Soccer coaches often encourage their players receive the ball across their body. Some even demand it. When I was younger, for one, my coach Brian Jaworski told me that if I watched the English Premier League (EPL), I would see that all the best players receive the ball across their body.
I do watch the EPL a lot, and I’ve noticed that just about everyone receives the ball across their body, not just the best players. This post will explain a little about why this is such an important part of the game for both players in the center of the field and on the wings.
For players who receive the ball in the center of the field, like center midfielders, receiving the ball across your body is crucial for changing the point of attack.
In order to change the point of attack, you must be able to open your hips, allowing the ball to come all the way across your body and enabling you to see the other side of the field. This allows you to switch the ball to the other side of the field before the defense shifts or gives you new options and passing lanes because of the shifting defense. Either way you will be manipulating the defense in your favor.
For players that play on the outside of the field, (outside-mids, wingers, or outside backs), receiving the ball across your body keeps you balanced and able to quickly attack the middle of the field.
When players on the outside of the field allow the ball to come across their body, they stay balanced by receiving the ball with the inside of the foot. If you try to trap the ball with the outside of your front foot, however, you will either be reaching for the ball, making you off balance, showing your defender the ball, or both.
When properly receiving the ball across your body on the flanks, you will be able to attack the middle of the field opening up room for overlapping runs. Also, by cutting into the middle of the field, players will get defenders on their back making it difficult for the defensive player to get the ball and get back into a good defensive position.
Hopefully, by attacking the middle, you will be able to come across the field and get a shot off.