Tapping target creature

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Another noob question for you pro's.  If I have a creature that has the ability to tap a target creature, do I have to tap said creature before my opponent attacks with him, in order to have it not attack.  Or, can I wait for him to attack me and then choose to tap one of the ones he attacked me with?  I am thinking once he attacks with his creature it is too late for me to tap it to prevent it from attacking but I could wrong.

On the flip side, if I was attacking him and he chose to block one of my creature, I am assuming I can use my ability to tap a blocking creature so it does not block.

Thanks in advance.
If I have a creature that has the ability to tap a target creature, do I have to tap said creature before my opponent attacks with him, in order to have it not attack.  Or, can I wait for him to attack me and then choose to tap one of the ones he attacked me with?

You have to tap it before it is declared as an attacker. Your last chance to do so is in the Beginning of Combat step.
On the flip side, if I was attacking him and he chose to block one of my creature, I am assuming I can use my ability to tap a blocking creature so it does not block.

You have to tap it before it is declared as a blocker. Your last chance to do so is in the Declare Attackers step. 
Sweet, that clarifies a lot.  Thanks.
Or, can I wait for him to attack me and then choose to tap one of the ones he attacked me with? 

sometimes you can do this

Magic is not a game of reflexes and communication plays an important part

if your opponent, says "Combat, I'm attacking with A, B and C." without giving you a chance to tap his creature(s), you are allowed to say "hold up, let's back it up and I'm going to tap down A & B"

However, if he said "Combat?" followed by a pause to give you the opportunity to do something and you don't take the opportunity, then you can't back him up. 

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Oh yeah, for sure goth, that is like a common courtesy issue.