Is Form Tackling Overrated?

/ / Is Form Tackling Overrated?

I attended a Denver football clinic last year and the speaker, an ex college coach, brought up a very interesting point for youth football coaches.  How many times do you see a perfect form tackle in a high school, college or pro football games?  He proposed not very often, and you know what, I must agree.  I played football for 10 years from 8 years old to 18, and I think I made 10 perfect form tackles.  As an outside Linebacker, I was usually on the run, pushing through blockers and clinging to the runner to pull him down.  How many perfect form tackles have you seen or made?

I must agree that form tackling is overrated.  I think it is great to teach the form tackling technique to protect against neck injuries and how to drive your legs through the player, but most tackles are made spontaneously grabbing any part of the ball carrier to bring him down.  You don’t see a lot of NFL or NCAA players breaking down into a perfect form tackling stance before making the initial hit.  Everything is moving too quick.

So really, tackling is about bringing the ball carrier to the ground for youth football players and all defensive football players.

Good luck this season.  Play for fun and Winning is funner.


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  1. I agree that you don’t see many form tackles. But I teach it so that kids will learn to keep their heads up.

  2. Coach,

    While you don’t see a lot of form tackles in a real youth football game, there is great value in teaching it. Most kids when they first start out playing football don’t know the proper and safe components of a well executed tackle. Many are also a bit afraid of contact as well. It is extremely important for the weaker players, if they don’t use good form, they don’t have the athleticism or strength to overcome poor technique.

    We teach it, we stress it and practice it every practice and the kids I coach are always the best tackling team in the league. Our first team defense has given up 18-19 total touchdowns in the last 8 seasons combined.

    We don’t just turn kids loose and expect them to pick up things on their own, thats why they have coaches. Only the very best and most athletic of players can get by with their strength and talent, the majority of youth football players aren’t in the group.

    With the teams I studied, the ones that did not do much form and technique training and just went all out and had the kids figure it out on their own did SIGNIFICANTLY worse than those teams that took the time to break down and teach fundamental football movements.

  3. I agree that proper form tackling techniques should still be coached for safety and good football movement. And I agree that if you don’t coach any type of tackling and “turn them loose” they are going to do significantly worse on defense. I never suggested that premise.

    I think youth football players need to know there is another option to form tackling, otherwise the pee wee football player may not understand you can make a one armed tackle or a shoe string tackle. Just like you coach QB’s to throw the ball away instead of taking a sack, we should be coaching how to make tackles even when defensive players are not in position to make a form tackle.

  4. I definitely agree at younger ages form tackling teaches much more than tackling. Other wise you get a lot of arm tackles and players that are not set up in postion to tackle. The two main benefits is to tackle correctly to avoid injury and the other is allow a player to wrap up and gain confidence that they can “go into” a tackle.

  5. Watching Pee Wee for the first time (my son is the smallest kid on the pee wee team), I’m glad they teach and stress form tackling.

    You are correct when you say that the game moves to fast to allow it but before they taught it, almost every new player was leading with their helmet and with the head down.

    While you don’t see many form tackles, the opportunity still comes up and even if it isn’t perfect…knowing how to FINISH a tackle is a valuable skill. My son is small and hasn’t quite figured it all out yet but in scrimmages this past week, he had two solo tackles in the backfield and a one-on-one with a WR as a corner. On the flipside, when he forgot his fundamentals (playing SF) he got really lost.

    I think it’s a skill that forms the basis for good habits but more advanced levels of play will require more than just form.

  6. It does not matter how many times you see a formed tackle, you should still teach it and at least try to do it when you tackle, and also it really helps if you can’t form tackle you should at least try to grab something when you tackle.

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