Great Hitting and Tackling
You ability to make great tackles is an invaluable asset to any defense. It reduces yards gained by the offense and any YAC (yards after the catch) a receiver might get.
A cornerback who can make plays on the ball and make great tackles is almost a rarity today.
Tackling is definitely an area that you want to be great at.
Here are some technique tips you've probably already heard before, but it never hurts to rehash on the basics.
Be low and square, don't turn your shoulders.
This will make sure all of your momentum goes into your opponent. Its a lot easier to drive forward than at an angle, and if you're lower than your opponent, it gives you the advantage.
You also want to stay square to keep from injuring you shoulders. If you turn your shoulders when you make contact, you put them into a weakened position, and expose them to injury.
Keep your head up; see what you hit
This is crucial when it comes to tackling, for two reasons:
- Keeping your head up allows you to line up your target and make contact where you want to.
- It also keeps you from being paralized. Hitting someone with your head down can cause paralzying neck injury or be fatal.
So keep your head up when you hit.
Aim across the chest at the numbers.
When your sprinting to make a tackle on the ball carrier, aiming at his chest will help you stay low and win the leverage battle. You're also watching the ball carrier's torso, which keeps you from getting juked.
If your running at an angle, you should aim for his outside number (the one away from you), so you can cut his angle off or still make the hit if he tries to cut back.
Hit with your shoulder pads, not your helmet.
This goes back to keeping your head up and protecting yourself. Hitting with your head, even if its up, can cause concussions and serious neck injury. It's okay to aim with your head up, but make sure you hit with your shouler pads.
Your shoulders and traps are protected and are a lot stronger than your NECK. They can also deliver a more powerful blow than your head.
You don't want to use your head to make contact with someone's body.
There is one caveat to this rule: if you can hit the ball, or hit through the arm to get to the ball, then using your helmet is okay.
Run through your opponent.
When your about to hit a ball carrier or anyone else, you shouldn't be concerned with hitting him so much as aiming for a spot about 3 yards behind him.
It's the same thing as following through on a bat swing or a left hook. You don't hit the target, you hit through the target.
Wrap up and drive your opponent into the ground.
So many times I've seen players make a nice pop on the defender, just to let him get away because they didn't WRAP UP.
As you make contact, wrap up and keep driving him into the ground.
The Physical Tackle
Football is not a nice game. It is a battle of physical and mental wills. Knowing your opponent through film study will help you break them down mentally, but you must also establish your physical dominance.
I'm not saying to intentionally hurt anyone. The goal is to win the game by getting your oppenents head out of it.
So when you tackle, be violent: slam or drive your opponent into the ground. Run through them.
Being physical with your opponents will make them either:
- get riled up and want to get payback, which means they'll be paying less attention to their assignment;
- start keeping their head on a swivel, wary of what you might be up to, which also takes their attention off the game;
- or become totally psyched out and not want to play hard anymore.
All of these give you the advantage.
The Big Hit
While you're establishing your physical presence on the field, don't go out of your way to get a big hit.
Play your game, be physical, and the big hits will come.
Get The Ball!
Remember, you're job is to get the ball back. So, if you have action at stripping the ball, and you can still make the tackle, by all means get the ball.
There are many ways to improve your tackling skill. The most game-like method is to partner with a buddy or two, strap up, and work on your tackling technique in hitting drills together.
If you want improve with a little less risk you can use your local school's tackle dummies, bags, and sleds.
You can also set up your own tackle dummies, bags, and sleds.
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