The great slide tackle is one of the best-looking and feeling defensive plays in the game of soccer. There aren’t many players who can consistently pull it off, but those that can have a weapon in their arsenal that can change games in their team’s favor. Most of the best defenders in the world have at least made a handful of game-saving tackles in their careers, so it’s a soccer move that’s worth knowing about.
If you want to become a great central defender (or any other type of defender), you should know when and when not to attempt a slide tackle. Use the tips below to take your slide tackles to the next level!
Know the Risks
While slide tackles have always been a part of the game of soccer, that doesn’t mean that they are safe. In fact, you will see that the majority of contact injuries happen as a result of slide tackles. Not only can you hurt the opponent with a mistimed slide tackle, you can also badly hurt your own legs if you don’t use proper form.
The main reason why you should always keep the risks in mind is because you will only use the slide tackle when it is the best choice. More often than not, you will find that a standing tackle is both the safer and better option.
Every level of soccer has outlawed the slide tackle from behind, so you should always remember to be on the side, at an angle, or right in front of the ball when you attempt your tackles. No matter how desperate you are, you should absolutely never attempt a slide tackle from behind your opponent.
Keep Your Eye on the Ball
From youth levels all the way up to the pros, so many players make the mistake of watching their opponents rather than focusing on the ball. If you watch your opponent – who, remember, is trying to fake you out – you can easily mistime your slide tackle and get beaten.
Obviously you also need to judge the speed of the opponent, too, but watching the ball will give you a much higher chance of both timing your tackle (more on that below) and controlling where the ball goes as you make the tackle. If you focus on the ball, all of the tricky moves in the world won’t faze you before you attempt your tackles.
Timing Your Slide Tackle
If you are too late or too early when attempting a slide tackle, the odds of the opposing team scoring go skyrocketing. That’s actually why you shouldn’t attempt a slide tackle the majority of the time. However, if the situation calls for it, you want to make sure that your foot arrives at the right time.
In most cases, the best time to make your tackle attempt is when the opponent pushes the ball forward. This separation of the ball from the opponent will give you the best chance of successfully redirecting the ball and avoiding nasty fouls.
You also want to make sure that you are using the leg furthest away from the opponent to go for the ball. It’s true that some pros will use the closer leg, but it’s a much riskier way of tackling and will often lead to a failed attempt.
Just like every other part of soccer, you will always have a better chance of making successful slide tackles if you are composed. When players get desperate in their tackles, they will often forget to use proper form and will either miss or foul their opponents.
Everyone’s brains are running a mile a minute when they are on the soccer field, but the composed players are the ones who slow the game down when they need to slow they can make the best plays possible. These are the players who will make great slide tackles, so this is the type of player who you should aspire to be.