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Top 10 Football Tackling Drills to Be More Effective in Defence

Tackling is a key component in football and important no matter what position you play in. It is especially important in the modern game where high-pressing is so prevalent throughout the sport.

Top 10 Football Tackling Drills

The following article will detail some of the best tackling drills and some of their benefits.

  1. 1v1

One of the most common situations you are likely to encounter on the football pitch is a 1v1. When another player is coming up against you and trying to dribble past you, getting a tackle in is crucial.

In a 1v1 drill ask one player to dribble past another with the defensive player tasked with making the tackle. This drill has plenty of variation and will demand various different tackles in order to be successful.

1v1 tackling

  1. 2v2

Much like the 1v1 scenario, the 2v2 is also very common in-game. Here, two defensive players come up against two attacking players with the defensive team needing to win the ball back.

This sort of drill has even more variety with added players and the passing and movement that comes along with it. Teamwork is important in this drill as is anticipation.

  1. 3v3

The final variation of this drill is a 3v3 where naturally there is even more variation. Six players are involved in this drill and even more passing and pressing options are available. Once again, teamwork is very important as is good timing in the press and the tackle. 

  1. Piggy in the Middle

This is kid favourite can be adapted to make for an excellent tackling drill. Set up with two players facing each other at a reasonable passing distance. A third player goes in the middle and tries to win the ball back by pressing, intercepting, or tackling.

This drill is great for developing stamina, anticipation, and defensive positioning for the ‘piggy in the middle’. It also serves as a useful passing exercise for the other two players involved. 

  1. Rondo

This drill is all about keeping possession of the ball in a circle formation.  The players in the middle must work hard to win the ball back, possibly using tackling to do so. For a more detailed explanation, click here.


  1. Protect the Ball

In this drill, every player is given a ball in a preset grid. The aim of the game is to tackle players as you dribble near them so that their ball goes outside of the grid whilst protecting your own ball.

Once a ball leaves the grid the player who lost the ball is out of that round and exits the grid. The game continues until just one player remains in the grid. This drill mixes dribbling, shielding, and timed tackling and is a lot of fun.

  1. Gate Tackling

Gate tackling uses a lot of the same principles as 1v1 tackling. The key difference here is a more regimented set-up using a ‘gate’ to channel the dribbler.

The gate is set up with two cones at a relatively close distance on either side of the tackling player. The dribbler must then attempt to get past the tackler whilst passing through the gate. This helps mimic the lack of space a dribbler (and tackler) is likely to have during a football match.

  1. Timed Tackling

In this drill, a timer increases the urgency of winning the ball back and adds another competitive element to play. Time how quickly the ball can be won in any drill such as a 1v1 tackle or piggy in the middle.

Tines can then be compared against other players’ times to determine a winner or can be used as a benchmark to try and improve in future attempts.

  1. Race Tackling

Another great drill for upping the urgency is race tackling. In this drill, the ball is placed or kicked away from the attacking and defensive player. Both must race to get to the ball with the defensive player aiming to either intercept the ball or tackle before the attacking player has the ball under their control.

race to ball

  1.  2v1

This is perhaps the least ‘fair’ drill in this list. The defensive player is outnumbered by two to one and must attempt to get the ball back. More often than not, the attacking team will successfully get around the defensive player by using their numerical advantage.

It may be very difficult for the defensive player but using their decision-making they will be able to, on occasion, intercept a pass or make a well-timed tackle. This is a very useful skill as this in-game situation will sometimes arise even if it is ‘unfair’.

The Bottom Line

Tackling isn’t the easiest skill to teach and develops with experience. Good tackling requires timing, patience, and a defensive understanding. If your child wants to improve their tackling and learn football the Brazilian way, why not consider Samba Soccer Schools?

For more information about Samba Soccer Schools, click here.

FAQs About Tackling 

How can tackling be taught to children?

The above article goes into detail about various tackling drills

How do you tackle in football?

The article above has a selection of drills that will help enhance various tackling aspects with practice.

Does tackling hurt in football?

Usually no, but sometimes it can. The aim of a tackle is not to hurt your opponent but to take the ball as cleanly as possible.

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