Improve Your Team's Tackling

Sound tackling is the cornerstone of a great defensive football team. Ideally, defenders should not tackle with the arms or hands first, rather with the shoulders and chest area.

After aggressive contact, the first tackler raps his arms around the ball carrier, lifting the player and driving the carrier backwards while pumping and driving the legs forcefully. The second man to the tackle "tackles the football" or otherwise attempts to strip the ball loose from the offensive player. Sound tackling techniques are to be demonstrated and practiced on a regular basis through tackling drills and scrimmages.

The best tacklers are "agile, mobile, and hostile" football players as observed by the great Hank Gathers.

Here are a few drills provided by the eteamz football community to improve tackling ability:


A lone defender squares off against a lone blocker.

Bags or cones can be set up on either side of the players, approximately five yards apart. This will limit the lateral distance that each player can move.

The coach standing behind the defender assigns the direction to the blocker telling him which way to take the defender. The defender needs to read the will of the blocker and fight through the pressure to the hole.

The object of the drill is as simple as the game of football itself: beat your man.

Horizontal Tackle

Position two players flat on their backs, putting them helmet to helmet but not touching (six inches apart). Designate one player as the ball carrier and the other the tackler. On the coach's whistle, the players rise and the ball carrier run a straight path at the defensive player.

Coaches should make sure that proper technique and form is used in this tackling drill. It is run until a significant numbers of reps have taken place. Cones are used in this drill and placed five yards apart as a boundary for drill participants. Coaches always check for safety before this drill is ran, such as chin straps, proper helmet and mouthpiece.

Angle Tackling

On command, tackler is in good football position, feet moving. On second command ball carrier takes two steps forward and breaks at a 45-degree angle. Tackler moves when ball carrier does and drives through outside number and gets his number across ball carrier's outside number. Tackler drives feet and ball carrier back two yards.

Make sure tackler closes distance while keeping on the ball carrier's inside half. Also stress that tacklers work from low plane to high plane, hitting on the rise.

Goal Line Tackle Drill

The coach aligns a ball carrier and a defensive player three yards apart, inside a square made from four cones. The drill consists of the defender standing on the goal line and attempting to keep the running back from scoring.

Make sure the tackler maintains a solid base and keeps his feet moving. He should meet the running back as deep as possible from the goal line, take the running back high and engage as much surface on him as possible while keeping his feet moving.

As with all drills in live tackling, the defender must always remember to keep his head up while making the tackle.

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