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There is a time for everything.  In the same frame of mind, timing is everything.

The slide tackle is one of those elements of the game that has to be used to perfection.  The success of a slide tackle is based on three factors:

  1. Technique
  2. Timing
  3. Implementation

Before we can get into using the slide tackle, it is very important that a proper slide tackle technique be taught.  It is a given that many players underestimate the effectiveness of a slide tackle, but what many people seem to over look is that it is very easy to injure others and yourself  if the slide tackle is not done with proper technique.

The proper technique for a slide tackle is broken down this way:

  • Begin running with decent pace
  • If you are right footed, lunge forward off your left foot, extending your right foot onward and gradually falling on the area below your left hip.
  • Use you arms for balance and protection.

There is also the outside of the foot slide tackle that can be used:

In executing these steps, you must not slow down prior to entering the slide tackle or else you will come to a halting stop as if you are sliding in sand.  Also, do not jump up and land down on your hip and leg, this is almost guaranteed to cause an injury.  Make sure you enter the slide tackle with good speed and conviction.  Gradually fall and create a sliding motion, rather than a lunging/jumping motion.  With your leading foot, reach for the ball and try to keep your body away from the opponent.  This way you will avoid a foul and getting hurt.

If you hit the ball first and, as a result of momentum, follow through and hit the player, it will not necessarily be called a foul as long as you don’t show intent to injure.  Whether coming from the side or front, use the same technique.  Never ever slide tackle someone from the back.  This will not only result in a red card for you, but a serious injury at stake for the opponent who is not expecting you.

The biggest no-no of all, do not lead with your cleats.  Leading with your cleats is guaranteed to cause an injury.  Play the game respectfully; do not go to injure players for nothing.

Now that we have discussed the technique, let’s consider timing.  What do I mean when I say timing?  I mean two things:

  • How do you know when to slide tackle someone?
  • Where on the field, and under what circumstances, should you slide?

Going in for a slide tackle is a gamble.  Because it takes quite a long time to line up a slide tackle and execute it, the player with the ball usually has enough time to avoid it.  If timed correctly, it can be carried out successfully.

When a player is dribbling the ball and you are running side to side with him slowly losing ground, and you notice the ball slightly get away from him, it is a good time to slide and hit the ball out or away before he gets away from you. This is most true for defenders and sometimes midfielders.  Slide tackles should only be used as a last resort or when the ball is away from the players feet just far enough for you to poke it away with a slide tackle.

Now, where on the field, and under what circumstances, should you slide?  Well, like I mentioned, it should only be a last resort.  If you slide but miss the player and the ball, you are useless now.  You are on the ground and completely out of the play.  The number one thing in soccer is to always stay on your feet.  Even if you are beat or cannot catch a player, try make-up ground and run to an area where you can help out.

If you are going to slide tackle, the best time is if the ball is coming down the wing.  Stopping a player here is the best and most effective.  If you are to cause a foul, it will be a free kick, but from far out.  Forwards and midfielders should have no real reason to slide tackle as they usually have support behind them.  In these instances, forwards and defenders should jockey.

Defenders however are forced to use it.  Make sure, though, that it is carried out.  If you miss the ball, the player has open land.  Plan effectively.

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