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The Lost Art of the Soccer Tackle

Why Every Player Should Learn How to Perform a Soccer Tackle

All the exciting shooting, passing, and fancy moves you see in a soccer match all have one thing in common:

They require the ball.

So before any kind of play can begin, the ball must be won.  This is where the soccer tackle is important as it allows you to win the ball from your opponent.

Basic Tackle Technique

Some things to keep in mind when performing any kind of tackle:

  • Keep your eye on the ball, not the player
  • Use the side of your foot to make contact with the ball, when possible
  • Make your challenge when your confident that you’re going to win the ball
  • Be firm, and use your entire weight when making a tackle
  • Take care to time your tackle expertly to avoid drawing a foul

Two Common Tackles

There are 2 main types of soccer tackles that are regularly used in a soccer game.  A number of less commonly seen tackles can also be performed, depending on the situation you find yourself in. 

Learn and master them all and you become a player other teams will absolutely dread playing against...and isn’t that every player’s goal?

Front Block Tackle

The front block tackle is used when you and the opponent are facing each other. This often resembles what many players refer to as a 50/50 ball.

As your opponent approaches, step in with all of your body weight and use the side of your foot to block, and hopefully win, the ball. For some extra emphasis, lean your shoulder in. The more momentum you carry into your tackle, the easier it will be to win the ball.

Remember however, to only make contact with the ball so as to avoid drawing the foul.

Slide Tackle

The slide tackle is one of the few defensive plays that, when done properly, can actually look spectacular.

The goal of the slide tackle is generally to poke or deflect the ball away from your opponent, rather than actually win possession for yourself.  This is usually because the slide tackle is made from awkward angles or dire circumstances.

Keep in mind though, that the tackle is usually a last ditch attempt to dispossess an opponent rather than the first thing you should attempt. 

If you miss, you have now taken yourself out of the play, and likely given up a good scoring opportunity. Be double sure when comitting to a slide tackle.

Uncommon Tackles

Slide Block

A second type of slide tackle, known as the slide block, is slightly different but still involves sliding to dispossess your opponent.  This is performed when your opponent is either in front of you, or approaching you from an angle.

Instead of attempting to poke the ball away from your opponent the goal of the slide block is to win the ball.  The shin is used to block the ball in a way that’s similar to the front block, and the block will likely result in your opponent being tripped up. 

As long as contact is made with the ball first, the tackle is perfectly legal. However, it can be risky as many referees will call any contact that results in a player being tripped up as a foul.

Keep in my though the initial advice with regards to slide tackles: It's usually better to stay on your feet. With that said, use of the slide block is an excellent way to dispossess your opponent and win possession.

Heel Block

The heel block is a type of soccer tackle that is not often seen at the higher levels of play.  This tackle is used when both players are running for the ball in the same direction.

The defending player uses their heel to stop the forward progress of the ball.  Anticipating this move, the defender can then turn quickly to clear the ball.

The heel block tackle is similar to a back heel pass; however, you should not wind the foot up and attempt to strike the ball with the heel like in the pass.  The goal is to stop the ball and then turn to clear it.  Striking it too hard could place it in a bad position, especially keeping in mind that you won’t know what’s behind you.

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