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

Poke Tackle step 4
Players 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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