Friday, June 10, 2011

Front on tackle training session

This session is to coach players to make head on tackles on players running straight at them. The key requirement for this type of tackle is to prevent the opponent breaking through the defensive line.

What you tell your players to do

  • Get your head to one side of the ball carrier.
  • Make contact with your shoulders on the bottom of their shorts.
  • Let the ball carrier's momentum take you to the ground.
  • Hold on as you fall and land with a tight grip. Don't let the ball carrier get back to their feet with the ball.

What you get your players to do


Start with players on their haunches and with their arms out. Have them fall backwards and to one side. They must turn, land on their front and jump up again.
This will simulate the "falling" when making a front on tackle.
Make sure they warm-up falling both ways.

Main practice

In a 2 metre channel, set up a tackler on their haunches. A ball carrier jogs forward and falls over a designated shoulder of the tackler.
Develop this by increasing the speed of the runner and making sure they attack both shoulders. Eventually have the tackler standing up to tackle proactively.

Developing the session

The training session can be developed as follows.
  • Change the aggressiveness of the runner, depending on the ages and skills levels of your players.
  • Have two tacklers in a line, with one tackler going lower than the other.

A game situation

The session can be developed further by playing the "break the line" game.
  • Mark out a 10 metre square box. Three defenders have to defend a line against two attackers with a ball. The keys are communication and good use of the front on tackle.
  • Make sure the tackling team completes the tackle by getting to their feet to contest for the ball. The game finishes once the ball is retrieved by the defenders, or the attackers have scored.

Coach's notes

What to call out

  • "Head up, chin off your chest"
  • "Keep your eyes open throughout the tackle"
  • "Twist the ball carrier as you fall"
  • "Hold on tight throughout the tackle"

What to look for

Poor head position: A key factor not only for safety but also for an effective tackle. The head should be flush against the pocket of the shorts.
Bouncing off the tackle: Tacklers need to bend at the knees and open the arms wide, and then lock onto the target.
What to think about
  • Can the front on tackle be used more aggressively with the ball carrier driven back?
  • It is recommended that at junior levels, tackles are kept at thigh height. At more experienced levels, the tackler can target the ball.
  • Some players can be taught to step into the tackle, with the front foot and impact shoulder on the same side of the body.