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When training children to play sports such as football, care must be taken to teach them the correct ways to perform actions such as tackling. One way to ensure that children learn the proper techniques for tackling is to use tackling drills designed for kids. The drills will teach players how to tackle in ways that are safe for them and their opponents, while also developing skills that will make them better players.
All tackling drills taught to kids should focus on safe tackling methods. Improper tackling techniques can result in head and neck injuries and may injure the opponent being tackled as well. The player should assume a tackling position with his knees bent, back straight and head up so he can see his opponent. Once in this position, the player should straighten his knees to propel his body forward so that his shoulder makes contact with the other player's torso; his head should stay to the side of the torso when this contact occurs. He should then raise his arms around his opponent's torso and squeeze as he makes contact, pulling his opponent close as he moves his arms upward to lift his opponent slightly. His forward momentum and the force of the impact should do the rest to take the opponent down.
Fit drills teach kids how to assume a proper tackling position. Begin your fit drill with the players divided into two opposing lines at the line of scrimmage. When given the signal, the players in the tackling line progress through the tackling motion to the point of making contact but do not follow through to take the other player down. Check the form of each tackler, making corrections when necessary, then repeat the drill. Once the players in the tackling line have repeated the drill two or more times, reverse the positions to let the other line of players attempt the tackling motion.
Form drills are similar to fit drills but don't stop the action halfway through the tackle. Divide the players into two lines, placing each line approximately 8 feet back from the line of scrimmage. When given the signal, both lines should advance toward the line of scrimmage. The players designated as tacklers should go through the tackling motions as they would in a fit drill, but should follow through to take the opposing player down. Begin the drill at a slower speed to judge the tackling form of the players, then gradually increase the speed to full game speed as the players improve their tackles.
Hug and Hold Drills
Hug and hold drills train kids to better grasp their opponents during a tackle. As with fit and form drills, players should line up in opposing lines with one line designated as tacklers. The tacklers should assume tackling position, after which the other line advances on them and jumps up in the air before making contact. A tackler should extend his legs, reach out and wrap his arms around his opponent; the goal is for the tackler to pull the other player to him and hold him in place before he touches the ground.
Players won't always have an opportunity to perform a straightforward tackle during a football game. To prepare players for tackles made at an angle, line your players up in two lines that are spaced 5 or more feet apart. Place a cone in front of each line, and a third cone at least 5 feet in front of the lines. When given the signal, the players at the front of each line should advance around the first cones and then angle toward the second. As the two players meet, the player from one line should perform an angle tackle on the other. Begin the drills at a walking pace, then gradually increase the speed to full game speed once all players are safely executing an angle tackle.
Score drills teach players to follow opponents during a game. Set up a series of sandbags or other obstacles in a line with enough space between them that players can easily run through. Place two opposing players on either side of the line of obstacles, with one player designated as the tackler. The other player will run side-to-side while the tackler tries to follow him; the player can attempt to fake out the tackler if desired. When given a signal, the running player should run between the closest two obstacles toward the tackler while the tackler attempts to tackle him.
Open Field Drills
Open field drills teach essential in-game skills that can mean the difference between victory and defeat. Set up three cones in a line on the field with approximately 15 feet between each. Place two additional cones on either side of the center cone, spaced approximately 12 feet from it. Opposing players should be placed at the farthest cones, with one designated as a tackler and one as a runner. When a signal is given, both players move toward the center cone; upon reaching the cone, the runner can choose to run to either of the side cones. The tackler must try to tackle the runner before he reaches a side cone.
Chase drills teach players how to strip the ball from players that are ahead of them on the field. Separate the players into "runner" and "tackler" lines, with the runner line staggered 6 to 9 feet ahead of the tackler line. The runner carries a football and progresses at half speed down the field when you give a signal, while the tackler sprints up from behind. The tackler should attempt an angle tackle; during the tackle he should also attempt to knock the ball out of the runner's grasp by either coming down on the ball or hitting the ball from below when he extends his arms.