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More Slide Tackling Tips

December 31, 2003 09:00 PM
Marcelo Balboa, a long-time veteran of the United States National Team currently with the Colorado Rapids of MLS, offers his advice on slide-tackling.
6. Protect Yourself
The first law of slide-tackling concerns safety, and it begins with shinguards. Full guards may not be as comfortable as smaller models, but defenders don't really have a choice.
Nor do they have a choice once the decision to tackle has been made. Don't take it easy! You must go all out.
"I've done that before," says Balboa. "I went into a tackle very easy and did my MCL, strained it."
Mechanics are important. Balboa recommends that tacklers keep their leg unlocked with a slight bend. Then when you get to the ball, extend your leg through it.
"Make sure you get the ball right on your shoelaces," he says. "And swing your leg through it."
7. Give 'Em The Hook
The proper slide should make baseball managers proud -- it's a hook, on your side, with the extension of your leg through the ball.
"It's like a baseball slide," says Balboa, who spent some time on the basepaths during his youth. "The only difference is you don't slide straight through. In soccer, you're running at an angle and sliding, hoping to land on your side. Then you try to swing your leg across and hook the ball."
It requires precision and resolution.
"Don't just put your foot out there, hoping the ball will hit you as your opponent trips over you," Balboa says. "Make sure you swing through it. Try to clear it, or try to kick it away from him."
8. Get The Ball
This is most important. If you don't get the ball, you're goalkeeper will likely be picking the ball out of the back of the net in a matter of moments.
"Make sure you get the ball," Balboa implores. "You can get the ball first and then go through the player."
Or don't. Tackling doesn't require a defender to strip the ball from his opponent. Sometimes just getting in the way is enough.
"If a guy is running down the wing, he's running full speed, and you know at that speed he can't cut it back. You know he is going to cross it," Balboa explains. "Sometimes if you stick out your leg, you're not going to block it. If you slide and lift your leg, you can block the pass."
9. Control Your Emotions
Professional fouls are part of the game, mere moves in a chess match. And although players can become frustrated and tempers can flare, one should never take it out on an opponent.
"It's important that you control your emotions," Balboa says. "Never go out to hurt somebody because you're looking to be thrown out of the game, and that's stupid. Make sure you keep your foot down when sliding -- you don't ever want to lift your foot. Tackling around the knee or tackling high... to me, that's just stupid. Soccer is a fun game. There's no need to get violent."



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