Tackling drills teach kids effective ways to take down ball carriers, often in open-field, one-on-one situations. If you’re coaching new players, have them literally walk through the drills before they start moving at faster speeds, so they learn to tackle with good form. Tackling correctly can also help prevent head injuries as kids learn to avoid using the tops of their helmets to make tackles.
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Tackle the Big Dummy
To do a simple form tackling drill, hold a tackle dummy upright and have a player take a defensive stance one stride in front of the dummy. On your signal, have the player surge forward and tackle the dummy. Let go of the dummy as the player makes contact. The player must wrap his arms around the dummy, hitting it with his chest and shoulders -- not the helmet -- and drive it forward.
Three-Step Tackling Drill
When your kids are ready to tackle other players, do a three-step progression drill that teaches tackling fundamentals. Have defenders take stances with their knees and hips bent and torsos leaning forward. Place a ball carrier a few yards in front of each defender. On the initial signal, the defenders jog to the ball carriers but stop short of making contact. They should be in good tackling positions when they stop, with their knees bent, arms back, heads up and one shoulder positioned to drive into the ball carrier. On the second command, the tacklers wrap their arms around the ball carriers’ waists. On the final command the tacklers drive their legs to push the ball carriers back.
Hug It Out
Failing to wrap the arms around a ball carrier is a common tackling mistake you’ll see at all levels of football. A hug-and-hold drill can help kids grasp a ball carrier with both arms whenever possible. Have a ball carrier take a step toward a tackler and then jump. The tackler grabs the offensive player in the air and tries to hold him up off the ground. The tackler is forced to use both arms prevent the ball carrier from falling to the field.
Take the Right Angle
Many tackling drills involve players facing each other. In an actual game, of course, kids may have to approach ball carriers from a variety of angles. To practice angle tackling, position a ball carrier on one of the field’s lines. Put the defender in front and to one side of the ball carrier so they’re not face to face. Have the ball carrier move forward, straight down the line, forcing the defender to tackle him from the side.