Soccer Tackling Mechanics

In soccer, a tackle is a defensive maneuver where the defender endeavors to take the ball from the opponent's possession. Unlike the tackling that is at the heart of American football and rugby, a legal soccer tackle must be executed so that any physical contact is incidental to the play on the ball.

A tackle may take various forms, with each technique known by different names in different parts of the world. A block tackle is the most basic form of

Soccer players tackling.
upright tackle. The defensive player approaches the opponent from a front-on position, and while maintaining a low, crouched stance to ensure stability, the defender plants one foot and drives the other low, seeking to strike the ball with the inside of the foot and then secure it from the opposition player. A shoulder charge is a more aggressive challenge brought by the defender, where the defender will make shoulder-to-shoulder contact with the offensive player in the effort to take the ball. The player is not allowed to use the shoulder to knock over or push aside the offensive player, but contact incidental to the challenge is permitted.

The slide tackle is the most dramatic and the most dangerous form of tackle permitted in soccer. By rule, the defensive player is permitted to slide along the playing surface to attempt to take the ball from the offensive player. A sliding tackle will generally be both ineffective and dangerous if the offensive player has the ball in their feet. The sliding tackle is best employed when the offensive player is running with the ball out in front of the body. When executed correctly, the defender begins the approach in a crouched position, beginning the slide with one leg extended. The defender slides across the path of the offensive player to make contact with the ball, knocking it from the possession of the offensive player; there is often quite significant incidental contact with the offensive player being knocked down after the ball has been contacted by the tackler.

When performed in a careless or reckless manner, the sliding tackle has a significant potential for injury to the player being tackled, as the offensive player's knees and lower legs are exposed to the sliding force. The defender will be penalized if the sliding tackle is attempted from an angle where the offensive player cannot see the defender; the defender is subject to ejection from the game if the tackle is made from behind or if, in the opinion of the referee, there was no legitimate attempt to play the ball.

SEE ALSO Soccer; Soccer injuries; Soccer (U.S.) Strength and training exercises.