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When a defense plays poorly, a major contributor to that lack of success is usually poor tackling. Tackling is a base fundamental of playing successful defense. Fundamentals are skills that can be taught, learned, and constantly improved upon. There are 5 elements that are essential in all types of tackles. These are consistent in every situation that you can be placed in. A mastering of the following will improve your tackling immensely.
1. Eyes- Your eyes should concentrate on the numbers of the ball carrier. All reactions come from what you see. Your overall body control comes from what your eyes tell the body to do. Concentration on the hips or the belt buckle has a tendency to cause the body to bend over too much, and over-extend.
2. Contact Point- This is the part of your body that makes the initial contact with the ball carrier. Your head should be up with your neck bulled. Your shoulders should end up in the number area of the ball carrier.
3. Shoulders parallel- your shoulders should be parallel when you gather to tackle. This will allow you to react properly in either direction. NOTE: Shoulders should be parallel to aiming point on the ball carrier.
4. Arm Wrap- Upon contact, your arms should come up alongside the ball carrier. You lock your arms around the body of the ball carrier. If you cannot lock, then grab as much cloth of the ball carrier as you possibly can. The combination of arms and legs will determine whether the ball carrier falls forward or backwards after contact.
5. Legs- Your legs are very important in getting lift into your tackle. This will offset the forward drive of the ball carrier by getting his cleat off the ground. When you make contact, you should “rise” through the ball carrier. Your legs also are essential in driving the ball carrier backwards following initial contact. The ability to move your legs “through” a ball carrier is essential.
Now go out there and “be the hammer, not the nail.”
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