How to Do a Poke Tackle

Quickly stop the attack with this soccer tackling essential


| 1 min watch

Irritating for an attacker? Yes. Invaluable for you? You bet. Let us introduce: the poke tackle.

In soccer, the aim of a defender is to stop the opponent from attacking their goal, and the poke tackle is one way to do it. Players can use a poke tackle to slow down the attacker, force a mistake or win possession altogether. If an attacker is shielding the ball, a stealthy poke from the side or behind is very handy – er, footy?

What is a poke tackle?

A poke tackle is used by a defender when an opponent has possession of the ball. A defender uses their foot to “poke” the ball away from an attacker dribbling the ball.

The poke tackle is different from a block tackle in that it is used when the other team has possession of the ball. (A block tackle, by contrast, is used to challenge a 50-50 ball, a loose ball where two opposing players arrive at the same time.)

A poke tackle is often more effective (and safe) than a slide tackle, because the defender stays on her feet and is able to quickly escape with the ball.

How to do a poke tackle

Poke Tackle step 1As an attacker dribbles the ball, a defender starts applying pressure, or closing in on the attacker.
Poke Tackle step 2The key is for the defender to approach the attacker under control, getting low to apply pressure…
Poke Tackle step 3The defender then gets close enough to poke the ball away, while the attacker attempts to shield the ball.

Poke Tackle step 4Players can use the inside or outside of their foot to poke the ball away.

How to practice a poke tackle

Games like Team Shield Steal and Team Knockout provide numerous opportunities to apply the skill—with at least half of the players attempting to steal the ball at a given time. Activities like 1 vs. 1 to Endlines or 1 vs. 1 to Small Goals  also provide opportunities for players to practice the poke tackle as they try to win possession and score. In defending-focused small-sided games like Liverpool, a coach can encourage players to practice poke tackles by offering additional points for a well-executed one. During these activities, a coach should watch for poorly executed tackles. The easiest way to judge an illegal tackle is if the defender misses the ball and kicks the player instead. Ouch! In a game, an illegal tackle can result in a foul, and the opponent will be awarded a free kick

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