The Tackling Progression Drills are a series of drills that focus on preparing players to tackle properly and safely. The drills begin with stationary elements against bags to allow players to fine-tune technique and eventually build toward full contact with teammates. Special thanks to the Dunlap High School football program and coaches for volunteering to demonstrate the drills below:


#1 - Hands behind back drill

The player starts on his knees with his butt not quite touching his calves. He places his hands behind his back and we put a pad out in front of him. The player holds this position while the coach checks to make sure that his back is flat and his neck is bowed and eyes are forward. Once the coach is good with all of the positions of the players he blows his whistle. On the whistle the player shoots his hips upwards, chest out, back flat and neck straight. This explosion upwards and out should bring him slightly up in the air and forward. The player will land on his chest and stomach on top of the pad in front of him. This drill teaches keeping the player’s back and neck in alignment while emphasizing creating power from the hips.
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#2 - Chest to chest (hands behind back) drill

Next the player starts in the same starting position as above. This time a teammate takes the dummy that was on the ground and a holds it directly in front of the tackler at about 6 inches away tilted like a RB lowering his shoulder. The tackler will again shoot his hips upward while keeping his back and neck in a good hitting position. The player’s chest should end up chest to chest with the dummy. The coach is looking for explosion from the hips, chest to chest contact and that the back and neck of the tackler are in a good position.

#3 - Chest to chest with arms

The drill is executed just as above but this time as the chest of the player makes contact with the dummy the player shoots his arms upward so that he gets under the pads armpits. The teaching point here is to get all the explosion from the hips and arms to land in the chest and armpits of the ball carrier. The coach is looking for explosion, chest to chest contact, arms going upward and the position of the tackler’s back and neck.

#4 - Chest to chest from feet (hands behind back)

This drill is very similar to the above two drills except the tackler starts six inches from the pad and this time he is on his feet in a good hitting position. Knees are bent, back is flat, neck is in alignment, arms are loose and down to the side. On the coach’s whistle the tackler will shoot his hips, get chest to chest with the dummy and then with a wide base take small choppy steps to push the bag back with his chest. The teaching point is to make contact with the shoulder pads and then chest as the tackler explodes upwards with his hips. The tackler will drive the dummy back five yards after making chest to chest contact. The coach is looking for explosion, chest to chest finish, good neck and back position and a good wide base while driving the dummy.

#5 - Chest to chest from feet with arms

Same drill as above but this time the tackler will shoot the arms upwards once he makes contact with the dummy. The tackler will still drive the dummy back for five yards. The coach is looking for explosion, chest to chest finish, good wide base and back and neck position as well as a good wide base while driving the dummy.
    

#6 - Moving dummy straight forward

The tackler will start 5 yds from the hand held dummy. On the whistle the player holding the dummy will walk forward and when he gets in the hitting zone (two feet from the defender) the defender (who is stationary in an athletic hitting position) will shoot his hips, keep his back and neck in correct position, shoot his arms upwards and get a wide base and drive the dummy back five yards. The coach is looking for explosion, positioning and that the defender is shooting his hips at the correct time.


#7. Moving dummy at angle

The same drill as above except the dummy comes in at an angle.


#8 - Full speed dummy drive

The tackler and dummy start 5 yds apart and on the whistle run at full speed at one another. The tackler should break down once he is within 1 ½ to 2 yds of the dummy and execute a proper tackle. He should shoot his hips and arms, get chest to chest, have a wide base and drive the dummy back all while keeping his back and neck in a good position.


#9 - Full speed dummy drive at angle

The same drill as above except the dummy comes in at an angle.

#10 - Live Five yard tackling

Put one ball carrier at 5 yds from the tackler with two cones marking one yard outside of each of them. The ball carrier should run straight at the tackler just as he would in a game. The tackler should execute proper tackling technique by breaking down and getting in a good position, shooting his hips and arms, getting chest to chest with the ball carrier, driving him back with a wide base all while keeping his back and neck in a good hitting position. The coach can dictate that this drill begin at half speed and work up to full speed.

#11 - Live Angle Five Yard Tackling

The same drill as above except the ball carrier comes in at a 45 degree angle.