In Part 1 of my tackling progression series, I detailed why and how I came up with a progressive system to teach tackling.
This next part encompasses how I teach the fundamentals of tackling through a progression of drills, starting with those in the Finish Phase.
As with all drills we teach, we want to go from simple and planned to complex and reactive. Doing simple and planned drills will allow all participants to gain confidence and develop the necessary skills to complete the drills that are complex later on.
Nearly every drill in the progression can be done on air, against a bag or with a partner.
In our section in California, we have "Spring Football" during the month of May. We're limited in hours per week, but we also can't use any equipment except a football. So, we start our tackling progression on air during May, beginning with the Finish Phase and ending with the Pursuit Phase.
Once June hits and we are in summer mode, our section allows us to use all equipment except for helmets, shoulder pads and leg pads. Now, we will use bags (shields) and go back through the entire progression.
When we go to our own team camp in Lake Tahoe and are in full pads for the first time, we will do our first live contact partner drills based on the progression. We will not go back through the entire progression, but hit the main concepts in a circuit instead.
After finishing camp I will evaluate where we need to begin reteaching tackling during the start of fall practice. Every year is different. We also gain players during the fall who weren't around during spring or summer football, so they must be instructed from the beginning.
FINISH PHASE DRILLS
The first drill we introduce is the "Clamp". Players start with their feet hip width apart and slightly staggered. Their hips should be fully extended and I use the term "Shamu" to get them to make a small arch in their lower back similar to this a killer whale explosively jumping out of the water.
The defender's hands are above his head with closed fists grabbing cloth (pinkies together). Players should squeeze their elbows together and focus their eyes to the sky.
We teach this fundamental with coaches roaming around a giant layout of players so everyone can go at one time. Coaches correct on the fly.
Next, we add the fundamental of driving the legs through the tackle. The next drills are "Clamp & Slow Drive" and "Clamp & Fast Drive".
Players need to pull the "ball carrier" into their body and drive their knees high and wide during the Drive portion of these drills.
Often, players will forget some of the Clamp fundamentals once the Drive fundamentals are added. I've noticed that the biggest problem with players usually involves them not squeezing their elbows together while forming the Clamp.
Check out the Hudl Presentation with video of all three drills.