Tackle Shifty Ball carriers In Open Field

2/17/21 - Eric Colonna

In theory, this tackling tip is pretty obvious and makes a lot of sense, but what you’ll notice watching film is that very few players actually follow this rule.

When you are in the open field, DO NOT give the ballcarrier time to make a move on you. Close the distance as fast as you can.

If you have every carried the ball, played offence, or done an open field tackling drill you will understand that the ballcarrier usually needs to think for a split second which move to make. Most defenders wait for the ballcarrier to either make a move or run towards him, which gives the ballcarrier time to read body language and think of which move, or what moves he will make.

For example, if the ballcarrier starts to breakdown and take short choppy steps either way to trick the defender, he is seeing which way he should go or setting up the defender into his trap, and then changing direction.

Do not play into his games. Be the hammer, not the nail. Sprint to the man and do not give him time to make a move. He will be shocked, and you will be in position to make a tackle. Still, you will want to gear down a little bit when you’re about 3 yards away in case he makes a last second move but closing the gap and taking the air out is the important part. But do not hesitate. Second guessing yourself will kill you in this game.

Especially if you are ‘playing the sticks’ and need to stop a first down conversion from happening, you need to get to the man fast.

And do not forget to tackle your leverage side of the man, which was talked about in the most recent post.