Tackling:The Lost Art Form

By Eric D. Graham BASN columnist
Updated: October 11, 2011

Not Good

Not Good

NORTH CAROLINA (BASN) — Notre Dame’s famous Head Coach Knute Rockne said “It isn’t necessary to see a good tackle. You can hear it.” But has tackling become a lost art form in the NFL?

Honestly, how many highlights have you seen where poor tackling has lead to a game winning touchdown.

My football coaches always told me since little league that the worst thing you can do as a football player is to try to tackle a 230-pound running back with your arms.
“You are going to end up with two broken arms tackling like that son!!”,my coaches would shout from the sidelines.
So if I was told this in little league, Jr. high, high school, and even in college, why are they so many poor tacklers in the NFL? Are today’s defensive backs simply too scared to deliver the blow?

Are they too preoccupied with stripping the football in order to create fumbles on the field than making a good tackle?

I mean, I have seen several so-called star players dodging out of the way to avoid contact, side-stepping like they were on “Dancing with the Stars” faking themselves out and pretending to slip as running backs and wide receivers make slow cuts across the field for easy touchdowns.
I know a lot of these so-called professional athletes are hiding their face in shame while watching themselves on Monday morning meetings in the film room.
I know Adrian Patterson isn’t the easiest running back to bring down. I know Ben Roethlisberger isn’t the easiest quarterback to sack and who really wants to tackle Brandon Jacobs, a real life-size Giant that stands 6-foot-4 and 264 pounds, but make the tackle, please.
Hell, I even heard former Patriot Rodney Harrison say that he even feared when he saw Jacobs rumbling recklessly in the secondary. But this is football for Christ sakes, you have on shoulder pads and a helmet so get low and wrap him up!!

I promise, you won’t get hurt and stop all of those horse collar tackles (Hello, Roy Willliams!!)

Besides, you are getting paid millions of dollars to tackle people dummies. This is not two-hand tag. Damn, I sound like a coach!!
According to Coach Wade of Football For Youth and Coach John T.Reed who wrote the books Coaching Youth Football and Coaching Youth Football: Defense, there are four things a football player must do to deliver a perfect tackle.

1) HIT!

The tackler is to drive his shoulder into the ball carrier’s thigh pad, and nowhere else! His head should be across the runner’s body and up. His hips should be under him. There should be no bend or arch to the tackler’s back.

2) WRAP!

The tackler should fling his arms around the ball carrier’s legs and pull the runner towards him with a sharp motion. His fingers should be grabbing cloth wherever possible.

3) LIFT!

The tackler should lift the ball carrier slightly (roughly an inch or so). This serves three purposes: it keeps the tackler on his feet, preventing dives and misses; it breaks the runner’s balance and contact with the ground, and it makes the next point easier.


With short choppy steps the tackler should power the ball carrier across, rather than back along, his initial motion.

With these techniques, the NFL will be more enjoyable to watch on Sunday. So send this report to the Cleveland Browns secondary, the Dallas Cowboys defensive backs, and the entire Kansas Chiefs defensive unit.

Now, let’s go play some football.