The purpose of this article is to encourage recreational youth soccer leagues to ban slide tackling. The reasons are that there is too great a chance a player will get seriously hurt, young referees don’t know how to correctly interpret the rules regarding slide tackling, and players aren’t taught how to properly slide tackle.
Here are 2 examples of how dangerous it can be:
1. Years ago when I coached U12 recreational soccer a player slid straight into my son who was dribbling, went through the ball (contacted it but went on through it) and with cleats up hit my son in the shin guards and flipped him forward. It bruised his leg even through the shin guards and he could have been seriously hurt. The young ref thought it was OK because the tackler contacted the ball first. However, the FIFA rules say careless, reckless or dangerous play is a foul and “excessive force” is a Red Card.
2. I was watching a semi-pro game about 15 years ago and a defender tried a slide tackle, the dribbler jumped into the air and came down on his leg and broke both bones. The game was delayed for 30 minutes while we watched the player in agony and listened to him moaning in pain. Can you imagine how traumatic that would be for kids to see? Fortunately, my son wasn’t with me.
Honestly, I would have real concerns about allowing my child to play in a recreational soccer league that allows it. I will bet you that the adult recreational soccer leagues around your area don’t allow it, for obvious reasons. If a youth soccer league allowed it, I would talk to the opposing coach and ask if he would agree to tell his players not to slide tackle. If he wouldn’t agree, then I would tell him that I will have to tell my players to be watching for it and to jump into the air and don’t worry about coming down on the sliding player – the point being that if his players get hurt it is their coaches fault, because I have asked him to not allow it. I would also tell him that if there are any dangerous slide tackles I will pull my team off the field. I would print the page from the FIFA rules about “careless, reckless and dangerous play” and show it to the Referee and discuss what the Ref’s interpretation of the rules is. Specifically, a tackle can be “careless, reckless and dangerous” even if the ball is contacted – if the tackle is dangerous it should be a foul or even a Red Card if there is “excessive force”.
If your league needs another reason to not allow it, here are two:
1. Kids aren’t learning to play soccer when they are on the ground.
2. Can you imagine what would happen if a kid was seriously injured in a situation where the league allowed it knowing it could be dangerous (which we all know it can be) and didn’t require players to be taught how to properly slide tackle and how to avoid being injured? The lawsuit would be huge.
As a parent I would not allow my child to play in a recreational league that allowed slide tackling. Anybody who thinks it is a good idea needs to go out and be slide tackled a few times (once would probably be enough). Slide tackling is OK for great athletes, select soccer teams and professional soccer players, but not for recreational soccer players.