Tackling is one of the best ways of winning the ball from opponents. Tackling is difficult because in order to fairly win a ball, the tackler must only “go in” when he has an excellent chance of taking control of it or else risk having a referee call a dangerous play.
An aggressive soccer skill, tackling seems to occur regularly in soccer games but it’s often ignored on the practice field. It’s often not recommended to teach tackling to younger players, but if you have highly skilled players on your team that show interest, no matter the age, feel free to introduce them to tackling the right way. Let’s take a look at tackling and break down the movements step by step.
Try demonstrating tackling to your players by using one of your players as a partner and have the team watch. Ask a player to approach you with a ball at his feet at walking pace. Position as near to him as you can. The standing foot, which is slightly bent at the knee, is placed near to the ball and pointing forward (in the direction of travel). The tackling foot should be turned outwards so that it is at a right angle to the approaching ball. Slightly bend the tackling leg at the knee. This foot is then swung back as in the kicking action with the inside of the foot. At the moment the inside of the foot makes contact with the ball, the body is inclined forward and balance is maintained by the arms.
If you have done this correctly, you should now have possession of the ball. Go through this sequence slowly at first, concentrating on putting the weight of your body behind the ball, on making a really firm contact, and going in with determination, otherwise you run a risk of hurting yourself. A tentative tackle is often more dangerous than an aggressive tackle and can result in injury. When you do commit yourself to a direct tackle you will find that it’s an advantage to lean in with your shoulder, providing an extra way of blocking your opponent.
Tackling is an aggressive soccer drill and can have many uses in a game. The first tackle in a game is important for players psychologically. Absolute determination should be displayed. Strength, within the limits of the law, can often undermine an opponent, and get him in the habit of looking for you instead of concentrating on the ball. Once inside a player’s “head”, it can be easy to take the ball away from him all game long.
However, if the first tackle is lost, this will give the opponent. Avoid tackles early on until your team has got the feel of the opponent and the conditions. Once the ball has been stripped away from the opponent, don’t give him a chance of recovery. Move away quickly, and play the ball early.
Tackling is a major technical and tactical weapon for defenders, but in certain situations it can be just as important to attackers. The execution of any movement is always a question of technique and the problem of when and how to use the movement is one of the tactics. Although tactics play a more important role in tackling than anything else, the technical side should be given a lot of time in practice in order to get it right.
Sometimes even legal tackles can be called against you by referees. If this becomes persistent during a game, avoid tackling altogether. Tackling should be used sparingly as part of a complete game. By tackling strongly and fairly, and then passing the ball accurately, you are well on your way to becoming a good defender.