PROBLEM: HEAD INJURIES AND TRAUMA FROM LEADING WITH THE HEAD IN TACKLING
By now we are all well aware of CTE and the potential dangers playing football can have on our brains. The Concussion Movie is just the latest high profile event illustrating how the effects of repeated head trauma football players can suffer. There have been several new technologies and improvements in football equipment, namely in helmets and monitored devices, that have tried to alleviate the impact blows to the head have, but few have tried to address tackling techniques until now.
SOLUTION: RUGBY STYLE TACKLING
The Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll has been leading the way in a new way of tackling that has actually been around for a long time-Rugby Style. The main focus of rugby style tackling is to take the head out of the hit and lead with the shoulder at impact zone. Obviously, since rugby players don't wear helmets and would do serious harm if they tackled leading with their heads they have perfected this technique and now the NFL is catching on.
It is surprising this technique has not caught on before now especially since it not only is safer for players heads, but it is also a more sure handed way of bringing opposing ball carriers down to the ground. When I was a DB back in the day I always thought that with heads up and leading with the shoulder was a much more sure way of tackling than simply launching oneself headfirst into a runner, only to have him bounce off of you. We just did not call it Rugby Style tackling back then.
The Seahawks Rugby style of tackling is lead by their defensive passing game coordinator Rocky Seto. "We're always looking for a better way to teach and so we thought, 'Let's put together a video and see how it works.' I'm thrilled that we're contributing."
Not everyone was completely sold on this new style of tackling at first. Ohio State Head coach Urban Meyer was not buying in to it until his defensive coordinator Chris Ash kept persisting that this is the best way to go in teaching their young players how to tackle. The idea of rugby tackling "was one that I fought at first and I said no, we're not going to do that," Meyer said. "Chris Ash is very persistent, he's a very good coach, and (like) good coaches who really believe in something, stayed on me... I listened. I did as much research as I could and ultimately we jumped in. Tremendous success right out of the get-go. You could see the difference." After thoroughly studying the technique Meyer eventually agreed and is now a strong proponent of rugby style tackling.
The technique and training for it has even draw praise and support from Hall of Fame coach John Madden, who is co-chair of the NFL Player Safety Advisory Panel. The panel that is co-chaired by Hall of Fame safety Ronnie Lott already had addressed the helmet-to-defenseless-receiver issue.
From Madden's inquisitive mind to Pete Carroll's proven method of teaching players how to tackle - and then some - that are featured in an instructional video Madden knew something had to be done about players leading with their helmeted heads when tackling.
"The helmet-to-helmet on the defenseless receiver, we had a change that was an easier one because you could still use your head you just had to change your aim point," Madden said. "But getting the head out of tackling was a much more difficult issue. So what Pete did was something that needed to be done and gives us all the answers we're looking for.
"The video is excellent," Madden said Monday during a telephone interview. "We've been looking for something like that for a long time. One of the things the Commissioner is trying to do is take the head out of football when it comes to tackling, not using the head for contact.
Carroll and his staff in Seattle have produce a full series of videos demonstrating the proper way to do Rugby Style tackling and they have distributed them to 14,000 high school football programs and 8,000 youth football programs across the country through the Hudl video network.