How to slide tackle in footballsoccer

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 the side.

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 your players

  • 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 firmly.

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 is over!

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 foot.

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.

Bottom line

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.

This article was co-authored by Bernat Franquesa. Bernat Franquesa is the Co-Founder and Head of Methodology at APFC (Albert Puig Football Concepts), a youth development program for players and coaches with headquarters in San Diego, California. APFC provides soccer training for youth and educational content and consulting services for coaches, academies, and clubs. At APFC, Bernat is responsible for co-developing and applying technical guidelines for player development programs. He has been coaching soccer in Catalunya and the US since he was 15 years old.

There are 8 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.

This article has been viewed 88,064 times.

There are a number of tackling options in soccer and the slide tackle is considered the riskiest and flashiest, but it can make for an incredible play if performed properly. The basic form includes sliding on your bent leg while taking the ball with your extended leg.

How to slide tackle in footballsoccer

Bernat Franquesa
Licensed Soccer Coach & Head of Methodology at APFC Expert Interview. 3 March 2020.

  • If you aren’t keeping pace with them and they start to get ahead of you, don’t slide tackle as you’ll be more likely to get carded for tackling behind. Your opponent should be at most about 1 step ahead of you, as you’ll make up that ground with the slide.
  • Slide tackling is only recommended as a last resort if your opponent is getting too close to scoring. If you can get the ball away by other means, you should do that instead of a slide tackle.

How to slide tackle in footballsoccer

How to slide tackle in footballsoccer

Bernat Franquesa
Licensed Soccer Coach & Head of Methodology at APFC Expert Interview. 3 March 2020. A slide tackle is useful for knocking the ball away from your opponent, especially out of bounds if you want to slow the play down. You can also use it as a steal to gain possession of the ball. What you want to do with the ball will slightly affect the technique you use for the tackle. [4] X Research source

  • If you simply want to kick the ball away from your opponent, you don’t need to worry as much about your exact foot placement. If you want to hook the ball toward you and keep possession of it, then you need to have good control of how your foot connects with the ball.

How to slide tackle in footballsoccer

How to slide tackle in footballsoccer

How to slide tackle in footballsoccer

How to slide tackle in footballsoccer

How to slide tackle in footballsoccer

How to slide tackle in footballsoccer

Bernat Franquesa
Licensed Soccer Coach & Head of Methodology at APFC Expert Interview. 3 March 2020. Make contact either at the center of the ball or slightly on the top half. If you hit the ball too low it is likely to roll over your foot and cause you to lose control of it.

  • Best case scenario is that you make contact with your laces as this gives you more control. Never make contact with the bottom of your foot.
  • This is the point when timing is most important because you can easily miss the ball and make contact with the other player, which is not what you want to do.
  • To knock the ball away, simply make good contact with your laces and your opponent should lose control. You can try to knock it out of bounds, or you can try to knock the ball toward one of your teammates

Tackling in soccer can be dangerous.

Choosing the wrong tackling technique to use in a specific moment can result in a yellow or red card, a suspension, or may even result in an injury for either player.

For example, a player using a shoulder challenge from behind an opponent.

This is why it’s crucial for players to know the different tackling options they have to dispossess an opponent throughout a soccer match.

Below, I’ll share four tackling techniques all players must know.

9 Things to Remember When Tackling

There are a lot of decisions that go into making a soccer tackle.

You have to weigh up the risks and rewards for your team, figure out which tackle is best to use, and also make sure you don’t get a yellow or red card.

Here are nine things to keep in mind:

1. Don’t tackle with both feet off the ground

This is illegal and considered to be dangerous play.

2. Never tackle from behind

This is dangerous and will often result in a red card.

A shoulder challenge from slightly behind will also be considered a foul more often than not, but is unlikely to be as dangerous as a sliding tackle.

3. Don’t tackle with your studs up

This can injure your opponent and earn you a booking.

If you’re sliding in, keep your feet as low as possible.

4. Read the position of the ball

Is the ball near enough for you to win?

Make sure to weigh up and judge the distance as best you can.

5. Read the position of your teammates

Is it the right time to put in a soccer tackle?

The situation might be too risky if you’ll leave your team open to attacks if you don’t manage to win the ball back.

6. Where will the ball end up?

If you’re not going to come away with at your feet…

Will the ball go to an opposition player and leave you out of position?

7. Do you need to make a tackle?

Sometimes it makes more sense to let your opponent keep the ball as you shepherd them away from goal.

8. What type of soccer tackle best fits the situation?

While sliding tackles do look spectacular…

You may find staying on your feet and forcing your opponent to make a decision is more effective.

9. Be confident with your tackle

Taking into account all of the above…

When you do decide to tackle, commit to it and do it confidently!

How to slide tackle in footballsoccer

The 4 Soccer Tackling Techniques

Below I’ve listed the four important tackling techniques that all players need to know.

With a little practice, this will give players the ability to legally and safely tackle and dispossess an opponent anywhere on the pitch.

Let’s get started.

1. The Poke Tackle

The poke tackle is usually performed in two situations:

  1. When players are facing each other
  2. When players are running alongside each other

It involves the defender putting their foot in to ‘poke’ the ball away from their opponent.

The defender must lead with their front foot and aim to make contact with the ball as firmly as possible to put some distance on the ball.

To execute the poke tackle correctly, the defending players needs to be alert, light on their toes, and ready to poke the ball away when the opportunity arrives.

2. The Block Tackle

The ‘block tackle’ is one of the most common soccer tackles in the game.

When deciding to use this type of tackle, a player should be a few feet away from the opposing player with their eyes locked onto the ball.

If the ball comes into range at any time and it seems like they’ve allowed the ball to get slightly too far away from them, extend your foot and plant it firmly next to the ball.

To give yourself more balance and a lower centre of gravity, bend your knees slightly.

Lock the ankle of your tackling foot and strike the ball away from your opponent.

3. The Shoulder-to-Shoulder Challenge

This should only be attempted when players are running adjacent to each other.

It involves the defender attempting to “barge” their opponent off the ball by pushing into them with their shoulder.

When using this technique, it’s important to use the right amount of aggression and power as too much will send the opponent flying and result in a free kick being awarded to them.

For this reason, it’s best to use the shoulder challenge only if you can’t poke the ball away or shepherd them away from the goal.

4. The Slide Tackle

The slide tackle should be a defender’s last resort.

Winning the ball back through a slide tackle can be very satisfying if done correctly, but can go horribly wrong if your timing or technique aren’t perfect.

Mostly because it’s impossible for a defender to control their momentum after leaving their feet.

But obviously there will be situations throughout a match when this tackle is appropriate, so use this x-step guide to learn how to do one.

The best case scenario is to use teamwork and smart positioning first so you don’t need to slide.


There are a number of different ways to tackle in soccer.

Some of them involve sliding in or nipping in front of your opponent at the right time, others can simply be a well-timed shoulder challenge or a stuck out foot.

Depending on which soccer tackle you choose to use, you’ll need to focus on timing and technique while also thinking about the level of aggression you need to use.

Make sure you practice all four tackles talked about in this post.

How to slide tackle in footballsoccerWhat 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.

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.

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.

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

Free Soccer Training video focused on how to slide tackle. At Online Soccer Academy (OSA) we make BETTER Soccer Players / Football Players through FREE soccer tutorials. We inspire athletes that if you Believe in it® and back that up with hard work, anything in life is possible.

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A slide tackle is a defensive play to win the ball when you are just out of reach to get the ball from a standing position. When possible you should stay on your feet and defend from a standing position. When it’s a last resort or when the situation calls for it, you should slide tackle.

For the hook tackle it’s used to hook the ball away from an attacker’s feet. Typically it works when an attacker is dribbling side by side with you.

Key Points

Key Point #1 – Slide with your leg closest to the ball. This will get your foot to the ball faster versus using your foot farthest away from the ball.

Key Point #2 – Lock your ankle and curl your foot back towards your shin. This creates the “hook” in your foot to steal the ball.

Key Point #3 – Time your tackle. You want to time the tackle when the attacker has their lead dribbling foot in full stretch and their foot is touching the ball.

If you catch the attacker at this point in their dribble you will time it perfect because they won’t be able to take another touch.

If they look like this and aren’t in full stride with their dribble then when they see you slide tackle they are in position to quickly take a touch sideways or forward to avoid your tackle.

Can’t repeat this enough. Timing is so important! Takes practice, patience and experience.

It’s not a perfect science, but it increases your chances of winning the ball.

Key Point #4 – Pop Up quick pushing off the ground with your hands if needed. Get up quick from a tackle and you will look legit. Not to mention you will be ready to make a pass or dribble right away.

If you miss the tackle so what! That happens. React positive and hustle back on defense.

Key Point #5 – Listen to your gut. Don’t over think the hook slide tackle. You shouldn’t be running next to an attacker thinking, should I do it now? How about now? What about now? When your gut tells you to do it, do it! Don’t over think it.

Key Point #6 – Be confident. Have no doubt in your mind that you will win the ball. Yes, you won’t win it every time but mentally you need to believe you will. No doubt! Believe in it®!!

Key Points on what NOT TO DO

Do NOT try to hurt anyone. Do NOT try to foul. Yes, tackle hard and put fear into your opponents, in a politely classy kinda way, but don’t ever try to hurt anyone. Be respectful of your fellow players and their careers.

For the hook tackle, it’s more of a graceful tackle versus a tough hard tackle anyway.

Equipment Needed

For this exercise you will need a ball and two cones. If you have a partner that would help too!

Exercise Player Can Do

First start off by getting this technique down. Practice a few reps of going to the ground from a stand still.

Once comfortable pass the ball to the cone in front of you about 10 yards. Sprint to it and imagine an attacker is dribbling it. Then do the hook slide tackle, win the ball and sprint back to your start cone.

By adding the positive reaction of sprinting back after you win it this will help you react quicker in games.

Do 5 reps, then repeat a few sets.

If you have a partner, then have your partner dribble to the top cone and you hook tackle it away from them when you time it right. Then sprint to start cone. Do a few reps then switch.

What Player Could Be Doing Wrong

Some things that could be going wrong. If you keep missing the ball then your timing is off. Make sure you time it so the attacker is fully out stretched with their touch.

Bonus Tip

Wear warm up pants and practice on soft, wet grass when possible. If you practice on hard grass, dirt or concrete you are going to be hurting after!

This Video Covers:
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Table of Contents

  • What is slide tackle in soccer?
  • Slide Tackle Pros and Cons
  • FAQ

What is slide tackle in soccer?

A slide tackle is a type of tackle in soccer used by a player to get possession of the ball for his team. The player performing the tackle will slide into the opposing player, but must be careful not to do so from behind or they risk getting a yellow card or red card if they make contact with anything other than the ball first or make a reckless tackle.

Slide Tackle Pros and Cons

A slide tackle is when a player goes into a feet first slide towards the ball, with the goal of completing a successful tackle. The benefits of this over a regular tackle are that:

  • The tackler, if successful, is able to tackle even if the attacker is larger than the defender.
  • The tackler, if successful, is able to tackle without making contact with the other player.

However, this move is risky as any contact with their cleats on something other than the ball can be called a foul and often results in a card. The punishment for poorly timed or malicious slide tackles is often a card because it puts the attacking player at risk for injury.

What is considered an illegal slide tackle?

There are several ways that a slide tackle can move from legal to illegal territory. If a player does any of the following, the tackle can be called for a foul or even given a card:

  • Tackling from behind
  • Endangering the safety of the player with the ball
  • Making contact with the opponent before the ball
  • Coming into contact with the opponent with a raised leg or cleat during the tackle

Why can slide tackles be so dangerous for players?

Illegal slide tackles can be dangerous due to the possibility for injury that they bring with them. If a player slides into another player and hits their ankle or knee, that player can very easily injure themselves. Ultimately, the rules that regulate slide tackles are in place to keep players safe and protected.

How to slide tackle in footballsoccer

Soccer, also known as football, is one of the most popular sports in the world. It is highly popular amongst the masses and is followed avidly. The popularity of the sport can be judged by the fact that the soccer world cup has more following than the Olympics.

Depending upon the formation used, there are usually four to five defenders in a game and their job is to prevent the players of opposing teams from scoring goals. In order to do so, they have to include a few tactics into their game.

The sliding tackle is a skill that is used by defenders as a last resort. When no other options of engaging the opponent to remove the ball from his possession are left, a defender makes a sliding tackle. Although the skill is not that difficult to understand, the execution is somewhat tricky.

Many players refrain from making sliding tackles as it is risky and at the same time it has its consequences.

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Commitment is the first thing that you need to have if you want to make a successful sliding tackle. This tackle needs a player to put his body on the line.

You should slide on side of your body. The side you chose depends on your comfort zone. Usually right footed players slide on the left side of their bodies and left footed players on their right.

It is important that you extend one of your legs and bent the other to get more balance. This way you will also get more leverage but also save your body from major injuries.

The timing is very important. If you do not make a clean contact with the ball, the referee is more likely to call a foul and you might get a booking. Depending on the situation and the extent of the foul will determine which card you get. If the tackle is a nasty one then be prepared to spend the remaining time of the match on the bench.

What you do with the ball once you have made the sliding tackle is what you will have to keep in your mind. If you think that the best option is to just remove the ball from the opponent’s possession, do so. If the coast is clear and the ball can be passed to your own teammate then you should pass the ball to your teammate. Otherwise, clear it to safety.

Your young soccer players will love practising these slide-tackle soccer drills. But make sure you tell them that usually the slide tackle is a last-resort method to stop a player with the ball advancing on goal and it buys some time for your team to reorganise in defence or regain possession of the ball.

A slide-tackle soccer drill session is all about:

  • Last resort defending.
  • Knocking the ball out of play.
  • Winning back the ball.

How to slide tackle in footballsoccer
What players need to think about in this drill

  • Approach from the side.
  • Wait until the attacker separates from ball.
  • Use the leg furthest from ball.
  • Tuck the other leg underneath backside.
  • Slide on outer thigh/hip.
  • Tackle with shoelaces.
  • Contact centre to top half of the ball.
  • “Hook” the ball in opposite direction so keeping possession, or knock it out of play.

Soccer drill set up

In this drill, set up a few coned-off areas around 10 x 20 yards and get your players into pairs. They need a ball to use for the tackling.

What players have to do in the drill

  • Each player leaves a short distance between themselves and a stationary ball, before running to it and performing a slide tackle.
  • In pairs, players take it in turns to roll or pass the ball forward to themselves, chase after it and attempt a slide tackle.
  • To progress the soccer drill both players stand at one end of the grid. The first player, acting as an attacker, dribbles forward steadily at half speed so they can be caught, before the second player, the defender, begins their run and slide tackle.
  • Swap roles and have players working on slide tackling with their left and right foot.

Put the drill into a game situation

  • Play 1v1 in in the grid but add end zones.
  • The ball starts in the centre with both players at one end of the grid.
  • Play begins with both players running to the ball.
  • Player A attacks the end zone opposite, while player B attacks the end zone both players started in.
  • Points can be scored by dribbling into their respective end zones or for well-executed slide tackles.
  • The ball is placed in the centre following a successful dribble, but players should alternate ends for the re-start. Roll-ins or dribble-ins can replace throw-ins.

Click here for more soccer drills and coaching tips on the slide tackle.