|All your players, including the goalkeeper,
need to be good tacklers.
Apart from the fact that
your players need to be able to win the ball back from an opponent wherever they are on
field, being able to tackle instills confidence in young players.
There's very little in football as satisfying as taking
the ball firmly and cleanly from another player ask any defender!
Types of tackling
There are three ways to tackle another player:
1. Block tackles which can be face to face or from
2. Poke tackles.
3. Slide tackles.
How to teach tackling
Before you begin to teach your players how to tackle,
it's worth emphasising that the objective of tackling is to take the ball from an
opponent, not to hurt the other player or knock them over.
It's the ball they're after, not the player!
When to tackle and when not to
These points should be kept in mind as you teach the
techniques described below.
Players in your attacking third of the pitch should try
to force a passing error or take the ball from the other team as quickly as possible.
Immediate, close pressure on the ball carrier will often achieve this and sometimes there
is no need to actually make a tackle at all.
However, if one of your players even has half a chance to
make a tackle near to your opponent's goal they should take it without hesitation.
A defender's main job is to prevent an opponent from
scoring, it is not to win the ball.
With that in mind, a player facing an opponent in their
own defensive third should be thinking, "how can I force this player to a place where
they can't shoot?" rather than, "I'm going to tackle this player".
This is especially true if the defender is 1v1 with the
attacker. Many goals are scored by attackers who have been gifted a clear shot by a
defender who dives into a tackle before their team mates have got into covering positions.
The face-to-face block tackle what to tell
- Get close but not too close to your opponent about
two to three feet is ideal.
- Keep your eye on the ball.
- If the ball carrier lets the ball get slightly away from
him or her, immediately get your non-kicking foot alongside the ball.
- Lock the ankle of your kicking foot (the foot you're going
to tackle with).
- Bend your knees slightly to give your body a low centre of
gravity this gives you more power.
- Now get really close to your opponent and strike the ball
Most importantly (and this applies to all tackling
situations) a player must not go in half heartedly. Good tackling is as much about
confidence and controlled aggression as technique.
The block tackle from the side
If your defender is chasing an opponent, he should never
attempt a tackle until he is alongside or in front of them tackling from behind is
very dangerous and against the rules.
If your player manages to get alongside their opponent he
has two choices:
- Keep going and try to guide the other player into a corner
or towards the sideline.
- Tackle them immediately.
If they must tackle (remember, a defender's main job is
to stop shots, not get the ball), they need to get shoulder-to-shoulder with their
opponent then hook their outside foot around and make rapid, firm contact with the ball.
It's vital that your player tries to stay on his feet
during this manoeuvre. Even if he gets a good contact with the ball, it could run loose
and the attacker could continue on their run. If your defender is on the ground the race
The poke tackle
The end result of a block tackle is, hopefully, taking
possession of the ball away from an opponent. The poke tackle, on the other hand, is an
effort to kick the ball away from an opponent. The ball goes out of play or runs loose.
The poke tackle is performed while your player is facing
his opponent. It is simply a sudden, firm "poke" at the ball with the front
The slide tackle
Slide tackling is dangerous, both to the the player
making the tackle and to the player being tackled.
Many, many players have been seriously injured as a
result of badly executed slide tackles or slide tackles carried out correctly on poor
surfaces and now FIFA football's governing body is considering banning the
slide tackle altogether.
For this reason I do not teach slide tackling to my
players and I suggest you don't either. It is much better to teach them to stay on their
feet and not get into the position where they have to make a desperate lunge at the ball
that could break a player's leg.
Teaching the correct tackling technique and helping your
players recognise the right time and place to tackle will boost their confidence and,
ultimately, help your team score more goals.