Can You Slide Tackle in Soccer?

Can You Slide Tackle in Soccer?

A slide tackle in soccer is legal if it is not considered a dangerous play. For example, a foul will be called if a defender slide tackles with their cleats up. This is a BIG no-no.

In many youth soccer games, you can hear the screams when a slide tackle is performed. Most parents think the act of slide tackling in soccer is illegal. But, unless it’s considered careless, reckless or using excessive force, the play should go on.

Side note: In some youth and high school soccer leagues, slide tackling is banned to protect young players from getting injured. 

In this article, we’ll address the gray area many players, coaches and parents have about slide tackling in soccer games.

What is a Slide Tackle in Soccer?


A slide tackle is a defensive move in which a soccer player slides feet-first on the ground to steal the ball from an opponent or to block their shot.

The purpose of a proper slide tackle is to disrupt the opponent’s attack and gain control of the ball.

It’s very important to note that slide tackles can be risky and potentially dangerous, both for the player making the tackle and the opponent they’re trying to tackle.

If a defender doesn’t know how to slide tackle properly, they could end up digging their foot into the ground causing a foot, ankle or knee injury.

Also, if not executed properly, a slide tackle can result in a foul, a yellow or red card, or even an injury to the opponent. Therefore, it’s important for players to use caution when attempting a slide tackle and to follow the rules and regulations of the game.

When is a Slide Tackle Legal and Illegal?

When it comes to slide tackling in soccer, the important thing is to remember is how the slide tackle is performed that deems it legal or not.

According to the IFAB Laws of the Game (Law 12 – Misconduct and Foul Play), a manner considered by the referee to be careless, reckless or using excessive force will be called a foul. A free kick is subsequently awarded to the opposing team.

Ultimately, it is the discretion of the head referee to determine whether the slide tackle is legal or not.

Examples of Illegal Slide Tackles

What counts as an illegal slide tackle or one that is careless, reckless or using excessive force? Players who put their opponents in a position to get injured will often get a penalty called on them (i.e. – it is an illegal slide tackle).

Here are some situations where a foul will be called for slide tackling:

  • Going in with studs up
  • Making contact with the opponent before making contact with the ball
  • Diving into an opponent with excessive force and speed

Remember that slide tackling is still legal. It becomes illegal when a defender puts the opposing player in a dangerous situation. 

Tips for Slide Tackling in Soccer

There is certainly a time and place for slide tackling in soccer.

First, if you slide tackle too early, your opponent will go right by you and it could lead to an easy goal. A better option in this case is to slow down your opponent by leaning into them. Subsequently, find a way to poke the ball or keep the player in front of you. Make the offensive player make the mistake.

Second, a slide tackle should honestly be a last ditch effort to retrieve the ball. It takes multiple seconds to get up from a slide tackle. Additionally, you may be putting you and your opponent’s body in harm’s way.

Here are some other tips to keep in mind when slide tackling:

  • Never slide tackle in the penalty area unless you know that you’ll get the ball cleanly.
  • Avoid slide tackling from behind. Unless you are looking for a red card 😉
  • Slide into the tackle but don’t jump into it.
  • Time the slide tackle so you make contact with the ball as it is dribbled or shot.
  • Hook the ball instead of kicking it. This allows you to keep possession.


I hope this article was able to shed some light on slide tackling in soccer. The important thing to remember is that slide tackling is legal unless it is considered careless, reckless or using excessive force.

If you want to understand the rules of soccer, check out the article ‘Soccer Rules & Regulations: The 17 Laws of the Game’.

Beau Bridges - Soccer Novo Hey 👋 I’m Beau. A proud Dad, former coach and soccer enthusiast. I continue to love the game of soccer today the same way I did when I was 7. I created to share what I know about the game as well as provide a platform so other parents can learn more about youth soccer in the U.S.

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