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First year of tackle football – The essential guide

First year of tackle football – The essential guide

The first year of tackle football can be daunting. Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be that way. This guide will step you through everything that you – and your child – need to know to make that first year of tackle football fun, easy, and painless. Whether they are stepping up from flag football (recommended) or coming into football for the first time, the right blend of football coaching, prepared parenting, and desire to play the game will have your kid dominating on the football field in no time.


We have already created a step-by-step guide on the essentials of football equipment. Read that article for a thorough breakdown, but here are the highlights for those that like to skim their information.

  • Helmet & Shoulder Pads – Find out if these are provided or if you need to supply your own. The key here is sizing. A helmet or pads are worthless as protection if they are too big. Make sure to spend some time finding the right size equipment to keep your kid safe.
  • Cleats – Cleats come in three different cuts, so be sure to buy the right cut for the position your kid will be playing. Also, know the type of surface (grass or turf) they are going to be playing on, as that will influence what type of stud pattern is best for the job.
  • Mouthguard – A vital piece of equipment. A mouthguard stops shockwaves from a hit that can cause brain injury issues. Make sure it is correctly molded to your kid’s mouth for maxim protection,
  • Extras – Think of items like a protective cup (safety), a water bottle (hydration), and gloves (increased grip on the ball). These items aren’t necessarily essential, but they will make your kid more comfortable and increase their ability to perform.


Finding the right football coaching is vital for your kid as they begin their football journey. While in many cases, that coach is a relative or family friend, that is usually not the best option. Here at Tackle Smart, we offer a range of programs to help coaches upskill when it comes to tackling and tackling technique, and we suggest finding a coach that has already been through our program (or something similar) as they will have your kid’s safety at the forefront of their mind.

You need to not only find a coach that is qualified, but you also need to find a coach that is willing to put in the work. Nothing is worse than a coach who is late, unprepared, and generally not giving the effort you are your kid are looking for. Do your diligence before putting your kid’s football future in the hands of someone that might not be up for the job.

League Selection

A good search for track football leagues near me will likely give you several different options in your area. Your next step is to then take that information and put in the required research to put your kid in a position to succeed. Remember, this is their first year of tackle football. This will be overwhelming, so finding a league at the right skill level is vital.

This is where objectivity as a parent is important. You will be your kid’s biggest fan, but thinking too highly of their athletic ability will only make for a disappointing first year. Don’t throw your kid in with players that have been playing tackle football for years already unless you are supremely confident that they can handle the speed, skill, and physicality that other kids will have developed already.

Conditioning & Preparation

This is where previous football coaching and flag football comes into play. Get your kid a leg up by using some of our training methods – perhaps enrolling your kid in a camp or clinic – and they will head to their first day of tackle football practice full of confidence. Flag football also works in this way, with your kid learning the basics of catching, running, and spatial awareness on a football field without worrying about behind hit and tackled as they learn the game. 

We highly recommend using both these methods before putting your kid in a tackle football league. We also recommend making sure their nutrition and hydration are right, that they are getting enough sleep, and that they are preparing their body with some cardio/weight work. None of this has to be extreme, but a kid in good mental and physical health will perform much better than a kid that is overtired and hasn’t been running before showing up to the first practice.

These are all basic ways of preparing for a first tackle football season, but they are all effective. If you follow these steps, you and your kid will have a successful first year and many successful years to follow.

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