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How to Teach Tackling in Football

Tacking is a valuable skill that every player needs to have, whether they’re a defender, attacker, or even a goalkeeper. Having possession of the ball is key and being able to win it back successfully will make a player a very useful asset to the team. What’s more, being able to tackle builds confidence in young players.

The following article will delve deeper into the art of tackling and how to teach young players to master it.

When to Tackle

The aim of a tackle is to dispossess the opposition player of the ball. There are situations when a tackle is the right option and others where a more prudent approach may be required. Before getting into the nitty-gritty of how to tackle, it’s important that the player understands when they should tackle.

Often, closing down the opposition or cutting a passing lane will force an error meaning there is no need to tackle. Tackles open the door for the player to dribble past you if they are poorly timed so it’s worth judging if they are necessary. This is a skill that children will develop with time and experience.


In defensive situations, jockeying can often be more effective than a tackle. Jockeying well will prevent the attacker from making the pass or shot they are after which is just as important as getting hold of the ball yourself.

Having said this, there are situations where a tackle is the best option. There are several different sorts of tackles which will be described in further detail below.

The Face-to-Face Block Tackle

This is a bit of a hybrid of jockeying and tackling and can be very effective. Keeping your eye on the ball, stay close to the opposition. When the ball is slightly away from them, assume a low block position with your foot planted firmly next to the ball.

A carefully timed face-on block tackle should see the opposition take the ball into your possession with their momentum carrying them away from you.

Side-Facing Block Tackle

If you are chasing your opponent you should always wait until you have caught up before making a tackle. Tackling from behind can be dangerous and will result in a free-kick or penalty for the other team.

If you do manage to get alongside the opponent, you have the opportunity to tackle them. If you opt for the tackle, you should align yourself shoulder-to-shoulder before making firm contact with your closest foot and the ball.

It is important to stay on your feet during the tackle. The ball could run loose even after a good tackle and you’ll have little chance of getting to it first if you are on the floor.

side block tackle soccer

Poke Tackle

The main purpose of this sort of tackle is to take the ball away from the opposition player, but not necessarily into your possession. With a poke tackle, you are most likely kicking the ball out of play or into space.

Whilst facing your opponent, a poke tackle is a quick jab of the ball with the toe. This is all about timing and waiting for a window where you can get to the ball first.

poke tackle

Slide Tackle

Probably the first sort of tackle you think of when you hear the word and probably the last resort when it comes to winning the ball back. Slide tackles can be tremendously useful but they come with plenty of caveats.

First of all, slide tackling can be very dangerous for both the tackler and the other player involved. Badly timed/executed slide tackles can often result in injury.

Another issue with slide tackles is that they are difficult to get right which can lead to fouls. It’s advisable to teach kids to stick with standing tackles as there are few situations where a slide tackle is the best option and fewer where it will actually be successful.

The Bottom Line

Tackling requires patience, timing, and a lot of practice to master. If your child is keen on improving their tackling and learning football the Brazilian way, why not consider Samba Soccer Schools?

For more information about Samba Soccer Schools, click here.

FAQs About Tackling

How do you teach a child to tackle in football?

The above article goes into detail about various different tackling techniques.

How do you tackle in football step by step?

If you want to teach your child how to tackle, the article above has instructions on how to pull off a few different types.

Does it hurt to get tackled in football?

It shouldn’t, but it can. The ideal tackle takes the ball cleanly with minimal contact on the opponent but accidents happen so it’s important to keep that in mind.

Is tackling allowed in soccer?

Yes, tackling is allowed but excessive force or recklessness is not.

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