4 Ways to Improve Your Sliding Tackles
A well-timed, clean, forceful sliding-tackle is an essential skill that all top competitive players have to learn, and if you want to be an enforcer that stamps your authority on a match, learning how to tackle is a big piece to ruling the roost.
There's more to it then just diving into a challenge with no class or technique, it's a lot more complicated then it might appear on first glance, so put the time in and start learning the ways of artful defending.
Here are 4 ways to improve your sliding-tackles and get you winning the ball like a boss.
1. Timing is Everything
Timing the tackle is everything, and you're not going to be able to successfully win the ball off opponents with misguided actions that can end up being detrimental to your team, so learn to read the game and time your tackles with calculated precision.
Look for key moments and tells, when the attacker your defending let's their touch get a little too loose, or when they fail to check their shoulder and survey how much time on the ball they actually have, identifying these key openings and moments for when you can nip in and win the ball with a sliding-tackle is one of the most important elements to being a good tackler.
2. Don't Show Your Studs
Far too many players get called for unnecessary fouls because they show the bottom of their cleats when they engage in a sliding-tackle, which is why it's absolutely critical that you keep your toe pointed down, and don't show your studs to show when you go in for a challenge.
Referees will call fouls when the studs are showing on a sliding-tackle even if you cleanly win the ball and make zero contact, and even worse, in some cases, if you show your studs on a sliding-tackle and scrape or catch the leg of your opponent it's common for the ref to issue a caution or, in many cases, walking orders for the player that went to ground.
3. When You Commit, Don't Hesitate
Once you've made the decision to go to ground and enter into a sliding-tackle, you can have no fear in your mind, and it's imperative that you win the ball or stop your defender from finding a way past you.
Sliding-tackles should be done with restraint, pose, and technique, and should only be used when absolutely necessary. However, once you make the decision to slide-tackle another player, you've got to complete your mission of stopping the ball from passing you.
Don't hesitate or hold-back once you go for an interception, be ruthless and unflinching in your tackle, look to win the ball, and if your tackle catches the other player, it's all par for the course of an intense contact sport.
4. Study the Art of Tackling
The best midfielders and defenders in the history of the game have made tackling an art, displaying a graceful, iron-fisted elegance and class as they use explosive, forceful, tackles to strip possession off their opponents.
Gaining proper game intelligence, and the ability to read and process at a high level, by comprehending the rhythms and tempos of your opponents is fundamental to becoming a good tackler, so start by becoming a student of the game.
Learn how attackers like to dribble, when to make your move based on those findings, when to be patient, and how to be tough as nails when you decide to come crunching into a tackle.
Here are two of the best defenders of their generation showing off the art of defending: