By Vince DiGaetano
Program Analyst for Football
Wagner College (NY)
From a defensive perspective, there is only six different ways from a play to end; tackle, incomplete pass, out of bounds, penalty, takeaway or a score. On average each season you find that 70-75% of all plays defended end in a tackle. With that being said, is that same percentage of time reflected in your practice schedule?
The offseason is a great time to go back and see what you are doing well in the realm of tackling so that you can address the areas of need throughout the offseason and into the next. This report is meant to focus on fundamentals, planning and corrections in the area of tackling. I began looking at how our players tackle after 2012. At that time, I was at SUNY-Maritime and I set out to create a plan to improve on it in the offseason and preseason. The focus was on finding what specific corrections need to be made by position and player. Since then, we have built this into a program that has changed the way that we practice out tackling.
We assess missed tackles by failure to secure the ball carrier and stop the play. If the tackler is able to get the ball carrier down they are considered tackle. If the ball carrier gains additional yardage, it would still count as a tackle, but a correction also applies. We have also spent a lot of time calculating the yards after first contact.
The percentages are all based on the amount of total times that they play would end in a tackle, missed tackles also, to apply the correction. Each of the plays are graded based on the fundamentals applied to the tackle.
With this information in hand, we are able to spin it forward to working the proper drill work to correct these issues in winter workouts (weight room, etc.) or in spring. We are looking to work two specific concepts.
- Drills revolve around 3 main areas. Tracking/approach, Form or rugby/roll (below the waist)
- Corrections are based on 4 main areas. Approach (buzz), Hitting position (hit), force (shoot), secure tackle(rip)
This that information in hand, we the construct our drill time accordingly based on need and the progression. Once we master approach, we work on next phase. Interior guys will have more form. Perimeter more rugby roll. We change approach based on position group as well.
We try to steal time and apply these concepts to all seasons. In the weight room, we focus on squeezing from the lat muscles to secure tackles and preach the shooting of the hips in the explosive moments. Terminology remains consistent in the weight room and work outs. In the spring, we spend a little more time advancing progression. Take a little more time to do non-contact work. This gives us an opportunity to slow down and teach a little more. It also gives us an opportunity to get new coaches to staff involved and trained as early as possible.