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Super Bowl XLIV: Another Reminder of the Lost Art of Tackling in the NFL

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - FEBRUARY 07: Gary Brackett #58 of the Indianapolis Colts tries to tackle Marques Colston #12 of the New Orleans Saints during Super Bowl XLIV on February 7, 2010 at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)
Donald Miralle/Getty Images
Victor SpurrierContributor IIFebruary 8, 2010

From watching the NFL, I would assume that proper tacking form is something like this:

1. Sprint as fast as you can, running high, toward the opposing player.

2. Once reaching your opponent, dive for his legs or midsection.

3. Lead with your head. ALWAYS.

4. Tuck your arms in and come at him like a missile.

5. Go for the kill shot. EVERY TIME.

Now, to be honest, this does not seem right to me. 

No coach has ever instructed me to do any of these things, but you rarely see an NFL player tackle in any form aside from this. Every coach I have every spoken to has taught the same basic tackling principles, the same fundamentals, and none of those are on the above list. 

Proper technique is more like this:

1. Stay under control. If you are out of control, you will get beat.

2. Stay low. Low man ALWAYS wins.

3. Keep your hips under you.

4. Tackle through your man. Drive your feet.

5. Tackle the hips.

6. Head goes to the ball; tackle with your chest.

7. WRAP UP.

8. Make the sure tackle; don't worry about the big hit.

Sound familiar to any former players? The big hit may be exciting, but, more often than not, going for the big hit results in a missed tackle. If you watched the Super Bowl, you saw what I'm getting at. 

Poor form resulted in missed tackles. Missed tackles resulted in touchdowns for both teams. Players were not wrapping up, and on the occasion that they were wrapping they were going for arm tackles. Just look at Pierre Thomas' touchdown run for evidence.

Look at highlights from any NFL running back. You'll see the guy breaking huge gains because of arm tackles, or defenders failure to wrap up and the runner slipping away.

Not only does this make defenses less effective, but it isn't safe to tackle with your head. Coaches in lower levels of football emphasize not leading with your head because you can end up with an injured, if not broken, neck, as well severe concussions.

Part of football's injury problem comes from unsafe tackling. Leading with your head often results in concussions. The NFL is considering rule adjustments to make football safer. How about we start with teaching players to tackle instead of going for the big hit?

Players don't tackle anymore—they hit.

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