First and foremost dealing with crosses is very much a psychological strength, so when dealing with a cross or coaching your Goalkeeping to deal with a cross everything must be positive!!
I always start by taking the pressure off them, as a goalkeepers first fear is always dropping or missing a cross, leading to the ball going in the back of the net, this fear transfers to negativity which intern leads them to fall deeper into their goal, drops the team deeper on top of him/her making it even harder for them to come and catch a cross.
Young Goalkeepers should be encouraged to enjoy taking crosses, adopting good, positive starting positions in relation to the ball. Be Confident, bold and brave!!
Adopting high, positive starting positions will not only encourage the Goalkeeper to come and take more crosses it will enable the back four to defend higher, allowing more space for the goalkeeper to attack the ball. With the Goalkeeper adopting a higher starting position and being positive with decisions the wingers will be more obliged to cross the ball further away from goal.
Being in positive positions in and around the goal will create positive decisions, whereas negative positions will automatically create negative decisions!
Onto the technical side of dealing with a cross:
Firstly a goalkeeper should always start with looking at their feet as footwork is the key!! Can you sort your feet out quick enough to readjust to the ball, the best keepers at taking crosses are the most agile, athletic, quick, not just tall or big!!
So do drills in close and quick that will test the goalkeepers ability to assess the flight quickly and readjust feet accordingly, ( short, sharp, steps ) making sure that they take off from the correct foot ( outside knee protects ). Edge slowly backwards and keep changing the trajectory of the ball. Also dont just practice balls in front of the keeper. Work a lot on balls back over head, again start in close!
Basic technical detail:
Take off from correct foot
Attack the ball at your highest and nearest point possible.
Watch ball all the way to hands
Knee comes up for protection and to create power
Attack through the ball when possible, creating power and momentum.
Protect if caught.
If Dropped/Punched readjust back into protect goal.
Communication is a massive part of Goalkeeping and especially when it comes to dealing with crosses, and organising players around you. Short, sharp, loud and early!!
It is Vitally important that goalkeepers attack through the ball, not just get to it! Attacking through the ball creates all the power and momentum needed to withstand knocks or bumps on contact.
Balls back over head, work feet SIDE ON, short, sharp, fluent steps, Quick feet are vital and if stretching to catch go down with the ball to maintain safety and momentum through it.
If Collecting through a pack of players keep going through them, dont stop in the middle! this will enable you to see the whole picture in front and set the tempo for quick distribution.
To conclude, its great to watch goalkeepers who express themselves in games! Don’t be afraid of missing a few crosses especially in training as this will help you develop and learn. Stepping deeper into the goal will always make it harder not easier. so step forward, be bold, brave and reap the rewards!!