Tackling to Win

Tackling is an essential skill every player - not just defenders - should execute correctly, otherwise the consequences could be disastrous.

There are three reasons why you should coach players the correct tackling techniques.

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

2. Bad tackles can lead to yellow or even red cards against your players.

3. They might even cause serious injury to an opponent or the players themselves.

The first lesson to teach players is that they can’t carry out a tackle before they GET IN RANGE. That means quickly closing down the attacker’s space. Once that’s done, there are several ways an opponent can be dispossessed or stopped but two of the most common are the Block and Slide tackles.

The Block Tackle

The Block tackle is mainly used when confronting an opponent head on. As with all tackling, timing is crucial, so players have to recognise the best moment to make a challenge. That could be when the attacker…

... is off balance
... has allowed the ball to run too far in front
... is looking at the ball.


If any of these situations arise, coach your players the following technique:

  • plant the non-tackling foot firmly on the ground to provide an anchor
  • let the tackling foot make contact with the middle of the ball – like a side-foot pass – and be in an L-shape
  • get all their strength and weight behind the ball
  • head down over the ball
  • eyes on the ball
  • bend the knees
  • lock solid the knee and ankle – to maintain strength and to
  • avoid injury
  • be well balanced
  • show a committed attitude
  • ideally, put a foot under the ball to lift it away.

Tell your players to try not to make contact with the top of the ball because they will find it tough to put any force behind the challenge, and also risk missing the ball and fouling the attacker. Also, if they are too low on the ball, it tends to roll over the tackling leg, leaving the attacker with the ball.

And if you can't win it...

Of course, if your players don’t see an opportunity to win the ball, they should defend properly, and that means, among other things, being patient, delaying the attacker and stopping the ball from being played forward.

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