Winning Youth Football

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Monday, February 28, 2011

Key Mechanics of Tackling in Football

  Tackling in football is one of the main components of the game. Proper tackling or form tackling in youth football is a core fundamental that must be practiced each and every practice at the youth football level. A team with good football tackling fundamentals is a team with confidence!
As a youth football coach there is several key elements of form tackling that you must emphasize prior to contact drills. Body position is probably the most important element of tackling in youth football. They have to be taught how to set up their body in order to safely and effectively tackle with confidence. So let's begin.

First of all it's important that they have a good tackling stance. What I mean by tackling stance is that they have a good foot base with feet about shoulder width and slightly staggered. The knees are bent with the butt down with a straight back. The head is tilted back with the neck bulled and the arms cocked back and bent slightly at the elbows. Get them to set up their body position for tackling over and over again until they get it. Once they understand their football tackling body position, its important now that you explain to them the mechanics of tackling, that is, how their body moves and explodes on contact so that they are effective tacklers. Explain to them that with their bodies in tackling position that they are like a coiled spring and all of its energy ready to explode up and through the ball carrier.
At this point it's important as a youth football coach to explain to them their point of contact. That is, what part of their body will contact the ball carrier first when tackling. We teach them at the youth level to make contact with the chest plate of their shoulder pads with the head back and neck bulled. The head is never in the equation as far as contact is concerned and is always, always, tilted back! You cannot emphasize this enough! We also emphasize a "chest on chest" contact during football tackling, again, with the head back. We do not teach shoestring type tackling as we believe that it teaches the youth football player to drop his head and expose the football player to more chance of being concussed or neck injuries. We believe that with good form tackling practiced over the season that if they are fundamentally sound in the mechanics of form tackling that they will be effective tacklers regardless of size.

Now, with these elements in mind the mechanics of tackling would fall in this sequence:

Stance and body position followed by a simultaneous explosion of hip rotation and leg extension driving up and through as the chest makes contact with the chest of the ball carrier, the head is back, and neck is bulled. As contact with the chest plate is made, the arms drive up under the arm pits of the ball carrier, the tackler locks in maintains his base while chopping his feet, driving his legs, with the head back until the ball carrier is taken down.
Coaching in football requires that you communicate effectively with your players. It's important to take the time and explain each element of tackling and body position to your football players so that they understand why they are being instructed to do things a specific way. If they understand the reasons for it the probability of them doing it increases.