Hard-nosed defense and aggressive tackling are key fundamentals for football and futbol. "Knowing the right situation to use a tackle is the most important element for success," says U. of Portland assistant soccer coach Lauren Hanson. On their path to an Elite Eight berth last season, the Pilots defense picked the right times to tackle, amassing 14 stifling shutouts among their 18 wins.
Below, Hanson, a former standout defender for Portlands 2002 NCAA Championship squad, dishes advice to bolster your D.
5 Tackling Tips
1. Be patient. When defending a 1 v 1 scenario, be patient. Don’t tackle when your opponent has clear possession of the ball. Wait until a bad touch is made or if she makes a move to accelerate by you.
2. If your opponent is going to your right, tackle with right foot. Never use your opposite foot. Avoid reaching across to tackle the opponent with your opposite foot, because you won’t generate any power. You’ll lose forward momentum and cross your legs, which means you’ll either be on the ground or out of position to accelerate and catch up to your opponent.
3. Move forward when attempting a tackle. Forward momentum puts you in good position to pass the ball off or clear it once you win the tackle.
4. Go all or nothing. Commit to the tackle by going in at 100 percent. Lock your knee and ankle for strength and power so everything is solid coming through the ball. Mistakes and injuries occur when a player decides to pull out from tackling last minute. You’ll lose the ball, or it won’t go where you want.
5. Hanson’s recommended tackling situations: When you’re in a 1 v 1 situation in or around the 18-yard box // When your opponent takes a touch too long, too big or too wide // When your opponent bobbles the ball // When the ball bounces in the air // When two players go for the same open ball.