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Friday, April 1, 2011

Football Tackling Mechanics

Tackling in youth football is one of the key fundamentals that must be practiced and mastered by youth football players in order for them to safely play with confidence, avoid injury, and be effective football players. Teaching tackling mechanics in practice is a key component towards developing football tackling skills. Probably, the biggest key to tackling is teaching proper body position or body mechanics to the youth football player prior to any contact. It's extremely important that the player know and practice these body mechanics at the youth football age level so as to develop solid tackling fundamentals as their bodies grow and they progress to each football level.

1. Stance: prior to contact, the feet should be about shoulder width apart and slightly staggered with one foot slightly ahead of the other. For reference purposes, the toe of the trailing foot should line up with the front arch of the leading foot. Again, feet are shoulder width apart.
2. Knees and Butt: prior to contact the knees should be slightly bent and the butt down. This sets up the body in a coiled fashion ready to explode up and through the ball carrier on impact
3. Back: should be vertical with a slight lean forward with chest out. Again, this puts the body in a position to explode up and through the ball carrier on impact.
4. Neck and Head: should be cocked back with the neck bulled ready for contact. In fact, the most important element of tackling to avoid injury is making sure the players head and neck are always back. Do not let a player have full speed contact if they drop their heads on contact! Practice this element of football tackling until head position is in the right place. The head is never a factor in tackling!
5. Arms; the arms should be cocked back and bent slightly forward at the elbows with hands out and ready to grab the cloth of the ball carrier on impact.

The body now is set into what is referred to as the "breakdown position". The tackler is taught to set up his body into the breakdown position just prior to contact. This puts the body in the right position to safely and effectively tackle. With this in mind it's time to teach the tackler the mechanics of tackling. The tackler is now taught that as he pursues to the ball carrier, that just before impact he is to set in the breakdown position and explode up and through the ball carrier by extending his knees and rotating his hips forward with the point of contact being the chest plate of his shoulder pads just under and up though the chest plate of the ball carrier while the arms explode up and around the torso of the ball carrier and grabbing the jersey. The tackler is taught to keep his feet moving on impact with the head back and the neck bulled until the ball carrier is taken to the ground. Again, the head is never part of the equation when it comes to tackling.

These elements of tackling must be practiced each week and are one of the key fundamentals of playing football. Good tackling fundamentals will give your player confidence and will enhance other areas as well of your football team.