Welcome to the Atavus Tackle System - Part 3

Now that we’ve covered Tracking, we’ll explore some of the elements that are tracked in the Contact Phase. Unlike the Track, contact elements do not occur in sequence.

Contact Phase

Now that we’ve covered Tracking, we’ll explore some of the elements that are tracked in the Contact Phase. Unlike the Track, contact elements do not occur in sequence. The main elements in contact that we look for are:

  • Body Position
  • Spine Alignment 
  • Near-shoulder
  • Punch
  • Wrap
  • Leg Drive

Body Position refers to the pad level of the defender. When we look at Body Position, we are looking to see if the defender strikes within the Strike Zone–between the runner’s thigh pads and the bottom of the chest plate.

Spine Alignment refers to keeping the defender’s neck neutral in contact. We do not want the defender to dip or drop their head going into contact. That’s why coaches often tell their players to look over the sunglasses to keep their eyes up going into and through contact. 

Near-shoulder means exactly that; we’re identifying whether the defender strikes with the near-shoulder. If the defender does not, Atavus tracks what the defender used to make primary contact—left or right shoulder, chest or head, etc. 

The Punch is instrumental in controlling the runner. Defenders should throw a jab with their near-shoulder past the ball carrier. The reason is that it helps protect the shoulder socket. When defenders swing their arms out wide, it puts stress on the socket and can lead to a shoulder injury. 

The Wrap refers to both the near-shoulder that punched past the runner, along with the off-arm. Defenders should punch past the ball carrier with their near-shoulder, then use the off-arm to wrap and grab the ball carrier. 

Leg Drive can only be observed in Positive Situations; the reason being that defenders should not be focused on generating power in Negative Situations. 

Example of Dominant Tackle

B Graham - Dominant Tackle from ATAVUS on Vimeo.

Notice that the defender does not strike with the near-shoulder and has issues in the punch and wrap as well.

Example of Near Shoulder Issue

W Jackson - Near Shoulder Issue from ATAVUS on Vimeo.

The Bottom Line

With tackling being one of the most common transactions in football, players and coaches need to look at tackling as a skill that can be coached. Tackling is not an inherent talent. A player may have confidence, which is why you may see some defenders attack and initiate contact with the ball carrier. With the Atavus Tackle System, we strive to build that confidence in the athlete, and arm coaches with the resources necessary to implement and execute shoulder-led tackling at all levels of the game.