3 fun and practical tackling games

I’m always on the look out for new ways to teach tackling. The more activities you can use, the more chance you have of building confidence in your players while still keeping things fresh.

There are two key elements to the tackle: getting close enough to make the tackle and the grip. These games should help you work on building your players confidence in these areas.

Players new to tackling and rucking may be tempted to grab at clothing, push opponents or tackle with an outstretched arm which is not only ineffective but can also result in injury to the tackler.

Effective tackling and rucking requires players to use their shoulders to make contact, with their arms used mainly for wrapping.

Get your players to use their shoulders in contact with these three simple games

Playing chicken

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In a small area, players hop on one leg while grasping their shirts, elbows tucked in and backwards like chicken wings.

The aim of the game is to knock opponents over using just the shoulder. Grasping their shirt stops players using the arms and hands and instils a good tackle approach with arms tight to the body while leaving them available to aid balance when knocked over.

Put a sock in it

Having introduced players to the use of the shoulder in contact there may still be an instinct in some to grab at shirts.

Play a small-sided game with no rucks or mauls, where one side always attacks for a minute before swapping with the defence, with the defending team wearing socks on their hands. This will make grasping shirts very difficult if not impossible.

Players have no option but to tackle with a shoulder rather than grab with their hands.

Cone on down!

Socks do not prevent players pushing at tackle or ruck situations. You need to isolate the shoulder to get players to use it, so by holding a cone in each hand, players cannot now push.

Play a small-sided, full-contact game with defenders holding cones. There should be one or two more defenders than attackers.

The defenders’ job is to stop the attack with tackles only and then to win the ball by rucking over.

Rotate defenders and attackers around after each score