I ask coaches all the time, “How serious are you taking tackling?” A lot of the responses I get are not great… It’s vital that we practice tackling for several reasons, that we are going to get into in the post. A few of the big reasons though are so that we can be better tacklers, missing fewer tackles in play and more importantly, so we can be safer tacklers to reduce injuries. This results in more wins and fewer concussions!!
Medical experts are continually saying that improved tackling techniques are something that makes the game safer. It’s a common misconception that improved helmet technology will reduce concussions. However, this can actually have the opposite effect by making players more reckless in the game.
When coaching, your tackling technique should also focus on minimizing head contact. I call that, ‘Taking your head out of the tackle.’ This is because tackling is the #1 reason for concussions in football. Therefore, if we remove our heads from the tackle, we’ll be instantly lowering our risk of concussion during play.
There are so many issues with concussions (CTE) and the lawsuits that it has led to in the NFL. Now, who’s to say the same isn’t going to happen in college or high school? Especially high school aged kids and younger, whose brains are still developing… a lot of issues can come on later in life from repeated head impacts.
I’m always reminding coaches and athletic directors to be proactive in devoting more time and resources to tackling, and doing it the correct way. I’m also reminding them constantly that every player needs to be able to make a tackle. This is something that the whole team should be practicing.
Let’s face it, a good tackling technique should be one of the very first things you learn (if not THE first) as a child. Why? Because when you learn these things as a child, you develop muscle memory which makes it second nature for you to remove your head from the tackle. The sooner you start practicing, the sooner you gain that muscle memory.
Still not convinced that you should be devoting more time to tackling practice? Here are 5 reasons why we should be more focused on tackling as a team.
5 Reasons Why we Should be Devoting More Time to Tackling Practice
1. Fewer injuries
With more accurate techniques, there will be fewer injuries received. Particularly head and neck injuries. Like we talked about above, it will become muscle memory for you to remove your head from the tackle. This means you’ll be tackling safer as second nature. Tackling safer results in fewer injuries.
2. Fewer missed tackles
This means that you are going to have better defensive performances. You’ll see better stats for your players. And of course, more wins for the coaches. We want to see our players improve and eventually be able to make it to the ‘big leagues’. This will become much more likely with fewer missed tackles.
3. Increase participation levels
You’ll actually have more kids wanting to sign up and play! If parents know that their kids are learning the best and safest techniques they are more likely to be happy to let their kids keep playing longer. When all parents hear about is concussion after concussion, they’re way less likely to continue to want their kids in the game. Meaning fewer players. When parents hear about the reduced risk of concussion though, they’ll let their kids keep playing.
4. Individual skill development
When there is too much time devoted to plays and schemes, you’ll see the detriment of individual skills. When you’re coaching players at a young age, this skill development is crucial! They’ll also get more enjoyment out of the game when they feel like their individual skills are being developed and when they feel like they are growing as a player.
5. A better game
Lastly, of course, it’s better for the sport of football in the long run that we are doing everything possible to make it as safe as possible. We need to be protecting our players so that they can play the sport they love for as long as possible. And when we do that, we get a better overall game.
I hope that this has helped you better understand the importance of good tackling techniques and why it’s so important to be teaching that to kids at such a young age. However, no matter what age your coaching, you should always be focused on making sure your players are better, safer and smarter tacklers.