Don't teach #tackling through games! its not safe!

Don't teach #tackling through games! It's not safe! 

Ok so the title is a little misleading, what I am actually saying is do teach tackling through
games. Recently I have been working with a womens team, the team has a spectrum of
ability, which runs from county players to beginners so as you can imagine differentiation
is key, to achieve this we will often use specific targets and track them using clickers.

My coaching philosophy has experiential learning at the heart of everything the players do, I am a strong believer that the best learning takes place when you have the opportunity to practice what your learning and when there is a problem or challenge to over come. I also use the CARDS system during my sessions this enables us to focus on areas what will enable the players to become independent and able to think on their feet, I like to use the phrase: "I coach creative people and not robots".

So onto the most important part! the "How do you do it?"

Well firstly let me put this out into the domain, never in my opinion would it be beneficial to throw a group of mixed abilities players into a game of contact rugby. Tackling needs to be taught in a safe way within an environment where the players feel safe and able to learn and try things out.

So the first thing we did was speak about three key points of tackling (these are the ones you will find on a Rugby Ready) - We then demo'd the tackle and the players worked in groups of three to teach it to each other. At this point we spoke about the dangers, what's really important and what could be developed later.

Then we got straight into a game of Rugby Netball......yes teaching tackling through Rugby Netball.

Now before you close the browser down, Don't! I will explain what we did.

Firstly we started the game with the basic Rugby Netball rules, no running with the ball only pivots, non contact and you can pass and kick the ball in any direction.

The players could score by passing the ball to a team mate ten consecutive times and for this we used a Rugby ball, reaction ball and a tennis ball. We let this play for 10 minutes and different players had specific targets for example only using their left hand to pass etc.

After this we had a debrief at the end of the ten minutes that the players led in groups of three. We gradually progressed the conditions to enable the game to develop into a tackle situation. If you would like the session plan which details the exact steps to follow please subscribe above and I will send it straight over.

I started to notice all of the players were attempting to make tackles, their confidence grew and they were asking lots of questions. We started to see technically sound and most importantly safe tackles from players that had either never tackled before or had limited confidence. 

We then moved onto swiss ball tackle touch, this game really encourages players to get low and gives them a visual cue on height, this was extremely successful and again players started to undertake safe and very successful tackles. What was really noticeable was the amount of tackles that the players made in comparison to a regular tackling drill and as you can hear they actually had loads of fun and they left the field feeling more confident. 

So what are the big take aways from this? I would say that teaching tackling through games is a must! The players understood the safety element and what they had to do and we made sure of this. As long as you are clear about this and its safe there should be no reason for us not to teach tackling through games, after all thats where they happen, in a game - not in an unopposed situation and I don't know about you, but I have never had to tackle a giant foam sausage during a game of rugby? 

Below are some comments I received from the players after the session when I sent an anonymous request for feedback:

"It was good to build up to the tackle and start off with the basics, I enjoyed being able to do this and move on to running tackles too!"

"I've never had so much fun and laughed as much as I did tonight, saying that I was fully aware of the seriousness of the skill and the safety and I totally enjoyed all of it!"

"I love these games, they changed the way I think about tackling, it was much easier to get lower and I felt so much safer than learning with drills."

"I have never had so much fun learning and I cant believe I can tackle!"

There you go, I love feedback and this was directly from the players, What do you think? 

Any questions? Contact us via email, leave a comment and share the blog, spread the word, no longer do we have to learn tackling through drills! 

This is the last blog post of 2017, have a wonderful Christmas and New Year and until next time!

From The Rugby Coaches Blog team!