How low should you go? Tackle techniques and activities

Your younger players need a little extra confidence to make low tackles – and as the coach you must supply it. So give them a helping hand by moving the initial focus from the legs to the hips.

The fear of tackling (and of being hurt) is probably the biggest single worry that most young and small children have when being introduced to the game.

“Tackle round the ankles” or “chop them at the knees” are well-meant phrases used by parents and coaches, but the appeal for small children to put their head in these areas is understandably low!

Build confidence

In order to develop confidence, players need to feel happy and safe and confident that they won’t get hurt and will be successful. Take the focus off the player aiming at the attacker’s legs and focus instead on the hips/waist as the initial contact area.

Whilst waiting to make the tackle, the tackler should crouch slightly with weight on the balls of his feet and elbows tucked into the body and hands up. Sight the target.

The initial contact should be with the shoulder, not the hands or arms. The tight grip (“ring of steel”) must follow immediately.

Drive, not dive

Encourage the tackler to get his feet as close as possible to the attacker so that he can drive through the tackle and not dive in to it.

This will help him dominate the ball carrier and get him off-balance. From here he can drive him off his feet or slide down the thighs to clamp the legs and drive him off-balance.

Avoid simply gripping and hanging off the ball carrier. Finish with a tight grip and head firmly on the side or behind the tackled player (“cheek-to-cheek”).

A simple tackling activity



  1. A tackler circles a static ball carrier in a low, crouched, balanced position.


  1. He decides which type of tackle to do – the front-on or side-on.
  2. He makes shoulder contact and grips like a “ring of steel”
  3. The carrier tries to walk out of the 7m square to score a try.
  4. The tackler must drive him out of the square or get him down.
  5. To develop, the carrier can attempt to jog or run to get out of the tackle.
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