8 Closed Space Tackle Drills

Aug 1, 2019 | Tackling, Defense, Fundamentals

By Mike Kuchar
Senior Research Manager
X&O Labs
Twitter: @MikekKuchar



fautackleWe were surprised to find that these types of tackles had a 31 percent missed rate. Open field tackling is perpetually touted as one of the bigger challenges in defensive football, yet we’ve talked to numerous coaches who have worked hard on enforcing how to teach their defenders to make one on one in the hole tackles with limited space around them. While these types of missed tackles may not present the highest rate of big plays, they do present the risk of ball carriers lunging for extra yards on contact, which could result in drive sustainability. We found the following common errors as it pertains to open field tackling:

  • Not staying square on ball carrier
  • Not striking up and through ball carrier
  • Not running feet on contact

So we combed through our drill library to find the eight drills that best presented the most effective ways to fix these issues complete with coaching points and video. We classified them into which of these problem areas they alleviate.

Editor’s Note: The following drills are cataloged in our drill film library. Insiders members can gain access to our entire drill and game film library, which contain more drills done by these programs.

Issue: Not Staying Square on Ball Carrier

In a one on one tackle situation in closed space, the defender must know that he has the option of using either outside in or inside out leverage. But whichever leverage he chooses he must stay square or risk the ball carrier falling forward for extra yards after contact. Chris Ash, the defensive coordinator at Ohio State University talks about keeping the outside hip closed in order to stay square. These are the best drills we’ve found to reinforce this fundamental.