Tackling an opponent is an important component of a footballer’s make-up. It can often mean the difference between a goal and a kick that travels off-line.

A player may be fairly met or checked by an opponent by the use of the hip, shoulder, chest, arms or open hand, provided the ball is not more than five metres away. The tackle may be from the front, side or behind, provided it does not thrust forward the player with the ball.

Only a player with the ball can be held and then only below the shoulder and above the knee. Once a player has possession of the ball and is legally held he shall be given a reasonable time to kick or handball the ball, otherwise he is deemed to be “holding the ball” and a free kick is awarded to his tackler.

If the umpire believes that the player in possession of the ball has the ball pinned to his body and he has not had a reasonable time to dispose of the ball, the ball will be bounced. In other words, play will come to a momentary halt and each team will have an equal chance of getting the ball.

The correct technique is important, otherwise you will give away a free kick.

Tackling From Behind
Approach the player who has the ball, from one side, so he is not pushed in the back. The head should be placed on one side. The player is grabbed on the arms just above the elbows and then swung or spun off balance.

Tackling From the Front
The tackler approaches the player with his arms at waist level. The tackler places his head to one side of the player, with his chin tucked into his chest. He then pins the arms of the other player and spins or turns him off balance. Your shoulder and arm make first contact to an opponent’s chest. Ensure your head is behind the opponent’s back and out of any danger. Use your body weight to slow down your opponent.

General Coaching Hints
Begin with:

  • The opponent stationary and the tackler walking in.
  • Extend to the tackler jogging in.
  • Tackling can take place below the shoulders and above the knees.

Tip: When playing or training, always aim for your opponent’s hips when tackling – make the hips your sole focus.