How to teach the slide tackle

The slide tackleWhat is a slide tackle?

The slide tackle is usually used when the attacker and defender are running in the same direction and the attacker’s threat is such that the defender must stop them immediately…
a word of warning!

Mis-timed or poorly executed tackles can result in free kicks (or penalties) against your team and….

  • lead to yellow or even red cards against your players and…
  • cause serious injury to an opponent or the player themselves.

What to tell your players about slide tackling

1. Watch the ball

When an attacker is running at you with the ball, it’s difficult not to concentrate on her body movements. Doing so, however, could cost you a tackle.

More than a few flashy forwards have tricked a defender out of her socks while only nominally touching the ball. Such situations, however, can be avoided by keeping your eyes on the ball. If someone is trying to dribble by you and she’s coming right at you, you’ve got to watch the ball. No matter where the attacker’s body moves — she can go right, she can go left — the ball always sits still.

2. Don’t tackle unless it’s necessary

The best place for a defender to be is on her feet, not on the ground, and so one should resist the temptation to leap at an opponent’s ankles every time the opportunity presents itself. It’s better to contain the forward and prevent her from penetrating. You should also try to work with your fellow defenders to close off the attack without direct confrontation.

If you are the last line of defence, it is particularly important to remain upright. If your slide-tackle fails, your opponent’s path to the goal will be clear.

Any time you dive in, there’s a chance of you getting beaten. Even if you do dive in and get the ball, it can always bounce or deflect off your opponent and get past you.

3. Wait for your opponent to separate from the football

As long as your opponent has the ball at her feet, he’s in control and a slide tackle could be suicidal. Wait for her to knock it ahead two or three feet before tackling.

If you tackle when it’s at her feet he can knock it away from you or dribble past you.

Timing is the crucial ingredient, both for safety and effectiveness. But the quality of the timing is elusive. If you don’t have the right timing, your opponent is going to run right past you.

Note: Developing timing requires constant practice, but it is not really something you can do in practice. Kids always want to practice slide-tackling, but be content with demonstrating the technique. The more they play, the better they’ll get at it.

4. Be decisive

Every time a good defender player tries to complete a tackle, he takes the attitude that he is going to get the ball. That’s the way you have to think.

Mentality is important, especially at the highest level where the difference between success and failure can be confidence. Players can’t hesitate, or they’ll be beaten.

When you decide to go down, you have to go down. You can’t think twice about it. If you go into a tackle halfway, you can get hurt. Decide 100 percent that you are going, and then go.

Knowing when to go requires instinct built through experience, and it requires the ability to read the game. All these come with match practice.

5. The angle of attack

Do not attempt to slide-tackle an opponent from behind or from the front. It’s dangerous and almost always results in the referee calling a foul or even a straight red card. The only way to safely slide tackle someone is at an angle.

Alternatively, while racing alongside an opponent, wait for her to separate from the ball. Then step into her path, between her and the ball. Step right into her line. Now you’ve got the ball, and you can shield it. Chances are, she’ll trip you or foul you because you’ve cut her off.

Protect Yourself

The first law of slide-tackling concerns safety. It begins with shinguards. Full guards may not be as comfortable as smaller models, but defenders don’t really have a choice. Nor do they have a choice once the decision to tackle has been made. Don’t take it easy! You must go all out.

The mechanics are important. Tacklers should keep their leg unlocked with a slight bend. Then when you get to the ball, extend your leg through it. Make sure you get the ball right on your shoelaces and swing your leg through it.

Get The Ball

If you don’t get the ball your goalkeeper will most likely be picking the ball out of the back of the net in a matter of moments. Make sure you get the ball.

Coach your players to:

Approach from the side and tackle across the path of the opponent – REMEMBER, THE TACKLE FROM BEHIND HAS BEEN OUTLAWED

  • Decide early whether to knock the ball out of play or ‘hook’ it to win possession
  • Be decisive and committed
  • Tackle using the leg furthest from the ball and keep it slightly bent
  • Tuck the leg nearest the ball underneath the backside and ideally slide on the outer thigh
  • Kick through the ball, or get the ball on the shoelaces (instep) and swing the leg around in a wide sweep to ‘hook’ or trap the ball with the foot
  • Meet the ball solidly and make contact with the centre to top half of the ball so it doesn’t roll over the foot
  • GET BACK UP as quickly as possible, whether the tackle has been successful or not