How to make a tackle in American football

How to make a tackle in American football
How to make a tackle in American football

Teaching your players the basics of making a good tackle will help them avoid injury and stay one step ahead of your opponents. You will learn to lower yourself quickly while tackling and to lift the opponent on impact with agility, precision and power. With the right basics, it will become difficult for your opponent to feign or pass over you.


Part 1 of 3: Getting the Position Right Before the Tackle

Step 1. Keep your feet shoulder-width apart

To tackle correctly and safely, you must always have a good position before tackling by staying low and using your full body width. Start by spreading your feet shoulder-width apart, with your knees slightly bent.

Step 2. Keep your shoulders back

To have more power and control for the tackle, put your shoulders back and down. This position may seem absurd to you, as if you are imitating a gorilla bulging your chest, but practice keeping this position in addition to having your feet apart for a solid base.

Step 3. Lower yourself

To make a good tackle, you need to bend down, your back is straight and at a 45 degree angle, and your shoulders are back. Bend your knees with your feet still shoulder-width apart and put your hands on your hips. This position is sometimes called the “breakdown” position, the starting position for a tackle.

Step 4. Stomp with your feet

As you move, you will need to take baby steps with your feet as you prepare to tackle.

Practice moving in this position by moving forward, backward and to the sides. You need to be able to move in all directions, especially when defending. The basis of the tackle is to be mobile while keeping this position

Step 5. Keep your head up all the time

When you move, when you tackle, when the ball is on the other end of the field, you should always have your head held high on an American football field.

  • You must maintain what is called the so-called "laconic" position. Your neck is slightly bent backwards, it is not perfectly straight. Maintaining this position is essential to see all the ground and to avoid injuries that occur when the neck is straight and tense.
  • Lowering your head during a tackle or putting your head first can lead to injury, paralysis or even death. This is a crucial point to take into account before tackling.

Part 2 of 3: make the tackle

Step 1. Run to the ball

Run on the pitch as you normally would, then get into a tackle position and stomp your feet as soon as you are close to the player holding the ball. You must get into position when you are 1m-1m50 from your opponent.

Getting into a tackle position will slow you down, but will improve your tackle precision

Step 2. Get up to tackle

The power of your tackle will come from the momentum of your knees and hips. Since you have a low and wide center of gravity, you have the ability to stop the opponent's run if you execute the tackle correctly.

  • When you are about to tackle, plant your feet firmly on the ground and make sure your head and eyes are up. Ask your coach or another player if your position before tackling is good, with your back straight, buttocks back and eyes up.
  • Having a good tackle position is much more important than using strength and speed. A very powerful player who does not master the basic position will tackle much worse than a player who masters the pre-tackle position and the tackle.

Step 3. Plate and grab

With your feet planted on the ground, this will give you the impetus to tackle your opponent. You will raise your arms, pass them under the opposing player's arms and behind his back. Raising your arms will allow you to knock your opponent down, causing them to lose their balance.

  • When catching your opponent, your hands should be placed higher than your eyes. Your two arms must catch and bring back towards you and then to the ground the opposing player.
  • Always keep your eyes on the ball carrier. When you tackle, your head and eyes should always be up.

Step 4. Put the opponent on the ground

After grabbing the opponent, let your legs do the rest of the work. Give a push with your legs to lift the opposing player and tackle him to the ground.

Part 3 of 3: Avoiding Misfired Tackles and Fouls

Step 1. Look at the opponent's hips

Most of the feints that will cause you to miss the tackle are done with the feet and upper body movements. The hips do not deceive. So watch your opponent's hips to see which direction he is going and to anticipate his movements. Maintain the correct pre-tackle position and stomp to be able to change direction and follow the opposing player.

Step 2. Hold on to the opponent

If you grab your opponent well, but haven't been able to lift them up and knock them down, keep holding on to them for as long as possible. If he gets out of hand, try to catch him at the hips, legs or feet to slow him down as much as possible and get your teammates to tackle him. Don't try to do anything else, just hang on to your opponent to hinder their progress as much as possible.

Step 3. Don't grab your opponent's helmet

When you tackle from the side or from behind, you may unintentionally grab your opponent by their helmet. Which can lead to a penalty.

Do your best not to catch the helmet when you tackle. Your fingers are not needed for a good tackle. So you better have your fists tight so you don't hurt yourself and get a penalty

Step 4. Balance well on your feet

Whether you are a linebacker or a safety, it is important to stay on your feet and maintain a good position before tackling to have more precision and power for the tackle. Only jump if you want to intercept a pass.

While watching American football games, you must have seen players jumping horizontally, which is both spectacular and imprecise, but also dangerous and illegal

Step 5. Deal with the ball last

Many players, when tackling, want to immediately remove the ball from their opponent's hands, allowing the opposing player to gain a few extra yards. Pay less attention to the ball and more to knocking the player down.


  • Get down. The lower you are, the better.
  • The player who stoops first wins.
  • Lift up the opposing player when you tackle him.
  • Always catch the player by the legs or knees.
  • Remember tackling is 50% positioning and 50% effort. You have to get in touch and be aggressive.
  • Plate from bottom to top.
  • If you can't get the ball carrier to the ground, hold on to him. This will help you knock him down or slow him down while teammates arrive.
  • If you're attacking from behind, try hitting the ball with your fist. This can be useful for doing what is called a fumble (loss of the ball by the player who has possession of it).
  • Keep your head up high, duck down and envelop your opponent.


  • Don't try to tackle with one hand unless you are at the right speed and angle.
  • Never lower your head and never place helmet against helmet.

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