What Is a Slide Tackle and When Can I Use One?

Slide tackles are a flashy part of the game. They are fun to watch and even more satisfying to perform. As players grow older, they may be tempted to try it out. But if you don’t know the rules or technique, these tackles can cause more harm than good. Rest assured, we’ll everything figured out, so slide tackles can be used safely and effectively.

A slide tackle is maneuver used by a defending player to attempt to take the ball away from an opponent by sliding on the ground. The most common uses of a slide tackle are when an opponent is about to take a shot, an opponent is on a break away towards goal, or when an opponent dribbles too far in front of his feet.

Slide tackles do have downsides. If the sliding players touches the player with the ball, the referee will call a penalty. For the worst offenses, referees issue a red card and will send your player off the field. Not what we are going for!

Or if the slide tackle is unsuccessful, the sliding player could lose the chance to regain possession, which could give the attacking team a wide-open shot on goal. Slide tackles should be taught correctly to avoid injury and penalties. Keep reading as we discuss a few more details.

How to Avoid Penalties?

No one likes penalties. I will give you a general baseline for what to watch out for. A slide tackle is not considered a penalty, but many penalties occur during the act of a slide tackle. If a foul is called, a free kick or penalty kick will be awarded. Just remember referees are people too. Everyone calls and sees the game a bit differently.

Here is a list of seven offences considered to be careless, reckless or using excessive force: (as written from Law 12 of FIFA’s Laws of the Game)

  • kicks or attempts to kick an opponent
  • trips or attempts to trip an opponent
  • jumps at an opponent
  • charges an opponent
  • strikes or attempts to strike an opponent
  • pushes an opponent
  • tackles an opponent

In simple terms, don’t force it! Anytime there is contact, the committing player could be in trouble. Most leagues don’t allow this practice as it puts the attacking player in a ton of danger. Most importantly, never try to slide tackle from behind. It’s bad news all around.

Referees are understandably protective especially with the young players. Even if the ball is touched before the defender touch the opponent, a penalty can be called. The main thing is how they player performs the slide tackle. The referee has some freedom here to call as they see fit, which makes this a bit of a gray zone. Err on the side of safety.

Be sure to check the rules of the league. Many youth leagues outlaw the use of slide tackles to avoid injuries. Young, inexperienced players should stay on their feet. Getting comfortable with the ball is most important. Adding sliding players gets ugly quick.

The Correct Form

So you decided to teach slide tackles… there are a few tips to keep kids safe.

  • Watch the ball: Players should focus on the ball versus the other player. It is common to focus on the opponent. But this can cause your player to miss the target – the ball. Watching the ball gives your player the advantage of where the ball goes after you make the tackle. Advanced players will try to fake out the sliding player causing them to miss. Now, you are at a big disadvantage!
  • Timing is Everything: Slide tackles are an emergency move to regain possession. In most cases, a block tackle will be more than enough to stop the attack.
    • Make sure the attacking player is sprinting. A player can’t change direction as quickly during mid sprint than while jogging.
    • The highest probability to slide tackle is when the opponent uses a big ball push, meaning the ball several steps in front of the attacker. When the ball rolls, it is more predictable than when it is by the players foot. This also reduces the likelihood of a penalty and injury since the ball is further away from the opponent.
    • Look at where the ball is located relative to your player. For instance, the attacking player is dribbling with their right foot. Your player is coming onto their left-hand side. In order to win the ball, a slide tackle must come across the attacking player’s entire body. This decreases the odds of winning the ball.
  • Understand the Different Types: Your players will watch professionals and try to copy their style. They make it look easy! One of the best ways to start slide tackling is to use the leg furthest away from the opponent. This is the easiest to execute.
  • Right Practice Facilities: Recreational or club soccer fields are rough and not well kept. Slide tackling practice on this type of surface could lead to a lot of players getting scraped up. The best times to practice are during rainy practices or on well-groomed pitches. Use pants or leggings to protect your player’s legs from injury.
  • Commitment: A slide tackle is a brave move. Confidence is essential to an effective slide tackle. One shouldn’t perform this move timidly or it will put both players in danger of getting injured.
  • One footed challenge: A two footed challenge will result in a red card. The reason is it can easily snap a leg if they were to get hit by two incoming feet. Teach a one footed challenge to keep it simple and safe.

Check out this video for some more tips…

What Age is Appropriate to Teach Slide Tackles?

The short answer is to check with your club rules on slide tackling. The earliest to start to teach slide tackling is around U12. In most cases, wait until you feel confident that your players have the ability. For instance, if you coach a team that has been playing competitively for a while, they might be ready to learn. Children that are just learning the game need to focus on the fundamentals and should stay on their feet.

Once you make the decision to teach, be thorough in your explanation to avoid bad technique. It is our responsibility to make sure we teach our players correctly.

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