How to teach block tackling

tacklingIn soccer, the term “tackling” is used to describe any effort to steal the soccer ball or knock it out. Thus, in soccer, a tackle can be on the ground (a slide tackle) or it also can be done upright, either by knocking the soccer ball out as you run along one side of the attacker or done from the front by blocking him from dribbling the soccer ball forward – a block tackle.

What to tell your children about block tackles

The non-kicking foot should be placed alongside the ball (approximately 10″ to the side). The ankle joint of the tackling foot must be firm and locked. The knees should be bent to lower the centre of gravity of the player. This will produce a compact and more powerful shape.

The head and upper body should be over the ball. The hands should be closed (make a fist). This will tighten the upper body.

Contact is made with the inside of the foot. Contact on the ball should be made through the horizontal mid-line and centre of the ball. Quality tackling is as much an attitude as it is technique. Players must develop an aggressive attitude towards winning the ball.

Unlike American football, a tackle really is not supposed to bring the opponent crashing to the turf. Indeed, in many cases, the tackle will be judged as a foul if you do so. As a result, your first job as a coach will be to explain the terminology to your players and make the point that the player is tackling the BALL ITSELF and not the opponent.

The Side Block Tackle

When a defender is beaten and is giving chase, the side block tackle is on of the most effect tackles that a defender can use. While a side block tackle and a sliding tackle can both be effective in dispossessing an attacker, I prefer my players to use the block tackle because it requires them to stay on their feet longer. If the side block doesn’t work, then slide the player.

The side block tackle can be broken down into four main stages:

1. The defender must give chase and run hard to get along side the attacker

2. Once along side the attacker, the defender should then turn into the attacker using the nearest foot to the attacker and leaning their body weight to the nearest shoulder to the attacker e.g. a good old shoulder barge.

3. The defender then crouches down adopting a low centre of gravity, pivots on the standing foot next to the attacker

4. Then with the tackling leg, hook the foot around the ball using the instep and complete the hook turn with force striking through the ball.

Quite often the ball will break free from this type of tackle. So its important to stress to your players that they should stay on their feet. At best the ball will break in their favour and they can then instigate a counter attack. At worst the attacker may initially lose control but the ball still breaks their way, in this instance if your player has stayed on their feet they can still give chase. If they are on the floor they can’t!