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Soccer Tackling-Slide Tackling, Poke Tackling, Block Tackling tips

by Stewart Flaherty

Tackling is an important attribute for every outfield player on a team to possess. A team that wins tackles can create turnovers, snuff out opposition attacks and win the possession battle over the course of a game. Different forms of tackle exist and from defenders up to forwards all players should adopt an aggressive mentality when defending and practice their tackling ability.


Different forms of tackle exist and all should be practiced. It is important to remember that the timing of a tackle is very important. The most important aspect of defending is to stay goalside and show the discipline to not be beaten. A player should tackle only when;

  • The ball is close enough to be won.
  • The attacking player takes a heavy touch and the ball is loose.
  • When it becomes urgent due to the attacker being in a dangerous position (i.e. shooting range close to goal).

Types of tackle

Three common types of tackle exist; the poke tackle, block tackle, and slide tackle. This is the order they should be performed in. The poke tackle is common as the defender can attempt a poke tackle while remaining on his feet and if missed can still recover easily. The block tackle is performed with the defender on his feet, but requires more set feet and can be more difficult to recover if the tackle is missed. The slide tackle is used as a last resort tackle when the defender realizes if no tackle is implemented they will be beaten off the dribble by the attacker. There is less room for error with a slide tackle as if the tackle is not won, the defender is off their feet and subsequently out of the play.

Poke Tackle

The poke tackle should be performed when a defender is jockeying an attacker in the defensive stance. The following coaching points should be used when performing a poke tackle;

  • Use the front foot to poke the ball away from the attacking player.
  • Make firm contact to avoid the attacker merely winning possession again after a readjustment. A firm tackle will put the ball either out of play or loose for teammates to contest.
  • Do not look to keep the ball under control from a poke tackle, the main objective is to dispossess the attacking player.
  • Keep body weight on toes, remain alert and ready to move if ball bounces behind or into open play. Feet should never be set during a poke tackle.

Block Tackle

The block tackle is performed with the defender in a standing position. The block tackle requires a firm contact to win possession, it is possible for a player to win possession and keep the ball under control from some block tackles. However the primary focus should always be to dispossess the attacker. The following technical coaching points should be used when teaching the blocking tackle;

  • Standing foot next to ball. This is crucial, not only to get firm enough contact to win the ball, but prodding a leg out off balance can lead to knee injuries on hard contact.
  • Contact the ball powerfully using the side of the foot with the knee over the ball, contacting the ball at the middle line. Defender should focus on the ball not being allowed behind him.
  • Follow through and stand strong, many successful block tackles can result in you holding up the ball and the attackers momentum carrying him over and past the ball.

Slide Tackle

The slide tackle is the last resort of a defender, and should only be used when a defender believes it is the last option before being beaten. While a slide tackle seems glamorous to many young players, it is worth mentioning that if you watch a world class defender such as Paolo Maldini or John Terry they will rarely dive into a sliding tackle due to good positioning. The following technical coaching points should be used;

  • Commit to a sliding tackle only when the attacker is level or slightly past you.
  • Bend one leg and slide with the other straight out to make contact with the ball.
  • Firm contact should send the ball out of play or into a loose area for teammates to contest.


Tackling should be practiced on a regular basis. You must have at least one partner to practice tackling with. You should use a 10 yard box and have a teammate dribble past you in a straight line. Perform 50-100 tackles before rotating and dribbling for your teammate to practice. Methods that should be practiced include;

  • Poke tackle with opponent dribbling in a straight line. Practice tackling with left and right feet.
  • Block tackle with opponent dribbling straight.
  • Slide tackle with opponent dribbling straight.
  • Progress to practicing all 3 tackles above against an opponent who tries to change direction and speed to beat you.
  • Play competitive 1 v 1 games.