball at angle while also striking the bottom of it.

​4. Send the Cross and Follow Through

​Just like when you are shooting the ball, you should place your standing foot (the one not crossing the ball) near the ball and approach the ball with your kicking foot.

If you want the cross to be in the air, leave your kicking leg high up in the air to follow through.

If you want the cross low and driven, point your toe downward and follow through with your foot in the intended direction.

​Why is Crossing the Soccer Ball Important

​A recent analysis of every goal scored in the Premier League during a season showed that almost 26% of goals came from penalties, set pieces, and corners. Another 16% of goals came from crosses made in the outer wing positions.

This means that over 40% of goals scored were generated from cross or in-ball. Learning how to properly cross the ball is a tremendously valuable skill set and essential to scoring goals in today’s football climate.

Front view of a football field with a white soccer ball in the middle

Pros and Cons of Crossing the Ball

Good for attacksIt can be hard to receive
Great for counterattacksThe team can lose possession
Can catch opponents off guardIt could catch your teammate offside
Can change the direction of the attackIt could go out of the pitch

​Crossing Tips

​It’s one thing to know how to cross a ball; it’s an entirely different thing to do well. Just because you know the steps to take, it will take a while to get good at crossing. As with all things in soccer, practicing your crosses is vital.

The great thing about practicing your crosses is that you don’t need anyone else to be able to practice. As opposed to passing and even shooting, crossing practice can be done all by yourself.

​Begin Practicing with a Stopped Ball

​When you’re beginning, you should practice on a stationary ball or one that you’ve slightly tapped away from you. You should be able to master this stationary ball or self-set-up situation before you move on to crossing from an incoming pass or a rolling through ball.

The great thing about practicing with a stopped ball is that you’ll simultaneously be working on free kicks. So many elements of taking a free kick are similar to a cross, allowing you to work on your skills with a stopped ball.

Girl in a red jersey with a white soccer ball in a field

In many ways, kicking a stopped ball is harder than a ball that is moving. You have to generate all the power for the ball movement yourself without benefiting from its existing movement. Either way, practicing with a stopped ball will allow you to work on the fundamentals first.

​Make it Realistic

​Once you feel confident in crossing a ball that is stopped, you can elevate the practice a bit. Set up a drill where you must beat some defenders before crossing.

Make the drill as realistic and as challenging as possible. Make one move or dribble through cones before having to cross the ball “under pressure,” just like in a real game.

Crossing the ball while on the run is a tough skill to master, but one that you can do with practice. It’s rare in a game situation to be able to cross the ball from a standing position, so eventually, you’re going to have to get good at crossing on the run.

​Aim and Fire

​Although the runs of your teammates are pretty predictable (one will probably run near the post, one will hit the penalty mark, and another will go far post), your cross doesn’t have to be.

Practice aiming to different locations in the box to work on your accuracy so that when the real-game situation comes, you can get the ball to your teammate running in.

​Pick Out the Proper Teammate

​A significant detail in crossing is to think before you kick. If you see a few players running in the box, you need to be able to read the situation in a matter of seconds. Who will you kick it to, and where will they be when the cross arrives? This is the exact spot you need to kick the ball to.

Pick out the players that are strong in the air, good with a ball drilled at them, or in the best position to score.

A man just kicked a ball and skid on the ground while his teammate and opponents are running behind him

Put the ball in a position where they can do something with it. If you kick the ball too close to the goal, the goalie will grab the ball before your teammate can. If you kick it too far from the goal, your teammate will have a harder time scoring.

As your accuracy improves while playing, single out the player who is most likely to score (based on skill level or situational play) and get the ball to them through a cross. Practice putting the right soccer ball in the right spot timed to their run.

​Follow Through and Keep Playing

​Don’t think your job is done just because you’ve whipped the ball into the box. You should be ready for the rebound or if the ball comes back at you. You should also be ready to dash back and transition to defense just in case your team loses the ball in the crossing situation.

Soccer is about these things:

  • moves
  • countermoves
  • anticipating
  • acting before the play has happened

Even though you might have played the perfect cross, it doesn’t mean you’re off the hook. You are still part of the team and should help your team get the ball in the back of the net.

​How to Cross with Both Feet

​It’s already hard enough to play the perfect cross with pressure on you. However, if you can use both feet, you can broaden your horizons and make the entire task much easier.

Let’s say you’re right-footed and play on the left side of the field. With practice, you can improve your crossing skills with both feet. This will help you immensely with versatility in your position and with being a deadly force on the attack.

Man preparing to kick the soccer ball

You’ll also become unpredictable since you can play the ball with both feet. This versatility gives you more chances to get through the defender and the cross-off.

Related Question

Are There Different Types of Cross in Soccer?

Yes, there are different kinds of crosses in soccer. For example, you can send a cross with an outswing or an inswing. On top of that, you can do a chipped cross or a grounded cross.

What Skills Should You Practice to Improve Crossing in Soccer?

To improve at a crossing in soccer, you should practice aim, passing, and teamwork. Also, you need to improve your game vision; this will allow you to send a good cross that leads to a goal.

Who Is the Best Crosser in Soccer?

Kevin De Bruyne is considered the best crosser in the world. However, some historical players like David Beckham were amazing crossers too.


​Learning how to cross the ball is an essential basic in learning how to play soccer—especially if your position calls for it during the game. Learning how to perfect this skill will not only help you perform better as a player, but it will also help you get more assists.

Tim Frechette is an avid athlete, having played sports like soccer and basketball his entire life. He brings a wealth of athletic knowledge to his writing.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.