How to coach the poke tackle

When defenders have players running at them in 1v1s, they often just need to touch the ball out from their opponent’s feet to gain control for themselves. This is a much simpler tackle to the slide or block tackle. Use the following coaching tips and soccer drill to get players working on a poke tackle.

The poke tackle gets players to knock the ball away from the attacker so it either goes out of play or they win it for their team. It concentrates on 1v1 defending and getting the ball off an opponent who is shielding it.

Players in this soccer drill need to:

  • Approach attacker from the side or behind.
  • Get close to the attacker.
  • Use the foot nearest to ball.
  • Focus on the ball.
  • Extend foot from side or through opponent’s legs.
  • Stab ball away using toes to kick near its centre.
  • Do not make contact with opponent.
  • Keep their body balanced to make the tackle.
  • Try and make the tackle with good timing or they will give away a foul.
  • If the ball is in play, can the defender win possession by putting their body between it and attacker?

Soccer drill session to get players working on poke tackle

Soccer drill set up

  • In this drill both players start at one end, with the attacker close to the touchline. At half pace to begin with, the attacker dribbles the ball towards the opposite end, allowing the defender to practise executing the poke tackle.
  • After several attempts, the players switch roles.
  • Make sure players practise using first their right foot, then their left foot.

Develop the soccer drill

To progress the drill, the attacker must attempt to dribble at full speed to the end line, so that the defender can practise the skill of the poke tackle at match pace

Play a small-sided game

Mark a grid of approx 25 x 25 metres and split players into two teams. Each member of the attacking team has a ball inside the grid, while the defending team remains outside. On your signal, the defending team enters the grid and tries to knock as many balls out of the playing area as possible.

An attacker who loses their ball must retrieve it and re-enter the grid. The defending team gets a point for every ball kicked out of play. After a set period, the teams switch roles.

Click here for a soccer drill to coach the slide tackle.

Click here for a soccer drill to coach the block tackle.


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