Tackling fundamentals youth football has changed over the last 5 years from leading with your head across the ball carriers body to leading with your shoulder on the near thigh. USA Football and the NFL are very worried about head injuries and the decline of the sport due to all the brain injuries with older professional football players.

tackling fundamentals youth football

USA Football has changed the Heads up Football program to the USA Football Tackling systems which are based on the Seattle Seahawk Rugby shoulder tackling system. I implemented the Seahawk Tackling system around 2015 and it has been great. I use near shoulder tackles and near pectoral tackles.

I highly recommend every coach watch these USA Football tackling training videos for proper tackling fundamentals. The Seattle Seahawks also have several tackling video on their NFL site and on YouTube about Rugby tackling techniques which is also very good. Both tackling techniques focus on shoulder tackling and removing the head from the process as much as possible. Concussion injuries are driving these new tackling shoulder first techniques.

We’ve started using tackle wheels and yoga balls to teach this shoulder system. You can see the Tackle Wheel Tackling Station youth football drill. Click the link. We also do a ton of fit tackling drills in our two line station. These two tackling stations help us get a ton of tackling reps in.

Tackling Fundamentals Youth Football

A few additional tackling fundamentals youth football focus points are:

  1. Eyes on RB belt buckle target
  2. Approach & Breakdown on RB
  3. Bull Neck back, eyes up and head not down
  4. Drive Hips & Run through the RB
  5. Body / Shoulder Hit first not arm tackle
  6. Shoot Arms around the RB
  7. Wrap up the RB like a Bear Hug
  8. Drive for two steps and Roll
  9. Grab clothe until help arrives
  10. Try to stay on your feet before Hit
  11. If stall, fall, pull & roll w/ RB
  12. Low tackles in LOS Box
  13. High Chest Pectoral Shoulder tackle if in open Field
  14. Don’t forget to Push out of bounds too
youth football tackling fundamentals

During practices, we review form tackles quite a bit and stress safety; Eyes up and Bull Neck. We run through angle drills quite a bit. Since implementing shoulder tackling in 2015, we are not having the youth football tackler shoot their heads across the RBs body but just drive shoulder through RBs near thighs and head behind the RB.

The tackler then drives through the RB thighs and then rolls, similar to the Seattle Seahawk video. We call this roll the crocodile death roll. The football will sometimes pop out during this twisting toll.

We thought shoulder tackles would be an issue with broken tackles but the rugby tackling is working pretty well. It is all about coaching the shoulder first technique and being aggressive tackling the ball carrier with the body / shoulder not the arms. Use the shoulder and body to slow the runners momentum.

The great thing about the new tackling technique is the kid’s heads are not getting hit as much by thighs and taking full body blows to the head as much.

Have you implemented the Seahawk Shoulder Tackling Techniques? Leave me a comment. I Would love to hear from you.

Tackling fundamentals youth football is one of the two basics of football according to Lombardi; tackling and blocking. Your youth football team will be well served to focus and spend a lot of practice time perfecting how to tackle the opposing ball carrier. Offense sells tickets and Defense wins Championships and tackling defines your Defense if not your team.

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