Knowing the different ways to tackle in soccer will raise your overall game! Tackling is a tough topic in soccer/futbol. Not every parent or trainer or coach instructs the same way; to be honest we don’t all have the same ethical guidelines on this topic and in my opinion. Training should be more purposeful not only on how to tackle in soccer, but when and what rules and principles should guide its use. To start that conversation, I am writing an article today on which foot to tackle with and why. Note: This post contains some affiliate links for your convenience. Click here to read my full disclosure policy.Training is necessary about how and when to tackle in soccer & what rules and principles should guide its use.Click To Tweet
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Knowing how to tackle in soccer has an advantage
When I was young growing up in soccer, tackling was one of my strengths because I was stronger than most players and I love to watch & play American football also. So the fact that I could be aggressive in a sport where not many are aggressive I knew was to my advantage.
The day I found out you can shoulder charge in soccer was a big relief. As a youth I was one of the better players but there’s always room to improve. When my coaches let me train with the older teams, going up against the best players was a challenge because of speed and skill… but I could still out muscle them. 🙂
When soccer players are not physical they don’t like going against physical players. They know that skill alone will not be enough sometimes. In a shoulder tackle, as long as you time it right, you can pretty much hit the player as hard as you can and send them flying. Like I said, the more technical smaller players usually don’t like this style, but it’s part of the game.
Which foot should you tackle in soccer?
Now we can get into the technical part of how to slide tackle or tackle with your foot while staying on your feet… Your back foot is the foot you should use most of the time. This is because you are getting your body weight behind the ball. There are times when you will tackle with your front foot; I don’t care what any coach says, it has to be done sometimes so a coach should not say you HAVE to tackle with your back foot. The coach should say “you need to tackle with your back foot most of the time”.
Tackling with your front foot is for when you have to get to the ball at that very moment. With the front foot your reach is longer, but will not be as strong as if you went with the back foot. When you are standing up to tackle you usually want to go in with the inside of your foot. Try use the part of the foot that is below your ankle, not the inside of your toes/ball of the foot or you could injure your leg.
Knowing the rules in soccer
Not many new soccer parents or players know that tackling is legal – IF done correctly. You often hear the sideline erupt when a player gets knocked down, but if it’s a legal challenge then play on! You have to know the rules right? There are ways to practice this and become more physical, but I think it’s mostly natural. Then again, if I didn’t have good coaches growing up (e.g., Russell Jones, Alvin Alexander & Shane Barden) I wouldn’t have the knowledge I needed.As long as you time shoulder tackles right, you can hit the player as hard as you can.Click To Tweet
Quick shoulder charge rules in soccer
In a shoulder charge you must keep your elbow in at your side. As you are going for the ball that is within 5 yards or so you can bump the player without leaning in and knock them off balance or even to the ground. If you go in with the top of your shoulder and lean in that will be a foul so you have to stay fairly upright as you make contact.
5 No-No’s: how you should NOT tackle in soccer
- Going in with 2 feet towards the ball ‘2 footed challenge’ will result in a red!
- Do not tackle the ball or player with the bottom of your foot… It’s called ‘cleats up’ which is a major foul
- Slide or shoulder charge from behind will result in a foul and most times a red card because the slide from behind is dangerous
- When you slide tackle you must keep your feet as low as the ball or as low as ankle height, or else you could break someone’s leg
- Shoulder charge you must keep your elbow in at your side, because we all know what an elbow to the face could feel like!
Slide tackle in soccer
Again rule #1 is you can’t slide tackle in soccer from behind or it’s an automatic red card. When you slide tackle in soccer you want to tackle with your laces most of the time but you could us the inside depending on the situation. Again the back foot is the one you want to use and you will have your back leg more straight and your front leg will be bent. This is when you are going for power but just like with standing tackles there are times when you can reach and get the ball with your front leg.
Now that I think about it I would always see people tackle with the back leg on slide tackles but there was a player from Chile who I played with at Puerto Rico named Mauricio Segovia and he was very good at tackling and his 6’3” frame didn’t hurt with that long reach. Just about every time he would slide tackle with his front foot. He was tall, smart and good at tackling but he was not fast so maybe this is why he had to adjust and do something a little different than most but hey if you’re good at it who cares.
When should you learn to tackle?
One of the best ways to get good at this is introduce tackling at a young age, maybe 11 or 12. Practice the first couple times in by already being on the ground and make sure you are connecting well with the ball on the tackle. Have a coach or player dribble slow and see if the player who is tackling can time it right. If so then make it more game like in speed of play.
Another thing is practice on some nice soft grass if you can because nobody I know wants to slide and dive on dirt or turf. Rain days are a great time to practice this because you can really get a good slide instead of sticking into the ground.