There are many ways to teach tackling. When I was in Pop Warner, they lined us up 10 yards apart and had us run into each other. We did bull in the ring, oklahomas, and hamburger drills. Had anyone known a damn thing about safety and coaching that’s not how we would’ve had our start.
Today we teach tackling in a much more controlled and effective manner, but I don’t want to blame a litigious society as much as applaud the advancements in professionalism of coaches. Much like Horace Mann improved teaching and August Vollmer pushed for professionalism in police work, the late 90’s and beyond have seen an improvement in coaching because of Frank Glazier and his clinics.
Being a small school with 25 or so players on the field limits what we can do. We don’t have a “JV” officially, but we have players we dub “JV” for drills like tackling and board drills in order to keep them safe, happy, and in the program. There’s nothing to prove or gain by pitting our 275lbs 3-technique against a 130lbs 8th grader.
Whether you have beginning, intermediate, or advanced tacklers everyone can use this tackling circuit to teach tackling, or to get bodies back in the routine of making tackles.
Step 1: form. Starting from our knees, we teach the tacklers how to throw their arms and hips while keeping their eyes to the sky. Both players are on their knees, which gives the tackler a chance to see where to put his arms and facemask.
Step 2: getting in position. I then have the tacklers 1-yard from each other, and get them to step into position to cut someone off, come to balance, and make a tackle.
- Start the ball carrier (BC) aligned to one side to work on cut off angles.
- Tackler starts in GHP
- Call out your steps “right, left, right, left”
- If your tackler is in a good position to make the play, call “shoot”
- Your tackler should shoot his hands, grab cloth, throw his hips, and toss the BC into the air
step 3: “one-motion.” After multiple reps from the knees and in a walk-thru, you can then start your players 1-yard off and let them go without steps. Here I call “ready” (GHP), “go” and the tackler will slowly (50%) take his 4-steps, shoot, and lift.
Step 4: Angle. We start the players 3 yards apart and walk through (50%) our steps to get in position, come to balance, get our head across and eyes to the sky, and drive our hips through the tackle. Once we’re in pads and acclimated we can go 75-100% through this drill. We usually avoid going to the ground on the finish to save our players from injuries.