Sound tackling is the the foundation of any good defense. Championship defense is played by great tackling players. Without proper tackling skills, the best defensive schemes are useless. The shoulder leverage tackle is an effective technique for tracking players, maintaining leverage and bringing the ball carrier to the ground safely.
The goal for all coaches should be to have an aggressive hard hitting defense that plays safely and penalty free.
In the video below Grapevine High School (TX) defensive coordinator Mike Alexander discusses their philosophy on shoulder leverage tackling and shows a drill that he uses to practice hitting the Strike Zone and safely separating the receiver from the ball.
To learn more about the DVD that this drill comes from click the link The Shoulder Leverage Tackling Method
The YouTube video has sound, so please make sure your sound is turned on and that you have access to the site.
Coach Alexander states that they have a four station tackling circuit that they complete each day. The four stations are: Hawk Tackling, Profile Tackling, Compression Tackling and Tracking. (For a video detailing each if these four tackling methods click the link Seahawk Tackling with Pete Carroll) Coach Alexander uses the should leverage tackling system because he believes it is safer and still allows his defense to be hard hitting and “nasty”.
On some days there is also a fifth station called Strike Zone. This station is for Defensive Backs and Outside Linebackers. In the Strike Zone drill they simulate hitting a defenseless receiver that has been “hung out to dry” with his hands up trying to make a play on an over thrown ball. In this situation it is the responsibility the DB to use his shoulder to hit the strike zone (between the players armpit and belt) and separate him from the ball.
The drill is set up as follows. A receiver runs a skinny post while carrying a pad to the side of his body and in his left hand. The pad is representing the strike zone of the receiver. The DB will back pedal the hash. The quarterback will pass the ball high. The DB is taught to break on the ball with his eyes on the strike zone (in the drill his eyes are on the bag). He is to use his inside shoulder to hit the bag and knock it out of the receivers hand. The DB is taught to never ever use the crown of his helmet.