Catching a High Cross

The ability to deal with crosses coming into the box is one of the most highly rated skills a top goalkeeper can have. A goalkeeper who can deal calmly and effectively with every ball that is played into the box will instil confidence in his teammates, while at the same time demoralizing the opponents.

Being able to deal with a high cross takes tremendous concentration. The goalkeeper must be able to shut-out all outside distractions and only focus on the ball, even when he must go into high traffic areas where collisions with opponents and teammates are likely.

When dealing with crosses a goalkeeper must be decisive, and once he has made the decision to come for the cross, he must do so with 100% conviction. Hesitation in these situations is often disastrous.

Goalkeeper - Unknown

Preliminary Movements

The goalkeeper should stand with feet shoulder width apart and a slight bend in the knees. Hands should be held at waist height or just sligtly above with the elbows lightly tucked in next to the body. Hands should be held in the "Ready" position with thumbs almost touching and index finders slightly apart, the wrist are rotated so that the palms of the hands are pointing slightly towards the ground. The goalkeeper should adopt an open stance with the back foot angled slightly behind and the legs and feet pointing out towards the center of the goal area. Weight should be on the balls of your feet. The eyes should be focused on the ball. The goalkeeper should take a moment to assess'judge the flight path of the ball before moving. Once the flight of the ball has been assessed and the goalkeeper has decided to go for it, he must make a loud clear shout of "KEEPER!" For short distances the goalkeeper can use short shuffles steps to get into position. For balls that are played farther away from the goal, the goalkeeper will need to us longer crosses-over steps to get into position.

Key Points

  • Feet shoulder width apart
  • Hands in "Ready" position
  • Open stance
  • On your toes
  • Eye on the ball
  • Judge flight of the ball
  • Call "KEEPER!"
  • Small steps for short distance
  • Large steps for further distance
Preliminary Movement - Catching a High Cross

Backswing / Recovery Movement

The goalkeeper should continue to keep his eyes fixed on the ball. The hands are still held in the "Ready" position. The goalkeepers last step before he jumps for the ball should be large and exageratted. The goalkeepers last step should be with the foot closest to the goal. The front leg bends deeply with the knee at almost a 90' angle. The lower body (hips and legs) should be facing forwards while the upper body (head and shoulders) are turned towards the flight of the ball. There should be a tight twisting at the waist.

Key Points

  • Eye on the ball
  • Hands in "Ready" position
  • Large last step
  • Step with foot closest to the goal
  • Deep bend at the knee
  • Lower body forward
  • Upper body towards the ball
  • Twist at the waist
Backswing/Recovery Movement - Catching a High Cross

Force-Producing Movement

The goalkeeper continues to focus on the ball. He then pushes off the front leg using all of his strength, flexing each muscle from the biggest to the smallest (thigh-calf-ankle-toes). At the same time the back leg is brought forward while bending at the knee and is driven up into the air. As the goalkeeper swings his knee, the momentum should be used to twist the lower body into line with the flight of the ball so that the goalkeepers whole body is now facing the ball. The goalkeeper should attempt to jump straight up if possible. As he jumps, the hands should be thrusted straight up over the goalkeepers head while maintaining a good catching position. Arch the back to allow your hands to stretch higher while keeping the eyes on the ball. look for as much "Hang Time" as possible.

Key Points

  • Eye on the ball
  • Jump off front foot
  • Drive back leg into air
  • Twist lower body towards the ball
  • Drive hands into the air
  • Arch the lower back
  • "Hang Time"
Force-Producing Movement - Catching a High Cross

The Critical Instant

The goalkeeper should make contact with the ball on the fingers (not the finger tips!). The arms and hands should be relaxed with fingers spread comfortably wide. The thumbs should be almost touching and the index fingers seperated slightly. Eye is on the ball looking through the 'W'indow created by the hands. Try to catch the back and top side of the ball if possible (not the sides, you are not making a "ham sandwhich"). If possible catch the ball at the highest point of your jump. This is the moment when your body is neither travelling up or down, but is perfectly stationary in the air. The whole body should now be turned and facing the flight of the ball. Leg facing the field of play is bent and held at a 90' angle. When the leg is bent and held this way it prevents opponents from getting in and jostling the arms and hands. Elbows are slightly bent to help cushion the ball. Try to exhale as the ball contacts your fingers to relax the body even more. This will also help if an opponent collides into you as you are trying to catch the ball (won't get the wind knocked out of you). Try to absorb any collisons with the side of your body (shoulder, thigh, outside of the knee, etc.). Always try to catch the ball above head height. This will keep you out of the heavy traffic areas where opponents are and teammates are trying to head the ball.

Key Points

  • Eye on the ball
  • Contact made with fingers
  • Relax arms and hands
  • Hands in 'W' position
  • Catch top and back side of the ball
  • Catch at your highest point
  • Whole body faces flight of ball
  • Exhale ("Breathe Out")
  • Absorb collisons on the side of the body
  • Elbows slightly bent
  • Catch above head height
Critical Instant - Catching a High Cross

The Follow-Through

The goalkeeper should try to hold the knee up as long as possible and land on the take off foot. The second foot should touch down just slightly afterwards. Try to hold the ball above head height for as long as possible, especially when in heavy traffic areas. Do not bring the ball down too quickly as you run the risk of bouncing the ball off an opponent or teammates head, causing you to drop the ball. The goalkeeper should now be advancing to the top of the box with eyes scanning the field of play for any quick distribution opportunities.

Key Points

  • One footed landing
  • Hold knee up as long as possible
  • Hold ball above head height
  • Move out of traffic
  • Scan the field for quick distribution
The Follow-Through - Catching a High Cross

Game Footage

Goalkeeper - David James
Goalkeeper - Graham Little
Goalkeeper - Julio Cesar

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Goalkeeper - Unknown
Goalkeeper - Unknown
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