Avoid Helmet-to-Helmet Hits With Proper Tackling

October 19, 2010

Must See Football Videos

This past weekend's football action frighteningly highlighted the growing epidemic of helmet-to-helmet hits and the nasty injuries that result. At some point on Sunday, more than a half-dozen NFL players, including Dunta Robinson, DeSean Jackson, Josh Cribbs and Mohamed Massaquoi, lay unconscious and motionless on the field following helmet-to-helmet collisions. On Saturday, Eric LeGrand, a defensive tackle for Rutgers, was paralyzed from the neck down after making a tackle on kickoff coverage late in the game.

This type of hitting is nothing new. In fact, the bone-crushing, helmet-to-helmet hit has been celebrated in NFL highlight films and by our elevation to  legendary status of lethal safeties like Jack Tatum, Ronnie Lott and Chuck Cecil. Simply put, this type of explosive, violent contact is what has made football overwhelmingly the most popular sport in the United States. However, today's athletes are bigger, stronger, faster and more powerful, which virtually guarantees much more damaging injuries when two massive men collide. In addition, our knowledge of what these hits can do to the human body—paralysis, concussions, brain damage—has evolved, causing the campaign to rid football of missile-style tackling to gain momentum and attract proponents on a daily basis.

The NFL just passed a rule that allows the league to immediately suspend helmet-to-helmet violators. The NFL hopes that taking away precious playing time will be more effective than the drop-in-the-bucket fines they've used in the past. Last night, former NFL Pro Bowl center LeCharles Bentley told us that he would take things even further. "This is an extremely violent game," he said. "This is the only place you can hit or assault someone and not get arrested. I was a mean, aggressive and violent player, but I truly believe that anyone who goes out there and purposely tries to injure someone with a helmet-to-helmet hit should be banned from the game completely."

The NFL and other governing bodies can concoct rules to outlaw this type of hit, but it comes down to the sport's participants. Every NFL locker room features wall posters reminding the team's players to tackle with their heads up and "see what they hit" in an effort to reduce injury to the neck, spine and head itself.

This subtle reminder doesn't seem to be working, so maybe it's time to put things in performance-based terms: leading with your head or shoulder is an ineffective way to tackle. Countless times, we've seen defenders go in for a so-called "kill shot" only to bounce off the ball carrier and end up on the ground. When you leave your feet and try to deliver a single blow, you violate the number one rule of tackling: hit, wrap and run through. For this reason, no rational football coach has ever taught his players to tackle with helmet-to-helmet contact.

To prevent being penalized, injured or simply run over by a ball carrier, use the tackling guidelines below:

-See what you hit. Focus your eyes directly on the ball carrier's chest.

-Lead with your chest, not your head or shoulder, to tackle in squared-up fashion.

-Do not leave your feet; keep them driving through the ball carrier.

-Keep your hips below your shoulders. Begin low and rise through the tackle.

-Wrap up.

Photos:  espn.com, sportsmedicineconcepts.com

Josh Staph
- Josh Staph is the Senior Vice President, Content at STACK Media and joined the company shortly after it was founded in 2005. He graduated from...
Josh Staph
- Josh Staph is the Senior Vice President, Content at STACK Media and joined the company shortly after it was founded in 2005. He graduated from...
Must See
NFL Wide Receiver Randall Cobb Outworks Everyone NFL Wide Receiver Randall Cobb Outworks Everyone
Views: 33,759,708
Michael Jordan: Mind of a Champion Michael Jordan: Mind of a Champion
Views: 548,374
Drew Brees Will Not Be Denied Drew Brees Will Not Be Denied
Views: 11,426,460

Featured Videos

Tobin Heath Closed-Space Dribbling Tobin Heath Closed-Space Dribbling Views: 1,175,887
Real Workouts: Randall Cobb Real Workouts: Randall Cobb Views: 23,406
Path to the Pros 2015: Shaq Thompson Path to the Pros 2015: Shaq Thompson Views: 70,968
Load More

Resources

STACK Fitness

Everything you need to be fitter than ever

STACK Conditioning

Sport-specific conditioning programs

Coaches and Trainers

Tips and advice for coaches and trainers

Magazine

Latest issues of STACK Magazine

STACK 4W

Women's sports workout, nutrition and lifestyle advice

Gamer

Gaming, entertainment and tech news

Basic Training

Military-style training for athletes

News

Find the latest news relevant to athletes

Most Popular Videos

Ohio State Football Open Field Plyo Drill Ohio State Football Open Field Plyo Drill
Views: 9,499,214
Drew Brees Will Not Be Denied Drew Brees Will Not Be Denied
Views: 11,426,460
Two-Ball Dribbling Drill With John Wall Two-Ball Dribbling Drill With John Wall
Views: 3,362,798
Roy Hibbert 540 lbs Deadlift Roy Hibbert 540 lbs Deadlift
Views: 1,577,836
Dribbling Drills for Tighter Handles Dribbling Drills for Tighter Handles
Views: 4,333,222

Load More
More Cool Stuff You'll Like
4 Tips to Become a Better Softball Pitcher

4 Tips to Become a Better Softball Pitcher

Although my career as a softball pitcher ended decades ago, I still identify with the sport because it continues to shape me off the field today. After...

4 Tips for Coaching Low-Velocity Softball Pitchers

4 Tips for Coaching Low-Velocity Softball Pitchers

Softball Pitchers: How to Play Your Best Over a Complete Season

Softball Pitchers: How to Play Your Best Over a Complete Season

Teach the Layup with the Two-Step Drill

Teach the Layup with the Two-Step Drill

Become a Better Baserunner With This Agility Drill

Become a Better Baserunner With This Agility Drill

Wide Receivers: Learn to Catch Every Jump Ball, Every Time

Wide Receivers: Learn to Catch Every Jump Ball, Every Time

2 Drills to Help You Play Lockdown Basketball Defense

2 Drills to Help You Play Lockdown Basketball Defense

5 Drills to Improve Your Soccer Dribbling Skills

5 Drills to Improve Your Soccer Dribbling Skills

Winter Soccer Workout to Improve Ball Handling

Winter Soccer Workout to Improve Ball Handling

How Ryan Mathews Returned to Highlight Reel Status

How Ryan Mathews Returned to Highlight Reel Status

'Squash the Bug' and Other Softball Batting Tips That Don't Work

'Squash the Bug' and Other Softball Batting Tips That Don't Work

4 Drills That'll Help You Become an Elite Running Back

4 Drills That'll Help You Become an Elite Running Back

Why You Shouldn't Specialize in One Sport Too Soon

Why You Shouldn't Specialize in One Sport Too Soon

Basketball Speed Drills for Offense

Basketball Speed Drills for Offense

3 Secrets of the NBA's Best Shooters

3 Secrets of the NBA's Best Shooters

Become a Better Point Guard With This Training Program

Become a Better Point Guard With This Training Program

The 4 Fundamentals of Hitting a Baseball

The 4 Fundamentals of Hitting a Baseball

The Football Route Tree, Explained

The Football Route Tree, Explained

4 Soccer Drills to Shoot Better While on the Move

4 Soccer Drills to Shoot Better While on the Move

How Stephen Curry Became the Best Shooter in the NBA

How Stephen Curry Became the Best Shooter in the NBA

Success With Health: How Trevor Bauer Increased His Velocity

Success With Health: How Trevor Bauer Increased His Velocity

3 Steps to Better In-Game Baseball Hitting

3 Steps to Better In-Game Baseball Hitting

WATCH: 5 Post Moves From Nerlens Noel

WATCH: 5 Post Moves From Nerlens Noel

Learn to Shoot a Basketball with the BEEF Method

Learn to Shoot a Basketball with the BEEF Method

How to Improve Your Football Skills Mid-Season

How to Improve Your Football Skills Mid-Season

10 Essential Point Guard Drills From Skylar Diggins

10 Essential Point Guard Drills From Skylar Diggins

Why Basketball Players Must Improve Their Weak Hand

Why Basketball Players Must Improve Their Weak Hand

Improve Your Jump Shot with Core Strength

Improve Your Jump Shot with Core Strength

How QB Ryan Tannehill Beats the Blitz

How QB Ryan Tannehill Beats the Blitz

Build a Better Layup With These Basketball Speed Drills

Build a Better Layup With These Basketball Speed Drills

These 3 Route-Running Drills Will Help You Get Open

These 3 Route-Running Drills Will Help You Get Open

Learn from Steph Curry: Stay the Course to Beat the Defense

Learn from Steph Curry: Stay the Course to Beat the Defense

Boost Your Fastball With This Weighted Baseball Workout

Boost Your Fastball With This Weighted Baseball Workout

10 Tips Every AAU Player Must Know

10 Tips Every AAU Player Must Know

Basketball Shooting Technique: How to Shoot a Floater

Basketball Shooting Technique: How to Shoot a Floater

Drive Defenders Crazy With These Super Moves from NBA Legends

Drive Defenders Crazy With These Super Moves from NBA Legends

Drills for a Better Pole Vault Swing

Drills for a Better Pole Vault Swing

How to Create a Killer Crossover Without a Basketball

How to Create a Killer Crossover Without a Basketball

3 Things You Are Doing Wrong In Your Basketball Training

3 Things You Are Doing Wrong In Your Basketball Training

Preparation Nation: DeMatha Stags

Preparation Nation: DeMatha Stags

Improve Your Basketball Passes With Med Ball Exercises

Improve Your Basketball Passes With Med Ball Exercises

YardBarker