Initiate Contact and Make More Tackles

2/27/21 - Eric Colonna

Welcome back to Defensive Back University or DBU, where you will learn everything you need to know about playing defensive back through this playlist on YouTube and blog posts on

Today we will learn about how to initiate contact when making tackles. It comes down to four words. Near foot, near shoulder.

In football, you always lead with the feet to make sure you’re in the proper position to make a play. Next comes the upper body to help you deliver the blow.

What near foot means is that when you’re about to make contact with the ballcarrier, you step towards him with the foot that is closest to him. Do NOT lunge, you want to keep your feet moving, but this near foot last second step will be your last buildup of power before making the tackle. Think of this as you’re stepping on his feet. If you are in position to step on his feet, he won’t have any space to juke you or break free from an arm tackle. Don’t forget it.

Once in position, the rest of your body comes into play. The whole meaning behind near shoulder is that you’re tackling with your body, not just your arms. Also, with tackling like this, you’ll be sure to stay on your proper leverage, which we talked about in a previous post.

Now if the ballcarrier is pulling away and you cannot fit up, don’t hesitate to dive for him. If you need to, it’s better than not making a tackle at all. You can trip him up, slap his feet, or even just slow him down and give your teammates time to pursue.

Some other tips would be to keep your head up. Don’t look at the ground. See what you hit. This is for your safety and to not attract any flags. We’ll touch upon these in other posts but remember that it’s hit or be hit. Explode through the tackle. And remember, the low man wins. You won’t have any power standing up when he’s running downhill, you’ll just get trucked.

Imagine, you chased down the ballcarrier in open field, in position to step on his feet, and lowered your shoulder into him, all you need to finish the play is a lot of power behind you. Make sure to check out the rest of Pick 6 Athletics for workouts to develop that power.