What is a Soccer Tackle?

What is a Soccer Tackle

During a soccer (football) game, defensive players need to stop the offense from running up the field with the ball to score. The defensive team can stop the opposing player’s momentum with a tackle. A soccer tackle attempts to steal the ball from an offensive player without creating a foul.


A successful tackle, or winning the possession of the ball, pushes the soccer ball away from the attacking people, which in turn stops the offense for a bit. A tackle is a one-on-one moment between an offensive and defensive player during a soccer game.


So, what are ways that a tackle can get you a yellow card or red card during a game, even if you were going after the ball? What is the purpose of tackling during a soccer game? What are the different types of tackles? Here is the complete breakdown of a soccer tackling during a match.


What is a Block Tackle in Soccer?

What is a Block Tackle in Soccer

A blocking tackle occurs when the ball and player come towards a defender. As the offensive soccer player dribbles the ball towards the defender, the defender can block the offensive player’s path and get the ball back to run a counter-offensive attack. Essentially, the defender can plant their feet to disrupt the momentum of the offensive player via this type of tackle.


What is a Poke Tackle in Soccer?

What is a Poke Tackle in Soccer

A poke tackle is best used to push, or poke, the soccer ball away during an opponent’s attack. The concept behind the poke tackle is to disrupt the flow of the dribbler into losing possession of the ball or having to regroup on their offensive drive again if they get the ball back. Commonly a poke tackle occurs towards the sidelines and pushes the ball out of bounds to allow the defense to regroup again.


What is the Shoulder-to-Shoulder Challenge in Soccer?

What is the Shoulder-to-Shoulder Challenge in Soccer


The shoulder-to-shoulder challenge is when two players run next to each other where one has the ball. As the defender, you can slightly bump the player with the ball from the shoulder to lose control of their dribble. The idea behind putting a bit of your body weight behind the push is to get them off balance and for you to retrieve the soccer ball.


What is a Slide Tackle in Soccer?

What is a Slide Tackle in Soccer

A slide tackle is a high-risk and high-reward type of defensive play. The concept behind the slide tackle is to push the ball away from the offensive player, especially if both soccer players are running full speed and you use it as a last-ditch effort. A proper slide tackle could have the offensive player lose the ball and momentum since it will take longer to regain their balance since they will fall to the ground.


How to Perform a Legal Tackle in Soccer

How to Perform a Legal Tackle in Soccer

To perform a legal tackle, whether slide, poke, shoulder-to-shoulder, or block needs to have the tackler make contact with the ball, not the opposing player. For example, the defender needs to slide during a slide tackle and use their tackling foot to push the ball away from the player. For a poke tackle, you don’t want to trip the offensive player as they are running down the pitch. Instead, you want to push the ball away from that player with a quick kick.


When Will You Get a Yellow Card or Red Card for a Slide Tackle?

when will you get a yellow card for a slide tackle

Soccer players might get a yellow card or red card for an illegal slide tackle during the game for a few reasons. The other tackles aren’t as risky, but they can still result in a penalty if they are egregious. Here’s how a slide tackle can result in a penalty in all soccer leagues.


  1. You can’t slide tackle into a player from behind. Performing a behind slide tackle can be a serious foul play, leading to a yellow or red card.
  2. Have both feet in the air as you tackle your opponent. Having both feet in the air means excessive force to disrupt the game’s flow and can cause injuries.
  3. Sliding into a player with your cleats or studs sticking up can hurt the opposing player. You can expect a yellow or red card to follow any time you do that.
  4. A direct free kick can also occur if a defensive player misses the ball and makes contact with the dribbler anywhere outside the penalty area. Depending on how hard of a hit there was on a tackle, a yellow or red card could happen.


What is the Risk of Tackling in the Penalty Area?

A slide tackle in the penalty area against an opponent’s attack is a risky play. It is risky because any interaction with a soccer player in this area can lead to a foul or a penalty kick. For example, the opposing player on offense might try and sell a flop if you bump into them from a foul, which can lead to an automatic penalty kick. The defense should only tackle in the penalty box if it is a last resort.


However, if the offensive player seems to be diving “soccer flop,” it is an automatic possession of the ball change.


What is the Downside of Attempting a Tackle?

What is the Downside of Attempting a Tackle

Outside of getting a yellow or red card for an illegal tackle, there is also the issue of misjudging a slide that can lead to a gap in your team’s defense. For example, a midfielder might try and slide into the attacking player with the ball to break up an offensive push. However, the offensive player might anticipate this slide and juke the defender, leading to a mismatch on defense. A mismatch on defense can lead to the offensive team getting a good angle to shoot the ball and score a goal.


How Can Soccer (Football) Players Get Better at Tackling?

The best way to get better at tackling is with soccer drills simulating tackle opportunities in a game. Your soccer coach should set up a few different simulations with a defender working on each type of tackle. The goal is to feel comfortable pushing the ball away from an offensive player without creating a penalty. In practice, perfecting these soccer skills can prepare you for an actual match later.


Conclusion: What is a Soccer Tackle

In summary, a soccer tackle is a defensive tactic that defenders use to disrupt the offense. The goal of a tackle is to push the soccer ball away from an offensive player without creating a foul. A foul can occur for numerous reasons, but the most evident penalty is when a player slides into another player without making contact with the ball. Every legal tackle needs the defender to make contact with the ball while on defense, and any other contact can run the risk of a penalty card.


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