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 or hits the other player without touching the ball. This is a BIG no-no.
Key Takeaways From This Article:
- As a player, you can slide tackle if you get the ball first.
- For rec players ages 8 and younger, slide tackling is not recommended and should not be promoted by coaches.
- Slide tackling your opponent is risky. You or your opponent could get seriously injured.
In many youth soccer games, you can hear the screams when a player slide tackles. 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 continue.
Side note: In some youth and high school soccer leagues, slide tackling is banned to protect young players from getting injured. Although I don’t necessarily agree with prohibiting it at the high school ages, I do understand the reason behind it.
For the last few games, my son has been dealing with turf burns to both of his upper legs. They are the result of slide tackling on turf. I tell him to not do it for a couple of games because it keeps opening up. He says he can’t help it!
In this article, we’ll address the gray area many players, coaches, and parents face 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. Even more common on turf fields, are kids getting annoying turf burns on the side of their legs.
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
Here are some extreme examples…
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. If the ref calls it a foul, it leads to a penalty kick.
- 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 but it’s difficult to do.
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’.