How To Tackle In Football

Football is a well-known sport in the U.S. or better known as the NFL. I say that because the term “football” can be used for both the NFL and Soccer. So to halt, the confusion ill say NFL.

Tackling is one of the main tactics used in the sport. It is how you stop your opponent from scoring a touchdown. There are certain ways to do this. To protect you and the person you are tackling.


How To Tackle In Football

I use to play football back in my day. I played from the age of 6 all the way to age 16. So I have about 10 years of on field playing experience with the sport and even more than that off-field. I did not go off to college and play. I still know the basic key tackling methods that anyone who plays the sport can use. I played linebacker so tackling was my thing.

But there is a lot more to it than just putting on pads and a helmet. It is literally something you should study down to the t and make sure you are sharp at your craft. Tackling properly is a skill that not many football players are taught nowadays. The offensive part of the game has pretty much become the thing in the football world. The defensive side is only in the spotlight when someone makes a big/bad hit on a player.

Let’s dig a little deeper into some things you need to keep in mind when you are on the defensive side of the ball.


Know Your Goal – What You Are On The Field For

Know Your Goal - What You Are On The Field For
Know Your Goal – What You Are On The Field For

If you are tackling someone you are most likely on defense. There are a few instances that offensive players may have to tackle a person. This will only be the case if one of two things happen and those things are.

  • The Defensive Forces A Fumble – If the defensive forces a fumble and they recover the ball and start running. The offense is to stop him before he gets in the end zone.
  • The Defense Catches An Interception – If the offense throws an interception to the defense and the players catches the ball inbounds without being touched. The offensive is responsible to get him to the ground.

So if either of these two things happens. The offense and defense will swap roles momentarily.

When you are on the field for defense your goal is to stop the offense from getting into the end zone. That is the main reason you are out there.


Know Your Position – What Line Of Defense Are You

In football, there are 3 lines of defense. Each holds a different amount of weight. But all are needed to make a great defense.

The three lines are the following in order.


  • Defensive Line – These are the big boys you see at the front of the defense. They are to stuff running holes, get to the QB and make it hard for anything on the ground to get past them. Very skilled and experienced linemen often times deflect passes and catch interceptions. These guys are often 6’6+ so they are literally giants on the field. That height can come in handy every once in a while.


  • Linebackers – These are the guys that are usually right behind the linemen. They are the muscle that cleans up anything that the lineman did not. They aren’t as big as the lineman. But are a lot faster and are required to stop runs and passes. Depending on who you are playing against and what type of offense they run. This will vary from team to team.


  • DBs (Corners & Safety) – These are the guys on the outside of the defense. The corners will be on the far right and left side of the defense. They are usually guarding WRs and TEs. They can receive help from the linebacker if the pass is thrown in an area where the linebacker can get to. The safety is the man in the back. Better known as the last line of defense. He is the guy that oversees the entire offense/defense and is responsible for anything thrown deep or behind the linebackers.They are also looked upon to make the tackle if anyone breaks loose. The DBs aren’t the biggest guys on the field. They are leaner and more cut which is good for their position. You need speed when you are guarding a guy that runs a 4.36 in the 40. You don’t want a guy out there 6’9 265lbs trying to guard a receiver.


How To Tackle – Know Who You Are Hitting

This part is very important and you should pay close attention to it.

You need to know who you are hitting. I don’t mean send them a friend request or follow them on facebook or twitter.

How To Tackle - Know Who You Are Hitting
How To Tackle – Know Who You Are Hitting

What I mean is to know them visually. You want to “size up” anyone you are going to be tackling. This will give you some details on how you need to hit them.

For example, you would not hit a QB the same way you do an RB. You kind of already instinctively knew that. So know who you are tackling before you get a rude awakening.

You can’t hit everyone the same way and there are reasons why like the following


  • Size – Everyone is not the same size and you can get hurt very bad trying to hit a guy 260 like you would a guy 175.


  • Speed – Some guys don’t like contact and they will avoid it with their explosive speed. If you are trying to tackle a guy that runs like sonic. You need to always come at him in an angle. If it’s north and south it could result in positive yards or even a touchdown. If they get in front of you forget about it.


  • Flashy Runners – These are the guys that you see on highlight videos. They usually don’t do much. But they will juke the hell out of you. It is best to keep your eyes on their feet and time your lunge at them. If not you could find yourself on the receiving end of a magic trick that you did not sign up for the trick will be titled “Now you see him now you don’t”.


  • Truckers – These are the big bruisers RBs and FBs in the backfield on the offensive side of the ball. These guys are usually 240+ and look like they are made of bricks and concrete. They also are known to look for contact. In other words, if you are in front of them they will try to run you over. If you do not have the proper tackling technique you will get run over every time. The best way to get these guys down is a straight shot for the legs. They aren’t usually fast so all they have is power. Hit them in their legs and you’ll be alright. If you do go straight up with one you better be just as big or bigger.


How To Tackle A Quarterback

How To Tackle A Quarterback
How To Tackle A Quarterback

QBs aren’t usually big runners with the exceptions of a few. But most are just out there to hand the ball off and throw passes. Some like to run more than others. But QBs aren’t RBs and you need to know that. You will want to be as careful as you can when hitting a QB. I say that because our rules today when it comes to football have changed drastically.

You can’t just lay the smackdown on a QB like you could back in the day. If you hit a QB hard and the crowd reacts to it. Ten times out of ten the ref will throw a flag for roughing the passer even if it was or not.

So with these guys, you want to be as delicate as possible with them. This varies from each level of the sport. But still, you want to practice good tackling habits. So if you ever make it to the NFL one day you will already know how it goes.

Like I said most QBs just like to hand the ball off and throw passes. But then there are guys like this. That makes it hard to have sympathy for the QBs. If the QB you are facing is lowering his head and trying to embarrass you. Take him out or it’ll result in something like this.


How To Tackle A Running back/Fullback


These are the guys that you will want to lay the wood on as much as possible. Because they are looking to do it to you if you let them. You will want to hit these guys in their legs. Because despite their short stature these guys are extremely strong and don’t skip leg days in the weight room. So to ensure that you get them down you need to go for the legs. Trying to hit them up high will result in something like this most of the time.

How To Not Tackle A Running Back

You can see that a guy at the end tried to hit him in the legs after he was already in front of the end zone. Like I said these guys are strong and need to be taken out before they get this far. If the D-line and Linebackers would’ve slowed this man down it could’ve stopped it from getting this far. You see how he just fling the safety off him. That’s what I mean when I say DBs aren’t the biggest guys on the field. But that’s not the DB’s fault. The D-line and Linebackers should’ve stopped him before he got back there.


How To Tackle A Tight End

How To Tackle A Tight End
How To Tackle A Tight End

Tight ends are the biggest guys on the offensive side of the ball that have the potential to get the ball a lot. TEs are huge without a doubt some of the true freaks of the sport. But the same rule applies for these guys as it does with the RBs/FBs. You want to go for the legs. No human can run without their legs. So chop those big trees down the right way.

How To Tackle A Wide Receiver

Out of all the offensive positions I’ve mentioned above. You will find it the easiest to tackle these guys. WRs aren’t usually big and bulky. Most of them do not like contact and aren’t that hard to get down. You can either hit these guys in the legs or around the abdomen area if you can. But even though they aren’t looking for trouble so to speak. These are in fact the fastest guys on the field. So what they lack in power they make up in speed. So as long you can catch them or keep them in front of you. You will be ok.

You will be tempted to take kill shots on WRs from time to time. Don’t do it. I say this for two reasons.

You can seriously hurt the WR – Like but them in a coma or worse.

The same can happen to you – Football players often form brotherhoods over time. They are all connected with each other. Like brothers almost. So if you just took out this man’s brother on a kill shot. He will make it his duty to avenge the player you just hit.

So keep it clean and avoid kill shots if possible.


How To Tackle In General

You want to get as low as possible keeping your feet wide and your head up. Have you ever heard of the term the lowest man wins? Well, this is where it comes from. If you have a guy running at you and you know that it’s going to be you and him. Hunker down get low and get those legs.

Now this will differ for other situations. Let’s say you are chasing a guy and you are closing in on him. You want to jump keeping your eyes on the target which is the ball carriers feet. When you dive for him be sure to trip or grab his foot/feet. This will result in a clean safe tackle and will help you practice safe tackling methods. You don’t want to jump on players back because you are now in that ball carrier’s hands.

He might decide he wants to carry you down the field or just flat out do something to hurt you. If you grab a player by the back of their shoulder pads that considered a horse collar and will result in a flag. You can avoid both of these instances with the tackling method I just stated.

How To Tackle In General
How To Tackle In General

Another example I’m going to use is this one. Say that you are trying to tackle a guy but he is bigger and stronger than you are. You are trying your best to get him down but he won’t fall. You can do what is called a stand up in football. That is where you hold a runner in an area and let your teammates come and take him down. This can be called group tackling it is very effective and is used often.

All you are doing is slowing the momentum of the runner down and making it easier for your teammates to come clean him up.

You want to use your shoulder and legs to take down offensive players. When you tackle a person you want to use all the muscles in your legs and back to drive them in the opposite direction of out of bounds. Your shoulders, legs, and back are all you need. Oh yeah and don’t forget to wrap up.


How Not To Tackle In General


I’m going to make this as simplistic as I can. These are tackling methods you just don’t ever need to use.

  • Head to Head contact or Helmet to Helmet – This can cause brain damage, concussions, headaches etc.
  • Slamming Of Any Kind – You are a football player, not a wrestler. There is no need to be out on a field slamming people.
  • Kicking Or Punching – Once again this is football and you do not need to practice you MMA craft on the field.
  • Grabbing Of Genitals Or Pinching – This goes on in football often times in big pile ups where you can’t clearly see whats going on. Well, I’ve been on the bottom of one of those piles and let me tell you I know first hand that there are guys out there that play the game dirty. This starts fights and often off field issues.
  • Kill Shots – Kill shots are better known as hitting defenseless players. Don’t do this it often times results in serious injury and could potentially start a fight.



You need to practice good tackling habits no matter your level of play. It is going to make the game a bit safer and possibly save lives. I know that football is a contact sport and is very aggressive. A lot of people say well that’s part of the game. Yeah, I get that but would you rather visit your child in the hospital in a coma because another player who wasn’t told/taught how to tackle the correct way hit him? Or would you rather drive your kid home after the game and talk about what they want to eat later on the night. I think you would rather see the second option. So this is why I wrote this article.

Feel free to share and comment on this post i will get back with you as soon as I can. Have a nice day and thanks for reading.

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