Soccer tackling: Attributes of a good tackler

An excellent sliding tackle in the middle of the park.
An excellent sliding tackle in the middle of the park.

Soccer tackling is not just about techniques, but is a combination of ways of tackling, strategies for it and necessary attributes. The three main ways of tackling are the slide tackle, poke tackle and block tackle. However, before unloading these on your opponent, the basics must be mastered.

Positioning and awareness

These attributes are not just for goalkeepers, but for any position on the field of play. When it comes to defence, this helps to reduce the opponent’s attacking options, whether for a pass, cross or a shot at goal. An opponent who has few options would likely telepath his move or can be forced into a move. The success of a tackle improves in such situations.

Precision and timing

Good timing is the difference between a great tackle and an early shower. With the poke and block tackles, timing affects their success. However, players have to be especially careful with the sliding tackles. These tackles are quite spectacular, but must be timed to precision. That’s because going to ground can leave you eating grass, out of position or going into the ref’s book. Good timing is the direct result of patience and anticipation.

Posture and Balance

With “standing tackles” these attributes are most significant. A lower centre of gravity makes it easier to turn and avoid falling over and getting beaten. Bent knees and staying on the toes are the best option when facing an opponent. Even if you time the tackle badly, proper posture and balance facilitates better recovery.

Strength and flexibility

Despite the best efforts of the world’s best divers, association football is still a contact sport. Defenders are not the only ones who tackle, even strikers need to regain possession or fight for possession against typically strong defenders. No player should be able to legally shoulder you off the ball. Strength helps you to guard your space and jostle for positions while flexibility allows a better range of motion for tackling techniques.

Depending on a player’s position on the field, other attributes are necessary, but all players should possess these – not only for purposes of tackling, but to be a better all-round player.

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