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The tackle

Poorly executed tackles tend to be the result of poor positioning by the tackler rather than poor tackle technique. Correct positioning can and should be practised. It involves the tackler closing down the ball carrier’s space and then establishing balance and stability before stepping in close with the lead foot to allow shoulder and arm contact, which should then allow leg drive in the tackle.

  • Use the key points to improve the players’ tackle skills in a safe manner
  • Emphasise the legal requirements in the tackle regarding use of arms (see the earlier section on dangerous tackles)
  • Focus on one or two key points at a time - don’t try to coach too many key factors at once
  • Observe and analyse players to highlight good practice and correct faults
  • Provide positive and constructive feedback to improve players
  • Construct coaching sessions to encourage progressive development, and build confidence
  • An example of the tackle progression for the side-on tackle is as follows:
    - Ball carrier kneel - tackler kneel (only for side-on tackle to demonstrate head position)
    - Ball carrier stand - tackler kneel (encourage leg drive)
    - Ball carrier walk - tackler on one knee
    - Ball carrier stand - tackler squat
    - Ball carrier walk - tackler squat
    - Ball carrier walk - tackler walk
    - Ball carrier run - tackler run
  • Avoid gender, size, age and experience mismatches when introducing and developing skills
  • Ensure players practise in sufficient space to avoid accidental collisions with unseen players