Win every 50-50 ball with this move
| 1 min watch
Life’s all about give and take, but for now, let’s focus on the take.
Tackling in soccer is a way for a defender to try to take possession of the ball away from an opponent. While a poke tackle or slide tackle can help you steal the soccer ball from an opponent who is dribbling, when it comes to a loose ball, the block tackle is the way to go.
When there is a loose ball – or what’s called a “50-50 ball” – players have an equal chance of winning the ball. anThe secret to making it yours? The block tackle, and it’s so named because a player uses their foot and body to block the opponent from accessing the ball.
It can be daunting when two players approach a loose ball at the same time. But 50-50 balls in soccer happen frequently, so helping players get comfortable with block tackling technique is key.
Here’s how it’s done:
The first step is for the player to approach a loose ball with a strong base, with a low center of gravity.
From this ready position, a player plants their front foot to the side of the ball.
As their opponent moves to make contact with the ball, the tackling player uses their other foot—or tackling foot—to knock the ball away first, making contact with the center of the ball, with their ankle locked.
The player then follows through with some oomph, and makes off with their prize.
Coaches can help players recognize the timing of a block tackle by practicing small touches vs. big touches. This activity is a dribbling exercise, but it also shows players the difference between a ball that is in an opponent’s possession (close to their body) versus a ball that is open for a challenge (not close to their body).
Players can practice the techniques of a block tackle in activities like Flying Numbers and Shrinking Field. A coach should highlight moments of 50-50 balls, when two players are going for a loose ball at the same time. Coaches can even stop play to slow the moment down, so players can practice getting low, locking their ankle and following through. Safely!
And in a scrimmage players will get opportunities to practice block tackling in situations closer to the actual game.
It’s easy to forget that the rules of soccer are also important to practice — at practice!
If a player mis-times their approach to the ball and kicks the opponent, instead of the ball, this leads to free kicks (which is a give, not a take). If an older player persistently mis-times their tackle during a game, a referee may hand out a dreaded red card (which means a player must leave the field for the rest of the game).
As with all soccer skills, coaches should help players learn to control their body while also being assertive – and with block tackles, this is especially true.