What Is Off The Crossbar In Football? (Detailed Explanation!)

Last Updated on October 4, 2023 by Alex PT

In football, “off the crossbar” refers to a situation where a shot or a free-kick strikes the horizontal crossbar of the goalpost but doesn’t cross the goal line. It’s a near miss, and the ball remains in play unless it bounces into the goal.

What Is the Crossbar in Football?

1. Definition
The crossbar in football refers to the horizontal bar that forms the top part of the goal, connecting the two vertical posts. This piece of equipment is critical to the structure of the goal and plays a significant role in the game.

2. Material and Dimensions
Typically, the crossbar is made of sturdy materials like metal or wood to withstand the force of a football. To conform to FIFA standards, the crossbar must have a distance of 8 yards (7.32 meters) between the inside of the two goal posts and it should be 2.44 meters above the ground.

MaterialDistance between PostsHeight from Ground
Metal or Wood8 Yards (7.32 Meters)2.44 Meters

3. Role in Scoring
The position of the crossbar is crucial when it comes to scoring. A goal is awarded when the football fully crosses the line between the posts and below the crossbar. If the ball ricochets off the crossbar and doesn’t cross the line, it is not considered a goal.

4. Crossbar Challenge
In football culture, there’s a popular game called the ‘Crossbar Challenge’. The aim of the game is to hit the crossbar from the halfway line. The challenge showcases a player’s skill and accuracy and it’s often performed for training and entertainment purposes.

5. Historic Significance
The introduction of the crossbar greatly impacted the game. Before its inception, a string was used to mark the height of the goal. The crossbar standardized the goal size across different games, reinforcing uniformity in football.

What Does “Off The Crossbar” Really Mean In Football?

Off the crossbar is a situation in football in which the ball is struck against the horizontal post, especially when the ball struck by the striker is deflected by a defender or pushed by the goalkeeper, hits the horizontal part of the post, causing the ball to bounce and change direction, then it is referred to as “off the crossbar.”

Off the crossbar also means that the goalkeeper was unable to punch the ball but luckily hit the horizontal part of the post, or the ball went above the goalkeeper and hit the horizontal part of the post, either to create a goal or bounce off to a defender or another striker then it’s tagged as off the crossbar.

Example of EPL matches with off the crossbar situations 

EPL matches with off the crossbar situations

When the football hit the upper part of the goalpost, which sits on the two parts of the bar then it’s called ‘off the post’. Few football matches fully illustrate the ‘off the crossbar’ experience. 

Manchester United and Manchester City are two rivals and their matchup are always fierce even if both are English Teams. In one feature when United was trialing and urgently needed a goal to equal the tier. Ronaldo’s strike from outside the 18-yard box ricochet off the cross bar. In their next feature, this time at Old Trafford, they needed the home win to secure the top three position to go to the champions league, and again Ronaldo’s shot ricocheted off the crossbar again but this time hitting the net after the ricochet.

No rivalry is more intense than Barcelona and Real Madrid, the El Classico as fondly called by commentators and fans alike. On one particular feature, Messi’s shot was just hitting the crossbar. Three of his shot was so save the foot that still ricochet but this time into the net to give them the overall aggregate lead.

Two types of off the crossbar

Off the cross and ricochet into the net

The first type of  ‘off the crossbar’ is that which the ball shoot by the striker hits the top of the horizontal part of the goalpost but bounces out either to either the defender (who would clear the ball) or another striker (who would take another shot).


In the fixture between Arsenal and Chelsea, Saka took a shot that hit the crossbar and ricocheted off the goalpost, and was cleared by Kante.

Off the cross and ricochet out of goal

The second type of ‘off the crossbar’ is that which the ball struck by the striker hits the top of the horizontal part of the goalpost but this time ricochets into the net. In this case, the ball goes above the goalkeeper hits against the crossbar, and bounces into the net.


In the same fixture between Arsenal and Chelsea, Lukaku dribbled a defender, took a shot that went over the goalkeeper and ricocheted into the net.

Techniques for Avoiding Hitting the Post

To avoid hitting the post in football (soccer), players can employ various techniques and strategies:

  1. Accuracy and Precision: Focus on striking the ball accurately. Practice shooting and passing drills to improve your control and aim.
  2. Proper Body Positioning: Position your body correctly before taking a shot or making a pass. Ensure your body is over the ball, which helps in maintaining accuracy.
  3. Target Selection: Pick your target on the goal and aim for it. Don’t just kick the ball hard; aim for specific areas like the corners where the goalkeeper is less likely to reach.
  4. Use the Inside of the Foot: For close-range shots and passes, use the inside of your foot. It offers better control and accuracy compared to other parts of the foot.
  5. Toe Down: Keep your toe down when striking the ball. This reduces the likelihood of hitting the post and helps in directing the ball more accurately.
  6. Follow Through: Ensure a proper follow-through after striking the ball. This helps maintain accuracy and control over the shot.
  7. Practice Crossing: For crosses and long passes, practice the technique of crossing accurately. Focus on your positioning and timing to deliver the ball precisely.
  8. Visualize the Target: Before making a shot or pass, visualize the target in your mind. This mental imagery can help improve accuracy.
  9. Use the Non-Dominant Foot: Develop your weaker foot to avoid limiting your options. Being able to use both feet effectively can reduce the chances of hitting the post.
  10. Vary Shot Types: Develop a repertoire of different shot techniques, including finesse shots, chips, and volleys, to adapt to different situations and defenders.
  11. Game Intelligence: Understand the game situation and the position of defenders and the goalkeeper. Adjust your technique based on the circumstances to increase accuracy.
  12. Pressure Drills: Practice shooting under pressure. Have defenders or teammates apply pressure during practice to simulate real-game situations.
  13. Video Analysis: Review your shots and passes through video analysis. This helps identify areas for improvement and refine your technique.
  14. Mental Focus: Stay mentally focused when taking shots or making passes. Eliminate distractions and concentrate on the target.
  15. Consistent Practice: Regularly practice your shooting and passing techniques to build muscle memory and improve accuracy over time.

Frequently Asked Questions

What year was the crossbar introduced in football?

 The crossbar is introduced in 1875 in football after the new regulation by the Football Association to replace the tape

What are crossbars made of?

The crossbar is made of aluminum usually with w thickness of about 4 inches.

What is length of the crossbar in football?

The adult football stadium has a crossbar that is 24 foot long. The Football Association ensures that all stadiums follows suit.

What is the height of the crossbar in soccer?

The crossbar is 8 feet tall. This wasn’t the height but the Goalpost Regulation Act ensures that new/existing stadiums strictly adhere to this regulation or risk being banned.

Does shots hitting the crossbar count as a goal?

No, a shot that hit the crossbar doesn’t count as a goal save those shots that ricochet into the net. Shot that hit the crossbar only counts as shot on target/shot on goal but not the goal itself.


The crossbar is an important and horizontal part of the goalpost, and it wasn’t until 1875 that it replaced the tape. The tape brought a lot of discrepancy about if a shot is or not a goal but the crossbar has solved that anomaly by clearly showing if a shot is or not a goal.

Off the crossbar are shots that hit the crossbar. The ball can either ricochet off the goalpost or into the net, if it ricochets away from the net then it’s counted as a shot on target but if it hits the net then, it’s counted as a Goal.



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