Football is quickly eclipsing baseball as America's favourite pastime. The Super Bowl, for example, is the highest watched sporting event in the United States and in 2009 became the most-viewed sporting event on record, with close to 100 million viewers. As television coverage blows up the big hits and football glory on popular sporting channels like ESPN and Fox Sports, more people are heeding the call to lace up their cleats and strap up their pads. On average, more than 1 million boys play high school football, making it the most participated high school sport in the nation.
Become a student of the game and practice good technique as often as you can to help you avoid injury and overcome your fear of tackling.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Trousers with leg pads
- Shoulder pads
- Mouth guard
- Athletic supporter with cup
Learn the proper tackling technique. When tackling someone, get in the breakdown position, with your knees bent, eyes up and shoulder pads down. Take a step and drive your opposite shoulder into the chest of your opponent, while putting your face on the ball, shooting your hands through and grabbing the player's jersey. Don't ever duck your head and lead with the tip of your helmet when tackling.
Hit tackling dummies before engaging a real opponent. Hitting something that doesn't hit back makes it much easier to learn proper technique, while strengthening your confidence of tackling.
Practice all initial tackling drills at half speed, making sure you are in close proximity to the person you are tackling, helping to reduce the impact of each hit.
Practice tackling with players of the same size and aggression levels at first to build your confidence gradually and reduce the chance of injury while you learn the proper technique.
Study and watch videos of good tacklers in action to understand the techniques they are employing.
Tips and warnings
- Incrementally increase your distance and tempo when practicing hitting drills, allowing you to build your confidence by degrees [See reference 4].
- Concussions are one of the most common injuries in football and also the most dangerous, according to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons [See reference 6]. Because most concussions are not observable on radiological scans, and therefore difficult to diagnose, notify your doctor immediately if you experience the following symptoms after taking a football hit: prolonged headaches, vision disturbances, dizziness, nausea or vomiting, impaired balance, confusion, memory loss, ringing ears, difficulty concentrating and the loss of smell or taste [See reference 6].
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