Winning Youth Football

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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Football Tackling Tips: Head Position

As a youth football coach it's very important that when we are teaching tackling that we make sure that we emphasize that the players never use their head to butt, ram, spear, or make contact with an opponent. In drills covering tackling, all football coaches need to make this a priority.

I read an interesting article the other day whereby a neuro-surgeon with a football back round stated that the best way to teach our youth football players to tackle would be with out helmets. That way they would develop a good tackling technique that would protect and not involve the head.

Now I wouldn't recommend this but I do certainly understand his point.

With the pencil necks that we coach at the youth level the head never should be part of the equation. The point of contact when making a tackle should be the chest with the head back. If you examine any youth shoulder pad the breast plate is well protected and designed to sustain contact. Once contact is made the player should be taught to drive up and through his opponent with his arms, latch, keep his feet moving, and take his opponent to the ground.

Tackling drills should cover straight on tackling and angle tackling with the coach emphasizing point of contact and proper head position. Players should be taught to never, ever drop their heads, and with their head back at all times, watch and follow the hit in all the way. One of the things I have incorporated in tackling drills is that in the early sessions of teaching tackling is to tackle with "thud" contact, head back, wrap up, and do not leave your feet. Now "thud" contact is controlled half speed contact whereby we want the contact to be initiated but, the emphasis is on good tackling technique with head back, and proper form and technique. We stick with controlled "thud" contact until we are comfortable that all players have good tackling fundamentals and then we will pick up the speed a little more in the contact drills.

And you know what happens?

Once the speed is picked up a little, a lot of young tacklers will drop their heads on contact. At this point as a coach you have to step in, review technique once again, and send them back to "thud" school for more training. A couple of trips through "thud school" will get them thinking. What's most important is that they never tackle at a faster speed until they pass "thud school". Then it's controlled progression in all tackling drills until they have it right.