Authored by Rodney Southern in American Football
Published on 11-28-2009
When young boys begin to play the sport of football, the vast majority of them are afraid of getting hit. In some kids, the fear extends to them hitting someone else as well. Coaching kids on how to tackle is no simple task. With some persistence, the right drills and a good bit of support your kids can learn to tackle safely and powerfully.
Helping your kids get over the fear of being hit is the first step in teaching them how to tackle. As long as they are afraid of contact, all the drills in the world will not help them. It takes a little bit of time for the kids to realize that their equipment will protect them. Have them suit up in their gear, and do some hitting to get them used to the contact. One of the best ways to do this is to let them line up in two lines, and have one runner and one tackler. Do not try to coach them at this point. Simply let them hit for awhile. Sooner rather than later, their natural instincts will kick in.
Once you have overcome the hurdle of fear, then you are ready to start coaching them on the proper technique. Young football players are usually going to want to emulate the professional football players they see on television. They are going to want to go for the “big hit” every time. Good runners and football players will leave them grabbing for air. Teach them the basics of a great tackle.
The basics of a great tackle begins with balance. Explain that they need to keep their feet about shoulder width apart and break down when faced with a runner they have to tackle. This stance should leave them squared up to the runner, and completely balanced. From this position, they can choose to attack the runner or wait for them to come depending on the situation.
The next step to a great tackle is to focus in on the runner’s torso. We were taught to aim at their belt buckle. The key here is that they do not focus on the head or legs. Great runners can juke them out of their shoes if they do. Focus on the numbers of the jersey or their belt buckle. No matter what fakes are thrown, their torso will stay in one place. Aim for the torso and do not leave your feet for the tackle.
Next, you want to hit them in your aiming point, wrap them up, and drive through them. This process takes time to perfect, but practice makes perfect. Hit, wrap and drive – the perfect tackle. Practice this combination in slow motion for a bit. It does help the tackler to visualize.
Once your players have the basics down, then you should run tackle drills over and over. There is no replacement for tackle drills. Line them up and have them make open field tackles over and over. They will become better and better at it over time.