Boost the confidence of all your players to increase not only their tackling prowess but all-round contact skills and awareness.
Tackling is a balance between confidence and technique. Without confidence, the player will put himself in a poor position to tackle – in other words, not put himself in the firing line in the first place. Without technique, the player will get injured and lose confidence.
Some players come with an unerring confidence in everything they do – sometimes endangering themselves in the process. And others will have no confidence at all. In fact, you may wonder why they play such a physical game. Here are five simple boosters.
1. Work on defence not tackling
Thank heaven for rugby league coaches. They have made us all think about defensive “systems”. Make tackling a team activity where you have groups of two or three players practising as a line. It’s about defending the gain line, not making tackles.
2. Create success
Make even half tackles a success. The New Rules in England at younger age groups reward grab tackles even if players are not brought down.
3. Empathy for the weak tackler
The last thing a weak tackler needs to know is that he is a poor tackler. Instead work with him on “improvements” – understanding that he might not be knocking down the opposition’s biggest or fastest player but offering solutions. Can he make tackles on the opponent’s weaker ball carriers first?
4. Create proper scenarios
In training, how much tackle training is match-like? If you are going to use pads and tubes, can you make them move around so the tackler actually has to use the right foot movements and shoulder engagement? The closer to actual tackling it can be, the more likely players can make the transfer. You can up the pressure or intensity as they become more proficient.
5. Change the distances
The easiest confidence booster is to forget tubes, pads, walking and kneeling tackles. Just start the ball carrier a metre from the tackler. Once the tackler can stop this player, increase the distances. It is game realistic, forces the duel of attacker versus defender and does not hide the tackler from the real thing with artificial aids.