Why is a change in tackling techniques necessary now?
Heightened awareness on the dangers of concussions and long term brain injury from sub concussive impacts has brought to the forefront the need to change the culture of youth tackle football to protect the future of the sport by addressing injury, liability, and insurance concerns. Traditional risk management techniques of concussion education, recognition, removal, treatment, and return-to-play protocols don’t address the risk of an accumulation of sub concussive impacts over multiple seasons. Therefore, programs like TackleSure have emerged to remove the head from tackling and to introduce tackling drills that don’t require pads and can be executed with limited contact. I strongly recommend the TackleSure program as a part of a comprehensive concussion/brain injury risk management program for youth tackle football.
Description of TackleSure online training course
TackleSure, an official licensed partner of NFL Players, is an online course that consists of 11 class segments which are followed by an online multiple choice test. After registering and paying the reduced $5.00 course fee for AYF members, registrants view videos with instruction by Thurmond Moore (college and NFL defensive coach) and Jared Allen (All-Pro defensive end) where they define the problem, introduce the correct tackling technique and terminology, introduce drills to reinforce each aspect of the technique, and demonstrate the step-by-step coaching process in the field on inexperienced youth players. In addition, segments include concussion education and introduce the new Reebok Check Light Skull Cap product. Most will not complete the course in a single sitting, but it’is easy to log back in and start the next segment. The course includes a 100-page PDF document that is a great reference tool for coaches as it explains and illustrates all drills.
Why I reviewed the course
As a leader in sports insurance and risk management for youth tackle football, I decided to take the
TackleSure course to gain a better education and to experience what my clients would experience. After all, how could I recommend a course without having experienced it myself? I do need to add the disclaimer that I never played organized football and have never coached it.
However, my son played as a 7th grader, so I have observed a number of youth practices and games. Therefore, my observations on TackleSure are from the perspective of a neophyte but that may not be
too far off as many coaches are dads who have unexpectedly found themselves in a coaching position.
What is wrong with the traditional tackling technique?
The traditional tackling technique of putting the head to side and wrapping up the ball carrier with the arms tends to result in reaching, a bending forward at the waist, and all too often leading with the head. The hammer metaphor of being a hammer (knees bent – power angle – back straight) as opposed to being a nail (bend at the waist) has also been used to describe the correct tackling technique. Unfortunately, the traditional tackling technique is usually taught and practiced at full contact, which results in a greater probability of head contact, more sub concussive impacts, and a greater chance of concussions.
Safety at the sacrifice of effectiveness?
The main objective of TackleSure is to get the head out of the tackle. Does this mean that the safer tackling technique is less effective? Not according to the experts. The TackleSure technique actually brings more force to the tackle due to the explosion of the hips, the throwing of the uppercuts, and the double-time leg drive. The traditional tackling technique of leaning forward from the waist and wrapping up does not have the same explosiveness because the lower body and core are not engaged and the wrapping of the arms to the side results in a misdirection of potential upper body force away from the ball carrier.
The major components of the TackleSure technique
TackleSure can be introduced to a team in three days and fully implemented in two weeks. In addition, the drills are designed for no pads and lessened contact so that they can be repeatedly practiced and reinforced to build muscle memory. The techniques are taught from simple to complex, from the end of the tackle forward, from teaching pace to full speed pace, and from left foot forward and right foot forward.
- Clamp progression eliminates the head as a weapon and teaches the basics of tackling technique from finish stance (lower body positioning and engagement of hips forward), one legged take off, belly button/hips through, chest pop, clamp and claw (upper body engagement of getting head out of tackle by looking up at high hands and tying up ball carrier between elbows with hands grabbing cloth on back of ball carrier’s jersey), and machine gunning legs to provide power to finish off tackle.
- Chest pop progression adds refinements to promote power in tackle with continued emphasis on removing the head. Starts with flat back stance and elbows back with guns in holsters, one legged take off, explode hips into ball carrier, shoot strong double upper cuts, make contact with chest, lift and tie up ball carrier, kick opposite leg high and wide, and double time high and wide with legs.
- Shimmy progression adds open field positioning and footwork transitioning toward ball carrier includes sprinting, shimmy stance, break step, and fit position.
- Near–foot progression adds the element of aiming near foot at ball carrier.
- Specialty tackles: – lawnmower, tomahawk, and gator.
What you need to know before you take the course
The course is thorough, but it needs to be in order to explain, reinforce, and illustrate the techniques and
drills to the coaches. The last two course segments are repeats of earlier segments, but they are critical to see what is likely to happen when these concepts are introduced to inexperienced youth players and the corrections that need to be made in the field. All 11 segments take approximately 4.5 hours. to complete. However, not all segments are necessary viewing to pass the test. Also, remember that TackleSure does not require on-field instruction because the videos are so thorough and well-illustrated.
The major competing tackle course takes about 20 minutes online plus an on-the-field training clinic. The online portion doesn’t come close to approaching the thoroughness and effectiveness of the TackleSure program in terms of either safety or improved tackling. In addition, the on-field training clinic comes with the related hassles of travel, scheduling, and make ups.
Be sure to take notes as you watch the TackleSure videos so you can reference them during the exam. The exam is not a cakewalk.
TackleSure is just a part of a comprehensive concussion/brain injury risk management program. In addition, a basic concussion course should be required such as the CDC’s Heads Up or NAYS Concussion Awareness and all organizations should have written policies and procedures to address recognition, removal, treatment, and return-to-play protocol.
Overall, I give the TackleSure training a very high rating and believe that I would be able to teach the correct technique if I were to become a youth football coach. It’s important for the instruction be geared to first-time coaches. I also applaud their decision to offer the entire training program online as opposed to in-person coach clinics. We all know that with volunteer organizations, it is virtually impossible to coordinate live training for all coaches at the same time due to scheduling conflicts and the addition of new coaches later in the season.
Click here to access the TackleSure program.
For more information on a comprehensive football/cheer brain injury risk management program, visit the concussion section of our Risk Management page.