One of the biggest topics in football coaching right now is finding ways to decrease contact in practice. With public concerns about concussions increasing it is important that football coaches look at effective ways to minimize contact and collisions in practice. Beyond limiting parent concerns, it will also decrease the chances of a potential injury (not just concussions but all injuries) while at the same time keeping the players fresh and prepared to compete on game day.
How You Can Use Yoga Balls to Practice Tackling
These changes have hit defensive coaches especially hard. The truth is that it is very difficult to practice tackling without making contact with another player. So, when the coaches are trying to minimize contact time, the amount of tackling segments is the first thing to get cut. The effect of this is players that are not only bad at tackling, but have also not had enough drill work to tackle safely.
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Coaches are getting very creative in finding ways to drill the tackle without having player on player contact. Tools such as the tackle ring and agile bags have become popular across all levels of football as tools to work the tackle. Another tool that has been gaining popularity, especially with USA Football, is the yoga ball. These large balls make for great tools to work tackling without having player on player contact.
A great drill to use yoga balls with is the form tackling drill. In this drill players start by coming straight at the coach who has the yoga ball. As they are approach the coach he will bounce the ball to them so they can execute a form tackle on the ball. The key coaching points here are to keep the elbows tight as they shoot the arms and unload the hips through the ball.
One of the major advantages of using a yoga ball is that it will bounce up and down. This allow players to track the ball and react to it’s movements. This ability to track and react to movements is a skill that great tacklers must master.
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Once players have mastered the form tackle from straight ahead they can move to making the form tackle at an angel. They do this by coming straight at the coach. When the coach is ready he will bounce the ball at an angle. This will force the defender to work on making the tackle from the side and ensuring he wraps the players up.
There are a million different possible drills that can be done with the yoga ball. It should not be thought of something that replaces the tackle ring or agile pads. Instead it should be used as a supplement that will allow the coach to work on the same skill multiple ways. As coaches it is our job to teach the safe fundamentals that allow players to be successful. The yoga ball is just another way that we can teach our athletes in a safe environment while limiting the potential for injury.