Atletico Madrid sliding tackle drill

by Pablo M11th Oct 2021

Drill created with Tactics Manager

Sliding tackles are legal but risky. Therefore, players must know how to perform them safely and when to use them. This post describes a sliding tackle drill used by Atletico Madrid.


This drill is designed for 4 players, making it suitable to use with a couple of friends or when you have a low turnout to training. You don’t need an actual football pitch for this drill, but you need enough space for the players and goals.  If the number of attendees is higher than 4, split the players into groups of 4. If you have odd numbers, the players that arrived later to the practice will be out or helping to pick up balls or taking the place of the mannequin in the diagram.

In addition to enough space to practice, you will need a minimum of 3 balls per group, 2 small goals, a mannequin and enough cones to mark the stations as in the picture above. If you can’t get hold of small goals, use cones. If you don’t have mannequins, as mentioned above, the players that arrived late can take their place.


The objective is for the players to keep a clean sheet when it is their turn to defend the goals. You can practice this drill as a competitive game between the players. The instructions are as follow.

  • 4 players: 1 defending player and a player ready with a ball in each station (1, 2 and 3).
  • The drill starts in station 1. The player in the station throws the ball over the dummy for the defender to execute a header.
  • When the defending player heads the ball, it must direct it back and over the dummy. Failing to do so adds a point to the defending player telly.
  • The drill continues in station 2. After the defending player heads the ball, they must rush to protect the small goal in station 2.
  • The player in station 2 attempts to score in the small goal as soon as one of the feet of the defending player passes the red cone. If they shoot earlier than that, the player gets a point added to their telly.
  • The drill continues in station 3. After the defending player defends station 2, they must rush to protect the small goal in station 3.
  • The same instructions used in station 2 apply in station 3.
  • After the defending player completes all 3 stations, rotate players. The defending player moves to station 2, the player in station 2 moves to station 1, and the player in station 1 moves to station 3.
  • After all the players had a turn defending the goals, the player with the lowest telly against is the winner.

Be creative and add your own rules. But, make sure to maintain the spirit of the drill. The drill emphasises speed and reaction, so make sure of pointing out any bad habits or incorrect techniques when sliding or heading.

Have a look at the first part of the video below for more clarity.


The main objective of this drill is to defend the goals.  Regularly practising this drill will minimise timing mistakes when executing a sliding tackle. In addition, this sliding tackle drill will improve other aspects of your players’ game:

  • Timing and reaction. The defending player must time sliding tackles and also headers. But also kicking players must time their shoot as they can’t shoot too early, and shooting too late will make it easier to defend.
  • Sliding tackles. To reach the goals in time, players must slide with the correct technique to intercept the ball.
  • Defending headers. Defending players must head the ball at the right time with good technique to send the ball away and over the mannequin.
  • Shooting accuracy. Although improving your offensive players finishing is not the primary objective, shooting players must have pinpoint accuracy.

I hope you find this drill helpful. If you like this post, please share it with your friends. If you know other exercises or have any questions, leave a comment below.

Atletico Madrid shop